Marcus Nüsser

Marcus Nüsser
Universität Heidelberg · South Asia Institute (SAI)

Professor

About

142
Publications
103,599
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
2,366
Citations
Citations since 2017
43 Research Items
1628 Citations
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400
Introduction
My research interests include mountain and glacier research, development research, human-environmental interaction, political ecology, socio-hydrology, land use systems, resource management and land degradation in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional affiliations
March 2006 - present
Universität Heidelberg
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Description
  • Lectures, courses, excursions and modules to the different study programmes in Geography as well as to the BA and MA South Asian Studies
January 1997 - February 2006
University of Bonn
Position
  • PostDoc Position
January 1993 - December 1996
Freie Universität Berlin
Position
  • PhD Student
Education
February 1997 - July 2003
University of Bonn
Field of study
  • Geography
January 1993 - December 1996
Freie Universität Berlin
Field of study
  • Geography
March 1987 - June 1992
Freie Universität Berlin
Field of study
  • Geography

Publications

Publications (142)
Article
Full-text available
Regular availability of glacier and snow meltwater is essential for irrigated crop cultivation in the northwestern Himalaya. Based on a case study from the Nanga Parbat region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, general patterns and site-specific particularities of irrigation networks in semiarid high mountain regions are conceptualized as continuously...
Article
Full-text available
The consequences of even small glacier decrease and changes of seasonal snow cover are critical for the functioning of meltwater-dependent mountain agriculture. In order to deal with recurrent water scarcity, different types of ice reservoirs, commonly called “artificial glaciers,” have been introduced in Ladakh and promoted as appropriate adaptive...
Article
Full-text available
Rapid urbanisation increasingly affects small and medium-sized towns adversely in high mountain regions, which are especially vulnerable to socioecological challenges like depleting natural resources and increasing risk exposure to natural hazards. The case study of Leh town, located in the Indian Himalaya, reveals an array of diverse patterns, dri...
Article
Full-text available
This article attempts to reconstruct the causes and consequences of the 2014 glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) event in Gya, Ladakh. We analyse the evolution of the Gya glacial lake using a high temporal and high spatial resolution remote sensing approach. In order to frame the case study in a larger picture, we produce a comprehensive inventory o...
Article
Full-text available
Contemporary changes in the Himalayan cryosphere are an important concern in the global climate change de-bate. In this context, the glaciers of the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) deserve special attention because of their impor-tance for freshwater supply in the mountain valleys and the adjoining lowlands. However, detailed long-termglacier monitoring st...
Chapter
The Karakoram region is an integral part of the Hindu Kush–Karakoram–Himalaya (HKH) mountain system and forms the great divide between the drainage of the Indus and Tarim basins. This region has a substantial geographical, historical, economical, cultural, and geopolitical importance owing to its location, rugged topography, distinct climate regime...
Article
Full-text available
Aufeis is a common phenomenon in cold regions of the Northern Hemisphere that develops during winter by successive water overflow and freezing on ice-covered surfaces. Most studies on aufeis occurrence focus on regions in North America and Siberia, while research in High Mountain Asia (HMA) is still in an exploratory phase. This study investigates...
Article
Full-text available
In many regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, charcoal plays an important role as energy source but is widely perceived as a major driver of deforestation and forest degradation. This narrative, however, is mostly based on research within primary production regions. Though space-borne remote sensing applications can be useful in monitoring such large-scal...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents the distribution of seasonal snow cover in the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh over the observation period of 2000-2019. Seasonal snow cover area and duration have been monitored and mapped based on the MODIS Normalised Difference Snow Index (NDSI). Using different MODIS cloud removal algorithms, monthly mean cloud-covered ar...
Article
Full-text available
This focus issue contributes to a better understanding of the dynamic and complex interconnections between hazards, underlying vulnerabilities, integrated disaster risk management, and resulting impacts in mountains, presenting insights on how to improve disaster management. It contains 8 peer-reviewed articles (3 MountainDevelopment articles, 2 Mo...
Research
Full-text available
Summary: The Upper Indus Basin (UIB) is an extraordinarily significant social-ecological system that supports hundreds of millions of people. Water resources in the UIB are extremely vulnerable due to climate change, and as a result of historic lack of demand management. New knowledge, based on interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research is...
Article
Population growth and an increasingly urban lifestyle have led to rising water demand in high mountains such as Ladakh. A large and rapidly growing number of tourists further increases seasonal pressure on limited water resources. The case of the city of Leh shows how rising water demand leads to overexploitation of the resource and limited supply....
