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Adapting in the Shadow of Annapurna: A Climate Tipping Point


Abstract and Figures

Rapid climate change in the Himalaya threatens the traditional livelihoods of remote mountain communities, challenges traditional systems of knowledge, and stresses existing socio-ecological systems. Through semi-structured interviews, participatory photography, and repeat photography focused on climate change and its impacts on traditional livelihoods, we aim to shed light on some of the socio-cultural implications of climate related change in Manang, a remote village in the Annapurna Conservation Area of Western Nepal. Observed changes in temperature, precipitation, permanent snow cover, and glacial extent directly inform villagers’ perceptions of and adaptations to Himalayan climate change. Adaptation strategies include a shift from traditional agropastoral practices to a more diversified blend of agropastoralism, tourism services, and cashcrop production. Climate change has tipped the scales in favor of the production of fruits and vegetables, cash crops previously unsuitable to the local climate. Diversification of livelihood strategies signifies transformation within the socio-ecological system of Manang and may enable greater resiliency to long-term climatic change. Continued development of relevant, place-based adaptations to rapid Himalayan climate change depends on local peoples’ abilities to understand the potential impacts of climate change and to adjust within complex, traditional socio-ecological systems.
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Katie M. Konchar
, Ben Staver
, Jan Salick
, Arjun Chapagain
, Laxmi Joshi
Sita Karki
, Smriti Lo
, Asha Paudel
, Prem Subedi
, and Suresh K. Ghimire
Rapid climate change in the Himalaya threatens the traditional livelihoods of remote mountain
communities, challenges traditional systems of knowledge, and stresses existing socio-ecological systems.
Through semi-structured interviews, participatory photography, and repeat photography focused on climate
change and its impacts on traditional livelihoods, we aim to shed light on some of the socio-cultural implications
of climate related change in Manang, a remote village in the Annapurna Conservation Area of Western Nepal.
Observed changes in temperature, precipitation, permanent snow cover, and glacial extent directly inform
villagers’ perceptions of and adaptations to Himalayan climate change. Adaptation strategies include a shift
from traditional agropastoral practices to a more diversified blend of agropastoralism, tourism services, and cash-
crop production. Climate change has tipped the scales in favor of the production of fruits and vegetables, cash
crops previously unsuitable to the local climate. Diversification of livelihood strategies signifies transformation
within the socio-ecological system of Manang and may enable greater resiliency to long-term climatic change.
Continued development of relevant, place-based adaptations to rapid Himalayan climate change depends on local
peoples’ ability to understand the potential impacts of climate change and to adjust within complex, traditional
socio-ecological systems.
Keywords: climate change, Himalaya, local ecological knowledge, traditional agriculture,adaptation
In the Himalaya, breathtaking topography provides not only drastic
gradients in elevation, but also steep transitions in temperature, precipitation,
and natural habitats. As a result, these mountains are home to a great wealth of
biodiversity (Barthlott et al. 2005; Myers et al. 2000; Salick et al. 2004, 2014b),
much of which is highly valued for use as medicine, food, and fodder (Byg et al.
2010; Salick et al. 2005, 2006, 2014b). Equally, Himalayan geography has fostered
and protected great cultural diversity (Gorenflo et al. 2012; Maffi 2005).
Indigenous peoples have survived in the harsh and often unpredictable montane
environment for millennia (Aldenderfer and Zhang 2004). While the environ-
ment has shaped unique lifestyles and cultural traditions, Indigenous peoples
have likewise shaped the Himalayan landscape. Accordingly, Himalayan
peoples hold immense knowledge of local environmental conditions, biology,
and climate (Byg and Salick 2009; Byg et al. 2010; Ghimire et al. 2004; Salick 2012,
2013; Salick and Moseley 2012).
Tallahassee, Florida, 32303
School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal
*Corresponding author (
Journal of Ethnobiology 35(3): 449–471 2015
Rapid climatic change poses a severe and mounting threat to the unique
biological and cultural diversity in the Himalaya, where annual and seasonal
warming has increased and will continue to increase at rates greater than at
similar latitudes (Liu and Chen 2000; Salick et al. 2014b; Shrestha et al. 1999;
Singh et al. 2010; Solomon et al. 2007). Likewise, precipitation has increased and
is expected to continue to increase in the region (IPCC 2014; Salick et al. 2014b;
Shrestha et al. 2012), all the while becoming more unpredictable in timing,
intensity, and duration. Threats associated with climatic change in the Himalaya
include habitat loss (Baker and Moseley 2007; Salick and Moseley 2012),
increased incidence of natural disasters (Kohler and Maselli 2009; Richardson
and Reynolds 2000) and pests and diseases (Cruz et al. 2007; Malla 2008; Salick et
al. 2014a), and difficulties for traditional crop productivity and agricultural
sustainability (Dannevig 2007; ICIMOD 2013; Xu et al. 2009). Shifts in vegetation
zones have already been documented in the region (e.g., Dubey et al. 2003; Salick
and Moseley 2012). As temperatures rise, lower elevation species are able to
survive in higher elevation areas, altering the characteristics of alpine habitats
(Gottfried et al. 2012; Pauli et al. 2007; Salick and Moseley 2012). Increases in
temperature and precipitation induce landslides, avalanches, and glacial lake
outburst flooding (Ives et al. 2010; Kohler and Maselli 2009; Olsson et al. 2014;
Richardson and Reynolds 2000). The production of traditional crops will become
increasingly difficult amidst unpredictable changes in seasonality, monsoon
precipitation, and the availability of glacial meltwater for irrigation (Dannevig
2007; ICIMOD 2013; Salick and Moseley 2012).
These threats have direct impacts on the livelihoods of those living in the
remote villages of the Himalaya where transhumanance and agropastoralism
are fundamental characteristics of a complex socio-ecological system adapted to
the mountainous terrain (Salick and Moseley 2012; Salick et al. 2005). Local
peoples have terraced crop land and grazed yak in alpine meadows for hundreds
of years. Climate change and its associated effects challenge this system. The
direct impacts of climate change (e.g., increases in temperature, decreases in
permanent snow cover, and glacial retreat) are physical in nature and can be
easily observed. The impacts of climate change on the deeply rooted spiritual
traditions and cultural values of local peoples, however, are more difficult to see
(Anderson et al. 2005; Byg and Salick 2009; Salick 2013; Salick et al. 2005, 2007).
The lifestyle and livelihood of Himalayan inhabitants are so intertwined with the
local environment that climate change will undoubtedly test the traditional socio-
ecological systems characteristic of the region. Changes in the social and
economic framework of local communities can be expected. Traditional and local
ecological knowledge continues to play an important role in developing
adaptations to climate change in the Himalaya.
Local observations provide a detailed, place-based perspective on the wide-
ranging impacts of global climate change (Byg and Salick 2009; Sherpa 2014) and
they are especially valuable in developing relevant climate change policies, plans
for community development, and sustainable strategies for adaptation (Salick
2013). Insight gained from local communities expands our understanding of local
perceptions of climate change, its associated impacts, and adaptations developed
within the socio-ecological framework of the community (Thaman et al. 2013).
450 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
Because local ecological knowledge facilitates place-based adaptations to change,
it should serve as a guide for decision making at the local level (Assembly, UN
General 2007). Through the process of semi-structured interviews, participatory
photography and repeat photography, we document recent observations of
climate change in the Himalayan village of Manang, its impacts on local
livelihoods, and placed-based actions taken in response. Results shed light on
some of the socio-cultural implications of rapid climatic change in a remote
Himalayan community and highlight relevant cultural and place-based
adaptation strategies that should be incorporated in larger climate change policy.
Study Site
At 8091 meters above sea level (masl), Mount Annapurna I, ‘Goddess of the
Harvest’ (Figure 1), towers over the village of Manang (3540 masl), nestled in
the broad valley of the Marshyangdi River in Western Nepal (Figure 2). Due to
its location on the leeward side of the Annapurna massif, Manang village
receives only approximately 430 mm of precipitation annually (PANON 2009)
and the climate is semi-arid. Average maximum and minimum temperatures
range from -2 to 8uC in winter to 14-23uC in summer (DHM 1999).
The Annapurna massif and approximately 7629 sq km of the surrounding
area were designated the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) in 1986 and
remains the largest protected area in Nepal. Well known for its great topographic
relief and climatic gradations, the area holds great biological diversity including
over 1200 species of flowering plants, 100 mammals, 470 birds, 40 reptiles, and 20
amphibians (NTNC 2008, 2009). Over 180 plant species have been documented in
Figure 1. The massif of Annapurna, ‘Goddess of the Harvest,’ towers over the village of Manang, our
study site, and includes several neighboring peaks. Pictured above: Annapurna II (7937 masl) and IV
(7525 masl). (EKatie M. Konchar 2011).
the alpine areas surrounding the village of Manang, 59% of which are endemic to
the Himalaya while 76% are useful to the local people (Salick et al. 2014b).
Indeed, ethnobotanical knowledge is very rich in Manang (Bhattarai et al. 2006;
Ghimire et al. 1999; Pohle 1990) and surrounding areas (Aumeeruddy-Thomas et
al. 2004; Ghimire et al. 2006, 2008; Lama et al. 2001; Shrestha et al. 2000b).
Manang District, which includes Manang and several other villages, is one of
the least populated districts of Nepal with 6538 people, 1480 households, and
a population density of 3 persons per square km (CBS 2012; Gurung 1976).
Although several ethnic groups characterize the region (Aase et al. 2009),
indigenous residents of Manang village are popularly known as Manangi or
Manangba. They are of Tibetan origin, speak a Tibeto-Burman language, and
a majority practice Buddhism (Chaudhary et al. 2007; Spengen 1987).
Due to the Marshyangdi Valley’s extreme remoteness, the Manangi were
given special trading privileges in 1789 and are well-known long distance traders
throughout Southeast Asia (Spengen 1987; Subedi 2007). While Manang remains
an important center of trade from Tibet via nearby high mountain passes (NTNC
2008), Manang’s socio-ecological system relies on tightly woven agropastoral
practices. Traditionally, the Manangi grow wheat, barley, and buckwheat
during the summer months on limited arable land along the valley bottom and
Figure 2. The Marshyangdi river valley, within the Annapurna Conservation Area, Western Nepal.