Article
Full-text available
River systems originating from the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) are dominated by runoff from snow and glacier melt and summer monsoonal rainfall. These water resources are highly stressed as huge populations of people living in this region depend on them, including for agriculture, domestic use, and energy production. Projections suggest that the UIB r...
Article
Full-text available
In a recent editorial in the journal Nature Sustainability , the editors raised the concern that journal submissions on water studies appear too similar. The gist of the editorial: “too many publications and not enough ideas.” In this response, we contest this notion, and point to the numerous new ideas that result from taking a broader view of the...
Article
Full-text available
Mountains are a critical source of water. Cryospheric and hydrological changes in combination with socioeconomic development are threatening downstream water security triggering the need for effective adaptation responses. Here, we present a global systematic review (83 peer-reviewed articles) that assesses different water-related stressors and the...
Article
Full-text available
When the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, public health measures were implemented globally. Early on, concerns grew that lockdowns and travel restrictions could have severe consequences, especially for marginalized communities in the Global South. In Sub-Saharan Africa, wood charcoal is not only an important cooking fuel, but provides income for many ru...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents a multitemporal photographic dataset from the Rupal Valley, south of Nanga Parbat in the north-western Himalaya. The historical metric photographs were taken in 1934, 1958 and 1987 during scientific expeditions focussing on topographical mapping and glacier dynamics of the mountain massif. All photographs showing glacier aspec...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents a multitemporal photographic dataset from the Rupal Valley, south of Nanga Parbat in the north-western Himalaya. The historical metric photographs were taken in 1934, 1958 and 1987 during scientific expeditions focussing on topographical mapping and glacier dynamics of the mountain massif. All photographs showing glacier aspec...
Article
Full-text available
Contemporary changes in the Himalayan cryosphere are an important concern in the global climate change debate. In this context, the glaciers of the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) deserve special attention because of their importance for freshwater supply in the mountain valleys and the adjoining lowlands. However, detailed long-term glacier monitoring stu...
Article
Full-text available
Rural communities in the drylands of sub‐Saharan Africa (SSA) derive their livelihoods primarily from their natural resource base. Unprecedented changes in these environments over the past few decades are likely to intensify in the future and land users need to develop sustainable adaptation strategies. This study aims to identify land‐use and land...
Article
Megaprojects of river transformation in the Himalaya The Himalayan mountain arc is considered a water and power tower for the surrounding lowlands of South Asia. Recent developments are characterized by the massive construction of dams to meet increasing water and energy demands. Apart from environmental and social consequences of these hydro-infra...
Article
Full-text available
In the semi-arid high mountains of the Upper Indus Basin (UIB), meltwater supply from the cryosphere is vital for irrigated agriculture and hydropower generation. An overlooked cryosphere component that is critical for this is aufeis, which appears as a sheet-like formation of ice layers, created by successive and laminated freezing of flowing wate...
Article
This study assessed spatiotemporal changes at Gya Glacier, the associated development of a proglacial lake, and reconstructed the 2014 outburst flood that struck Gya Village in the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh, India. This study analyzed and for the first time successfully reconstructed a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) event in the Trans-Hi...
Article
In order to deal with recurrent water scarcity, ice reservoirs, commonly called “artificial glaciers” and promoted as appropriate adaptive strategies to climate change, have been introduced in Ladakh. Four different types of ice reservoirs can be differentiated: cascade type, diversion type, basin, and ice-stupa. These seasonal ice reservoirs incre...
Article
Full-text available
In the semi-arid and arid regions of the Chilean Andes, meltwater from the cryosphere is a key resource for the local economy and population. In this setting, climate change and economic activities foster water scarcity and resource conflicts. The study presents a detailed glacier and rock glacier inventory for the Huasco valley (28-29 • S) in nort...
Chapter
Full-text available
Socio-Hydrology of the Trans-Himalaya – Meltwater availability and irrigated agriculture Meltwater from glaciers, snow cover, and permafrost are crucial for irrigated agriculture in the semi-arid mountain regions of the Trans-Himalaya. As the quantity of meltwater runoff from the different cryosphere components is expected to decrease in the conte...
Article
Full-text available
Socioeconomic processes and climate change impact the socio-hydrology of many small towns in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), such as Leh in Ladakh. The rapidly urbanising town experienced a shift from agricultural livelihoods towards incomes mainly relying on the tourism sector. As results of this research show, the limited water resources essential...