Manang village (3540 masl) is shadowed by the Annapurna massif, which includes the peaks of
Annapurna I, II, III, IV and Gangapurna. Thorong La, at 5416 masl, is one of the world’s highest
mountain passes and connects Manang district with Mustang district to the west.
452 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
on south-facing terraces (Aase et al. 2009; Chaudhary et al. 2007). Cultivated
crops are dependent on irrigation from nearby glacier and snow meltwater as
well as on traditional practices of manuring for soil amendment (Aase et al. 2009;
Chaudhary et al. 2007; Spengen 1987). Yak, sheep, and goat contribute meat, milk
products, manure, and supplement income when needed (Chaudhary et al. 2007;
Spengen 1987). All lands not suitable for agriculture are utilized for grazing and
the collection of fuel wood, fodder, and non-timber forest products (NTNC 2008),
including abundant and diverse medicinal plants (Bhattarai et al. 2006; Salick
et al. 2014b). However, both large-scale out-migration of village residents to the
major cities in Nepal and labor provision for tourism services has decreased the
proportion of land under cultivation in recent years and reduced labor
availability during the short growing and herding season (Aase et al. 2009;
Subedi 2007). Manang has a strong tradition of village governance which
manages the agro-pastoral system, local natural resources, and maintains village
culture (Aase and Vetaas 2007; NTNC 2008).
The District of Manang was first opened for tourism in 1977, and as home to
one of the world’s most popular trekking routes, the Annapurna Circuit, receives
more than 70,000 tourists per year (NTNC 2008, 2009). It takes approximately 21
days to circumambulate the Annapurna massif. Most trekkers stop in Manang
village to acclimatize before crossing Thorong La, one of the world’s highest
mountain passes at 5416 masl (Figure 2). The village now hosts an average of
13,000 domestic and foreign tourists per year (NTNC 2008).
Semi-structured Interviews
In September 2011, the co-authors completed 25 semi-structured household
interviews in the village of Manang. Interview methods largely followed that of
Byg and Salick (2009) and Salick et al. (2012). Households were selected
randomly using a coin toss. After receiving information as to the nature of the
inquiry and intended use of the information, participants gave verbal consent to
an interview or declined and were eliminated from the sample. In total, the
authors interviewed seven female and 18 male participants, whose ages ranged
from 20 to 79 years.
To address the main theme of inquiry, “How are the Manangi perceiving and
adapting to climate change?,”survey questions addressed: A) observations of
climatic change including changes in temperature, precipitation, and any
observable change on the landscape; B) impacts of these observations on
occupation (agriculture, livestock husbandry, and tourism services being the
main occupations in Manang); C) causes for any observed changes in the local
climate and environment; and D) any actions taken (adaptations) in response to
local observations.
Participatory Photography
We employed methods of participatory photography, also known as
Photovoice (Wang and Burris 1997), to portray perceived changes in the local
environment as well as adaptations to climate change through participant
photography and accompanying explanations. We provided cameras to six
Manangi participants willing to document aspects of the local environment that
reflected recent change and adaptation. After one week, we collected cameras
and interviewed participant photographers about his/her photo subjects,
discussing what changes/adaptations were represented by each photo and their
Repeat Photography
We used historic photographs from three sources: 1) Manang village
photographed by Marcel Ichac in May 1950 during the French Himalayan
Expedition to climb Annapurna I and published in Annapurna: First Conquest of an
8000-Meter Peak (Herzog 1953; Figure 3); 2) the Gangapurna glacial moraine and
lower trough taken by Toni Hagen, Swiss geologist and Himalayan explorer, in
1957 (exact date unknown; Figure 4); and 3) Gangapurna Glacier taken by
Zdenek Thoma during his travels to Manang in October 1979 (Figure 5). Repeat
photographs taken in September 2011 were compared against the historic
photographs to document landscape-level changes in the areas surrounding
Annapurna. Additionally, during interviews, historic photographs spurred
participants to recall local environmental history. For photographs that were
repeated in a season different from the original (Figure 3) or for which the
original photograph date is unknown (Figure 4), only factors uninfluenced by
seasonality were compared. For instance, in comparisons between Manang
village in 1950 and 2011 (Figure 3), visual changes in woody vegetation can be
compared while changes in permanent snow cover cannot.
Observations of Climatic Change
Seventy-two percent of respondents indicated that temperatures have
increased notably in Manang village (Figure 6). Residents mentioned especially
warmer temperatures during winter months, although summer days have also
been hotter, especially at mid-day. Several villagers noted that water on the
ground and in pipes freezes later in the year than previously observed. “Before in
winter water was ice; now we can easily wash our face in winter” (M:32). Only
12% of respondents noticed no change in temperature and 16% provided no
Forty-eight percent of respondents mentioned an overall increase in
precipitation, 8% said Manang now receives less rain than before, and 28%
indicated no change in precipitation (Figure 6). Twenty percent mentioned either
less predictable timing of the rainy season or more irregular rain intensity.
Seasonal rains used to come to Manang in June or July, many said; now, rains
may not start until August. “There is no guarantee of the season” (M:51). “When
you need irrigation, there is no water. When you don’t, there is too much” (M:53).
Twelve percent noted an increase in the duration of the rainy season such that in
the last 2-3 years, farmers have had to postpone the harvest of buckwheat, which
can begin to decay in the fields during late monsoon rains (M:23).
Snowfall has also decreased in Manang according to 60% of the villagers
interviewed (Figure 6). Many remarked that while previous snowfalls were
measured in meters, now they are measured in centimeters. No one mentioned
454 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
Figure 3. Repeat photography of Manang depicts woody vegetation moving to higher elevations
around the village. (A) A historic photo taken by Marcel Ichac in May, 1950 during the 1950 – 1951
French Himalayan Expedition to climb Annapurna I (EL. de Boissieu Ichac) was (B) retaken in
September 2011 (EBen Staver). Reference arrows and box denote the same points on the landscape in
each photo.
Figure 4. After 54 years, repeat photography of Gangapurna glacial moraine and lower trough
adjacent to Manang village shows accumulating meltwater in the lower trough with the potential for
glacial lake outburst flooding of villages in the Marshyangdi River valley below. (A) A historic photo
taken by Toni Hagan, Swiss geologist and Himalayan explorer, in 1957 (EKatrin Hagan) was
(B) retaken in September 2011 (EKatie M. Konchar). Reference arrows denote the same point on the
landscape in each photo.
456 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
an increase in snowfall, although 24% mentioned irregular snowfall events.
“Snowfall is no longer according to the season. Sometimes it is heavy; sometimes
it is dry” (F:59). Several respondents mentioned that snows are melting earlier in
the year, while later, unexpected snowfall events also occur. Many villagers
associated the increase in temperature with earlier and faster snow melt. Only
12% felt there was no change in the normal amount of yearly snowfall, and 28%
did not offer a response specific to snowfall.
Twenty-eight percent of respondents noted a decrease in permanent snow
cover on the mountains surrounding the village (Figure 6). “The mountains have
turned black,” one man said; “For seven to eight years, no snow has covered
the mountain” (M:66). Another man reminisced, “When I was small, the
snowline was where the lake is now. Now the snow is much higher up” (M:32).
An increase in glacial runoff from Gangapurna Glacier and the accumulation
of water behind Gangapurna’s glacial moraine has resulted in the formation of
what is now known as Gangapurna Lake. This phenomenon was consistently
mentioned as the biggest physical change in the local environment. Thirty-six
percent of respondents mentioned a decrease in the size of Gangapurna Glacier
and 24% mentioned an increase in the size of Gangapurna Lake (Figures 6 and
7a). “We can see glacial changes, a shifting up and now more vegetation” (M:46).
The village lama, a high ranking Buddhist monk and village authority, remarked,
Figure 5. Repeat photography of Gangapurna glacier shows glacial retreat over 32 years. (A) A historic
photo taken by Zdenek Thoma in October, 1979 (EZdenek Thoma 1979) was (B) retaken in September
2011 (EKatie M. Konchar). Reference arrows denote the same point on the landscape in each photo.
“When I was 15, Gangapurna Glacier was much larger. Now because of the
melting snow and temperature rise, it is much smaller. Before, the glacier came
all the way down to where the lake is now” (M:79). A shop owner (M:66)
remarked, “There used to be small hole in the glacier with water flowing. Now
there is heavy flow from a large area.” Another respondent (F:66) simply stated,
“Before, there was no lake.” A comparison of recent and historic photographs
illustrates the changes in woody vegetation coverage surrounding the village
(Figure 3), the increase in the size of Gangapurna Lake (Figure 4), and the rapid
retreat of the Gangapurna Glacier (Figure 5) highlighted during interviews.
Occupational Change
When asked about changes in agricultural practices in Manang, 72%
mentioned the ability to grow more and different vegetable varieties (Figures 6
and 7b). Traditionally, villagers grew and ate mostly barley, buckwheat, and
turnips. The Manangi now grow vegetables such as carrots and cauliflower for
cash trade and for tourists who eat at the new trekking lodges throughout the
village (Table 1). Alliums, cabbage, and radishes can be seen doing quite well in
outdoor home gardens (Figures 7b and 7c). Many hotels and tourist lodges have
Figure 6. Results of semi-structured interviews indicate respondents are concerned about increases
temperature and rainfall, decreases in snowfall and permanent snow cover, the recession of the
Gangapurna Glacier and an increase in the size of Gangapurna Lake. While participants indicated an
increase in vegetable varieties grown in the village, there has been no change to the agricultural
calendar (planting and harvesting dates) and no clear consensus on changes to the number of tourists
visiting the village (n525).
458 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
recently built small seasonal greenhouses in courtyard areas to produce
vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and pumpkins.