Article
Full-text available
Review of: Wakhan Quadrangle: Exploration and Espionage During and After the Great Game. By Hermann Kreutzmann Wiesbaden, Austria: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2017.
Article
Full-text available
Irrigated agriculture is crucial for the livelihood security of mountain communities in the northwestern part of the Himalayan arc and adjoining regions of the Karakoram Hindu Kush and Trans-Himalaya. Using meltwater from glaciers, snow, and permafrost, mountain dwellers have developed sophisticated techniques to cope with recurrent water scarcity...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing recognition of the contribution of the cryosphere to human societies. This is especially important in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), where poverty and vulnerability are high and climate change impacts on the cryosphere are strong. However, there is a lack of synthesized knowledge about the contributions of the cryosphere to high...
Article
Full-text available
Although glaciers in High Mountain Asia produce an enormous amount of water used by downstream populations, they remain poorly observed in the field. This study presents a geodetic mass balance of the glaciers in the Astore Basin (with differential GPS (dGPS) measurements on Harcho glacier) between 1999 and 2016. Changes near the terminus of Harcho...
Poster
Full-text available
Snow is an important component of the cryosphere. In the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh, snow cover is one of the vital natural resources that ensures availability of water in the streams during the melt periods for irrigating agricultural fields. Thus, understanding of its seasonal variation helps assessing the impacts of regional climate change...
Article
Full-text available
This case study examines the geological imprint and land use practices on water quality in the arid Huasco Valley against the backdrop of ongoing water conflicts surrounding competing demands for agriculture and mining. The study is based on a detailed analysis of spatial and temporal variations of monthly surface and bi-monthly groundwater quality...
Article
Full-text available
Die Bedeutung der Gebirgsgletscher als hydrologische Speicher zur Sicherung des Wasserangebots in den angrenzenden Tiefländern rechtfertigt die Einordnung von Hochgebirgen als globale Wassertürme. Damit wird der Eisrückgang in diesen sensitiven Räumen implizit als Bedrohung für zukünftige sozioökonomische Entwicklungsmöglichkeiten angesehen. Dieser...
Article
Universal access to sustainable and modern energy is considered key to a wide range of aspired development outcomes. Related initiatives are particularly contested when it comes to a tree-based form of bioenergy that is used in large quantities all around the world and that ranks among the most commercialised but least regulated commodities in sub-...
Article
Full-text available
Climatic differences between monsoonal and cold-arid parts of the South Asian mountain arc account for the uncertainty regarding regional variations in glacier retreat. In this context, the upper Indus Basin of Ladakh, sandwiched between the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, is of particular interest. The aims of the present study are threefold: to m...
Article
Full-text available
This study traces livelihood pathways within two spatially proximate locations in the dryland setting of Laikipia County, Kenya. Both sites, Thome and Wiyumiririe, were opened up for settlement at roughly the same time, belong to the same administrative unit, and fall under the same national policy remit. Whilst Kenya's policy for arid and semi-ari...
Chapter
Full-text available
In recent years Himalayan glaciers have figured controversially in the public discussion of climate change, reflecting the tension between the mounting global concern over these ostensibly threatened cryoscapes and the dominant local role that glaciers play in irrigation. The intersection of local and global knowledge of the Himalayas is evident in...
Chapter
Full-text available
Foto 1: Hochfäche der Puna de Atacama mit den Vulkanen Incahuasi, El Fraile, El Muerto und Ojos del Salado. Aufnahme vom Osthang der Barrancas Blancas, 5620 m (Aufnahme: M. Nüsser, 11.12.2014) 66 Forschung aktuell Der Ojos del Salado in der Atacama: Forschungsgeschichte und aktuelle Probleme im trockensten Hochgebirge der Erde Marcus Nüsser und Jul...
Article
Full-text available
The rapid urban development of Musikot from a small bazaar settlement to a mid-size trade and service centre in rural Nepal increases the vulnerability of its inhabitants to natural hazards. Population growth and improved road accessibility has led to increased construction and an expansion and alteration of the built environment. The growing avail...
Article
Full-text available
Despite their relevance for changing living conditions in mountain areas, the dynamic processes of urbanization in the Himalayas have been largely neglected as a research topic. Based on the examples of Srinagar, the summer capital of the Indian federal state of Jammu & Kashmir, and Leh, the main city of Ladakh region, the characteristic aspects of...