A small seed exchange has developed to test new varieties from neighboring
villages and from as far away as Kathmandu (M:51). Fruit tree crops are also
being cultivated for cash profit, including apples, apricots, plums, and walnuts
(M:63), although these varieties were deliberately introduced within the last 50
years (Table 1). Participants specifically pointed to the recent increase in
temperature as the main reason for the increased productivity and diversity in
the village’s new crops.
When asked if climate related changes have affected the timing of agricultural
practices in Manang, 36% of respondents said that there had been no change in the
planting and harvesting seasons (Figure 6). Field crops are planted in the Nepali
month of Chaitra (mid-March to mid-April) and harvested in Bhadau (mid-
August to mid-September). Exact planting and harvesting dates within each
season are determined by the village lama each year based on astrological
readings and day length. Villagers follow the lama’s recommendations faithfully
Table 1. List of traditional montane field crops and the “new” vegetable and fruit tree crops now
grown in Manang Village.
Family Latin binomial
name Nepali name Location
Brassicaceae Brassica rapa L. Turnip Gaante mulaa Field; Home
Polygonaceae Fagopyrum
esculentum Moench
Buckwheat Phaaphar Field
Poaceae Hordeum vulgare L. Barley Jau, Uwaa Field
Fabaceae Pisum sativum L. Pea Keraau Field; Home
Solanaceae Solanum tuberosum L. Potato Aalu Field; Home
Amaryllidaceae Allium spp. L. Onion Pyaaj, Lasun,
Ban lasun,
Home garden
Brassicaceae Brassica juncea
(L.) Czern.
Raayo Home garden
Brassicaceae Brassica oleracea
var. botrytis L.
Cauliflower Kaauli Home garden
Brassicaceae Brassica oleracea
var. capitata L.
Cabbage Bandaa gobhi Home garden
Solanaceae Capsicum annuum L. Sweet pepper Bhende
Solanaceae Capsicum annuum L. Hot pepper Khursaani Greenhouse
Cucurbitaceae Cucumis sativus L. Cucumber Kaankro Greenhouse
Cucurbitaceae Cucurbita maxima
Pumpkin Pharsi Greenhouse
Apiaceae Daucus carota L. Carrot Gaajar Home garden
Juglandaceae Juglans regia L. Walnut Okhar Home garden
Asteraceae Lactuca sativa L. Lettuce Saag Greenhouse
Rosaceae Malus pumila Mill. Apple Syaau Home garden
Rosaceae Prunus armeniaca L. Apricot Khurpaani Home garden
Rosaceae Prunus domestica L. Plum Aaru bakharaa Home garden
Brassicaceae Raphanus sativus L. Radish Mulaa Home garden
Solanaceae Solanum lycopersicum L. Tomato Tamaatar Greenhouse
Amaranthaceae Spinacia oleracea L. Spinach Palungo Greenhouse
and we could not determine whether his directives were changing over time.
More frequent irregular rainfall events and unpredictable monsoon season length,
however, have affected the productivity of barley and buckwheat (M:60).
Although the planting and harvesting times are the same, the buckwheat is
sometimes not ready during the prescribed harvesting time (M:49). In other years,
late monsoon rains have delayed the harvest and crops have begun to rot in the
fields (F:59).
Responses to changes in the tourism industry in Manang were mixed: 36% of
respondents felt that the number of tourists visiting Manang had decreased, 20%
said the number increased, and 44% could not say if tourism had increased or
decreased (Figure 6). A few respondents cited changes in the local environment
and particularly climate as causes for the decrease in the number of tourists.
“Climate change affects the travel of tourists” (M:23). With irregular snow fall
Figure 7. Participatory photography by the villagers of Manang (2011) revealed perceived changes in
the local environment and adaptations to climate change: (A) a growing Gangapurna glacial lake;
(B) an increase in home gardens and new vegetable crops (e.g., radish and cabbage), (C) an increase in
tourist lodging, (D) terraced fields at higher elevations, and (E) the exchange of traditional flat-topped
roofs for (F) new corrugated tin roofs. (EManangi participants; n56).
460 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
events, it is difficult for trekkers to safely travel the steep and narrow trails above
Manang. It has become more difficult for locals who advise and guide travelers to
determine when it is safe to make the trek across Thorong La (Figure 2). With less
permanent snow cover on the Annapurna Mountains, the beauty of the valley is
said to be disappearing. “In 30-40 years, if there is no snow on the mountain, this
will affect tourism” (M:46).
Perceptions of Climate Change
When asked why the climate of Manang was changing, 36% gave explanations
specifically pertaining to increased carbon dioxide, pollution, or development,
while 64% could not provide an explanation or were unsure. Of those villagers
who were not sure why there has been so much recent environmental change to the
landscape and climate of Manang, all but one agreed that the climate has changed.
Of those villagers (36%) who gave an explanation for their observed changes in the
climate and physical environment, two respondents mentioned carbon dioxide
specifically. One had learned about carbon dioxide from the news (M:40); another
had been trained by Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) to teach
villagers about climate change and especially deforestation (M:46).
Some respondents (16%), especially those of the older generations, provided
spiritual rationale for the observed changes in the climate or physical
environment of the Marshyangdi Valley. Many attributed it to the gods; some
viewed the changes as benevolent. “Buddha has made the climate warmer,” one
shop owner told us (M:60). When asked to explain why, he replied, “to help the
cranes make their journey across the mountains,” most likely referring to the
Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo L.), an International Union for Conservation
of Nature (IUCN) species of least concern that migrates across the Himalaya.
“Warmer weather makes it easier for the young cranes to cross the mountains.
Once the birds have finished crossing the mountains, the weather will return to
normal” (M:60). Others viewed the changes as malevolent and fear that a lack of
spiritual devotion or immoral actions have resulted in abandonment by the gods.
“The mountain god has gone and the mountains have turned black” (F:66).
Several villagers spoke to a deep sense of spiritual loss associated with the loss of
mountain snows and the receding glacier. “We live in the lap of the Himalaya. If
there are no snow mountains, no glaciers, our identity is gone” (M:46).
Adaptations to Climate Change
Overall, the Manangi are shifting their agricultural practices away from
growing only traditional field crops such as buckwheat and barley to the
production of vegetables and fruit trees that are now able to be grown in
Manang’s milder climate (Table 1). A primary adaptation to the changes in
the climate of Manang is the development of kitchen gardens, the use of
greenhouses, and seed sharing programs described above. Agroforestry such as
the cultivation of apple trees is also increasingly practiced in the village. The
production of vegetables and fruit trees not only supplements the Manangi diet,
but also services the growing tourism industry of the village.
Another frequently mentioned adaptation to climate change in Manang is
a change in roofing materials. Villagers have gradually replaced the traditional
flat-topped mud and thatch roofs characteristic of the region with pitched
corrugated tin sheeting material that sheds water (Figures 7e and 7f). This is
certainly a result of economic development and improved access to external
resources; however, it is also one of the most effective adaptations to more
frequent and heavier precipitation in the form of rain instead of snow (Figure 6).
Observations of Climate Change
Almost three-quarters of the villagers interviewed observed increases in
Manang’s annual temperature. This is congruent with temperature data collected
for the District (PANON 2009). Nepal’s mountainous regions have experienced
a rise in maximum temperature of 0.06 - 0.12uC per year (Shrestha et al. 1999) and
are expected to continue warming at an average annual rate of 0.92uC by 2039
and 2.6uC by 2069 (Cruz et al. 2007). The Manangi observed temperature
increases most notably during the winter months, a trend confirmed for semi-
arid areas of Asia where cold season temperatures have increased 2.4uC every 50
years (Christensen et al. 2013; Shrestha et al. 2012). Manang can continue to
expect the greatest temperature increases during winter. Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) authors estimate December to February
temperatures to increase by 1.2uC by 2039 and 3.2uC by 2069 in South Asia (Cruz
et al. 2007). Annual and seasonal warming is especially rapid in high elevation
regions and will continue to rise at rates greater than areas of similar latitude (Liu
and Chen 2000; Singh et al. 2010; Solomon et al. 2007). This poses great concern
for the Manangi livelihood and is expected to affect agriculture, food security,
tourism, and the availability of water.
In the rain shadow of the Annapurna massif, the Manang District is situated
in one of the lowest precipitation pockets of Nepal. More than half (234 mm) of its
average annual precipitation (428 mm) falls during the monsoon season, June to
September (PANON 2009). Observed trends in precipitation data for the
Himalaya are consistent with Manangi observations; precipitation is increasing
overall while becoming more irregular and difficult to predict. Shrestha et al.
(2012) show an average 6.5 mm/year increase in precipitation across the
Himalaya over a 25 year period (1982-2006), largely due to an increase in summer
monsoon precipitation. Continued increases in both annual and monsoonal
precipitation are expected (Cruz et al. 2007; Shrestha et al. 2000a) and will have
significant impacts in Manang where even low amounts of summer precipitation
quench existing agricultural fields and heavily influence the growing season
(Dannevig 2007; Xu et al. 2009). Unexpected changes in both the duration and
intensity of the rainy season have already impacted the timing of the buckwheat
harvest in Manang, where villagers complain that extended monsoon rains can
create difficulties for harvesting at the designated time and cause crops to rot in
the field.
Although annual precipitation has increased overall, both regional and
global studies support the decrease in snowfall observed by 60% of those
interviewed (Figure 6). Shrestha et al. (2012) report an average decrease in
precipitation of 0.68 mm per year from December to February in the Himalaya.
462 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
The IPCC reports a 3% decrease in precipitation for the South Asian sub-region
during the same winter months correlated with a decreased likelihood of
snowfall events (Hartmann et al. 2013).
Global and regional studies parallel Manangi observations of permanent
snow cover change in the Marshyangdi Valley. Initial results from the first long-
term snow cover mapping and monitoring program in the Himalaya indicate
overall decreases in snow cover over the last decade (Gurung et al. 2011).