Article
Full-text available
The Siachen conflict between India and Pakistan is often referred to as the coldest war, or, the endless war atop the roof of the world. The high altitude and extreme climate create a hostile environment that has caused by far the most casualties and imposed tremendous costs on both sides. This environmental setting is usually only cited to underli...
Article
Full-text available
Covering approximately 10,000 km2 the Sundarbans in the Northern Bay of Bengal is the largest contiguous mangrove forest on earth. Mangroves forests are highly productive and diverse ecosystems, providing a wide range of direct ecosystem services for resident populations. In addition, mangroves function as a buffer against frequently occurring cycl...
Article
Full-text available
Based on three case studies, this paper describes and analyzes the structure and dynamics of irrigation systems in Upper Hunza, located in the western Karakoram, Pakistan. In these deeply incised and arid valleys, glacier and snow melt-water are the primary water sources for agricultural production. The study shows how glacio-fluvial dynamics impac...
Chapter
Full-text available
The Schlagintweit Illustrations of High Asia: Colonial Views of Himalayan Nature and Culture During their expedition to High Asia, the Schlagintweit brothers compiled a large number of visual representations of glacial environments and cultural landscapes. These panoramic views comprise both elements of scientific documentation and artistic imagin...
Data
Full-text available
Chapter
Full-text available
Himalayan glaciers and changes in their size and mass balance have recently been at the centre of the global climate change debate. These dynamic and fragile ice bodies have not only become prominent topics of scientific research but have also received international media attention as both indicators and icons of climate change. Despite their cruci...
Chapter
Full-text available
Large dams have evoked contentious debates about the trajectories and effectiveness of development, environmental impacts and social justice. As is especially the case in the countries of the Global South, particularly in Asia, the construction and operation of large dams are amongst the most prestigious but also most sensitive development issues....
Book
Full-text available
This book explores the multi-dimensional asymmetries of scale, time, and directions in the large dam controversy with a regional focus on Asia, especially on India and China. Whereas the concept of large-scale transformation of fluvial environments into technological hydroscapes originated in the West, widespread construction of large dams started...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Rapid urban growth is a process which can be observed in cities worldwide. Managing these growing urban areas has become a major challenge for both governing bodies and citizens. Situated not only in a highly earthquake and landslide-prone area, but comprising also the cultural and political capital of Nepal, the fast expanding Kathmandu Valley in...
Article
In contrast to the relatively well investigated glacier changes in the mountains of Europe and North America, very few investigations using repeat photography have been undertaken in the Himalayas and adjacent high mountain regions. The present study seeks to redress this by investigating glacier changes in the Nanga Parbat region (NW-Himalaya) usi...
Article
This study deals with changes in small blank-ice glaciers in the Trans-Himalayan Kang Yatze Massif, Ladakh, Northwest India, between 1969 and 2010. Due to the semi-arid conditions and comparatively high temperatures, glaciers in Ladakh are characterized by their high altitude positions above 5200 m above sea level, and their relatively small size (...
Article
Full-text available
Human-environmental research in the Himalaya and surrounding high mountain regions is characterized by integrated analyses of environmental change and socioeconomic development processes, usually on a local or regional scale. However, ongoing academic and policy debates have tended to neglect the diversity within the South Asian mountain belt, as w...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter analyses pastoral migration patterns as strategies for utilising the grazing resources at the marginal belts of human habitation in Chitral, an area located in the eastern Hindukush of northern Pakistan. Beyond the common features of combined mountain agriculture, pastoral utilisation strategies vary between different tributary valleys...
Article
Full-text available
In the Kumaon Himalaya, British colonial administrators as well as agents of the independent Indian Union intervened heavily in pasture use by adopting rationally governed and scientifically sanctioned development schemes. These measures mostly originated from outside and largely ignored local cultural logics through which a pastoral life also take...
Article
Full-text available
This article deals with the development of irrigated agriculture in the Upper Indus Basin of Central Ladakh in Northern India. Artificial irrigation, fed by meltwater from glaciers and snow cover, forms the backbone of regional food production in this semiarid Trans-Himalayan environment. Following an integrated socio-hydrological approach, we pres...
Article
Full-text available
This study reports changes of small glaciers in the Trans-Himalayan Kang Yatze Massif, Ladakh, northwest India, between 1969 and 2010. The region covers an area of about 1000 km² and is located in a transitional position between predominantly receding glaciers of the Central Himalaya and some advancing ice masses of the Karakorum. A multi-temporal...