Shrestha and Joshi (2009), using GIS and remote sensing, also report a decreasing
trend in snow cover in the Nepalese Himalaya. The decrease in snow cover
noticed by the Manangi indicates an increase in exposed surface area
surrounding Manang and points to a decrease in albedo for the Annapurna
Mountain region. Increased sunlight absorption and concurrent warming of the
atmosphere are likely contributors to the changes in vegetative coverage
(Figure 3), glacial lake size (Figure 4), and glacial extent (Figure 5) observed
via repeat photography and documented elsewhere (Gurung et al. 2011; ICIMOD
2013; Mool et al. 2011; Nagaoka 1990).
Deglaciation like that being witnessed in Manang (Figure 5) is occurring at
unprecedented rates in Asia and is a major impact of climate change (Cruz et al.
2007). Glaciers have immense influence on local hydrological systems (ICIMOD
2013) and affect seasonal water availability, crop productivity, native vegetation,
and the tourism industry (Gurung et al. 2011; ICIMOD 2013; Xu et al. 2009).
Inputs from both snow melt and glacial runoff supply Manang’s irrigation
system and are vital sources of water outside of the monsoon season (Cruz et al.
2007; Dannevig 2007). Decreased availability of glacial meltwater and increased
dependence on unpredictable precipitation will affect village agricultural
The presence and extent of glacial lakes at 3000-5000 masl has increased in
Nepal (Mool et al. 2011) with concomitant risk of glacial lake outburst flooding
(GLOF) in steep and narrow river valleys (Ives et al. 2010; Olsson et al. 2014). The
growing Gangapurna glacial lake, not observed until after 1952 (NTNC 2008;
Vetaas 2007; Figure 4), represents an increased risk to the village of Manang.
Failure or breach of the Gangapurna morainal dam by avalanche, calving
glaciers, or rock falls could result in a catastrophic GLOF event (ICIMOD 2013;
Richardson and Reynolds 2000), with severe impacts to all villages along the
Marshyangdi valley (Ives et al. 2010). Residents of Manang should be educated
and prepared for an immediate response to hazards related to climate change
such as GLOF, avalanches, landslides, and mudflows (Ives et al. 2010; Rai and
Gurung 2005).
Occupational Change: Impacts of Climate Change on Agropastoralism
Current and expected impacts of climatic change, including warming
temperatures, increased variability in precipitation, changes in permanent snow
cover, and glacial retreat will greatly influence the agropastoral system of
Manang. Currently, crops such as barley and buckwheat can only be grown in
terraced fields (khet) on the dry south-facing slopes of the Marshyangdi River
valley (Figure 7d) and are dependent on monsoonal precipitation supplemented
with irrigation during pre- and post-monsoon months (Aase et al. 2009;
Chaudhary et al. 2007; Shrestha et al. 2000a). Although greater amounts of
meltwater may temporarily increase the potential for agricultural production in
the valley, meltwater quantities are eventually expected to decline with decreases
in permanent snow cover and glacial mass (Aase et al. 2009; Xu et al. 2009).
Although cabbage and buckwheat greens had previously supplemented the
Manangi’s traditional, grain-based diet (Anderson and Chapagain 2007),
the increased amount and variety of vegetables such as cauliflower, lettuces,
and tomatoes now being grown in Manang represents a shift from traditional
agropastoralism to cash crop production (Table 1). This ongoing transition in the
Manangi livelihood strategy is concurrent with and fostered by climatic change.
Perched at 3530 masl in the far reaches of the Marshyangdi River valley, the
village of Manang sits near the current maximum elevation for cultivated crops
(Aase et al. 2009; Chaudhary et al. 2007). However, as global climate change
influences local temperature and precipitation along the valley’s elevation
gradient, the limits for crop production appear to be increasing in elevation.
With an average observed warming trend of 0.09uC per year in Nepal’s
mountainous regions (Shrestha et al. 1999), isotherms will shift approximately 14
meters every year (based on adiabatic lapse rate of 6.5u/1000 m) resulting in
a gradual increase in higher elevation areas where temperatures are suitable for
agriculture. Several studies show plant and animal species shifting their range to
higher elevations in pursuit of ideal climatic conditions (Cruz et al. 2007; Salick et
al. 2005; Salick and Moseley 2012; Xu et al. 2009) and the upward movement of
montane ecosystems is being documented in the Himalaya (Baker and Moseley
2007; Dubey et al. 2003; PANON 2008). Shifting agricultural zones can also be
expected (Salick et al. 2014b; Xu et al. 2009), further increasing the possibilities for
more diverse fruit and vegetable production in Manang. At the time of this study,
climatic changes in Manang appear to have tipped the agricultural scales in favor
of the cultivation of vegetable crops historically grown at lower elevations
(Table 1).
Although the Manangi have increased the production of cash crops in
household gardens and greenhouses, it remains to be seen if other traditional
Manangi cultural practices can also adjust to a changing climate. The tradi-
tional practices or parampara of Manang include agricultural rules permitted by
the village lama and regulated collectively by the villagers (Aase and Vetaas
2007; Ghimire and Aase 2007). Changes to the parampara of Manang, particularly
to the governance of the agricultural calendar which designates crop sowing and
harvesting times, are needed if Manang is to adapt to rapid climatic change. Thus
far, the Manangi have stuck to the months traditionally designated by parampara
for planting and harvesting crops (typically April and September) (Chaudhary et
al. 2007) with exact dates based on an evaluation of day length. However, the
current and expected changes in temperature and precipitation in Manang will
have a heavy influence on the phenology of plants, including agricultural crops
(Xu et al. 2009). For instance, in a study on Himalayan alpine shrub and meadow
habitats, Shrestha et al. (2012) report shifts in both the duration and seasonality of
the growing season. Growing season advancement has been especially correlated
with high elevation areas, where winter and spring temperatures are warming
rapidly (Shrestha et al. 2012; Yu et al. 2010).
464 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
Manang’s current agricultural calendar is expected to become misaligned
with the start, end, and duration of the growing season as temperatures continue
to increase, especially during the winter months, and as the ideal growing season
shifts in time and length. Observed and anticipated irregularities in monsoon
precipitation will add to the difficulties for farmers attempting to plant and
harvest field crops at times designated by parampara. Changes in the productivity
of barley and buckwheat due to the irregularity of rainfall have already been
observed alongside frustrations with restricted harvest times. Although altera-
tions to the agricultural calendar may require changes to the long-standing and
well-respected cultural practices of parampara (Aase and Vetaas 2007; Ghimire
and Aase 2007), flexibility in these practices is necessary for Manang to adapt to
the rapidly changing climatic and hydrological conditions of the region.
Economic drivers and increased access to external resources may foster
continued change in the agricultural practices of the village. While the growth of
new crops parallels changing climatic conditions, it also corresponds with
a growing focus on the tourism industry (Ghimire and Aase 2007) and regional
economic development. The tourism industry has brought big changes to
Manang, including the construction of lodges and cafes for trekkers on the
Annapurna Circuit (Figures 7c and 7f), and it is now vital to the economic
sustainability of the village (NTNC 2008; Subedi 2007). Another major change is
on the horizon for the Marshyangdi River Valley; a road is being constructed
from Chame to Manang (Figure 2). Although villagers interviewed relayed
mixed feelings about the anticipated outcomes of the future road, it is likely to
foster an even greater shift in livelihood strategy from traditional agropastor-
alism to tourism, an increase in the growth of cash crops, particularly high profit
garden vegetables, and a decline in the area under traditional cropping patterns
(NTNC 2008). The Manangi way of life will certainly be affected by the increased
opportunities for travel into and outside the village and access to new goods
and services a road through the Marshyangdi River Valley will bring. Continued
research at the village and district level is needed to determine the impacts
improved access will have on the traditional knowledge, agricultural practices,
and socio-ecological system of Manang.
Perceptions of Climate Change
The villagers of Manang are acutely aware of and concerned about climate
related changes to their local environment. However, their understanding of the
causes and potential repercussions of those changes varied widely. Local
ecological knowledge, individual experiences, spiritual beliefs, and community
values all contribute to how climate-induced change is perceived in Manang.
Results indicate that a greater understanding of the scale and especially the local
implications of climatic change is needed before villagers can effectively engage
in relevant adaptation planning and management (Moser and Ekstrom 2010;
Petheram et al. 2010).
The Annapurna Conservation Area has made some initial steps toward
helping the Manangi increase their understanding of global climate change and
its potential impacts at the local level. With input from the district residents, the
National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) has developed a Sustainable
Development Plan of Manang (NTNC 2008). Although the Plan’s focus is on
poverty alleviation, the impacts of climate change are also considered along-side
the vulnerability of each district village. The question remains whether the speed
at which the Manangi are able to grasp the long-term changes expected and then
develop and implement options that can keep pace with the rapid rate of climate
change impacts to the region.
Adaptations to Climate Change
Himalayan inhabitants are intrinsically familiar with climatic variability and
demonstrate immense adaptability (Byg and Salick 2009; Nakashima et al. 2012;
Salick et al. 2005). Strategies for adaptation to both the geographical and seasonal
variations characteristic of mountainous regions are inherently place-based
(Sherpa 2014; Vedwan and Rhodes 2001) and built upon a long history of local
ecological knowledge. The villagers of Manang have already undertaken several
short-term adaptive measures in response to recent effects of climate change. The
gradual replacement of flat-topped roofs made of mud and thatch (Figure 7e)
with pitched tin roofing material (Figure 7f) is certainly a result of improved
access to external resources, but it also exemplifies the increasing pressure of
climatic change in Manang.
Diversification of livelihood, however, is the most evident long-term
adaptation strategy in Manang, and it is one that concurrently addresses both
climatic change and ongoing economic development in the region (Aase et al.
2009; NTNC 2008; PANON 2008). The shift from the sole practice of traditional
agropastoralism to a more diversified blend of agropastoralism, agroforestry,
cash-crop production, and tourism services signifies a large-scale transformation
within the socio-ecological system of Manang and may enable greater resiliency
to long-term climatic change. A climatic tipping point along the Marshyangdi
River valley’s elevation gradient may also foster the transition from subsistence
agropastoralism to the production of cash crops and a tourism based economy by
expanding the area suitable for crop production and the crop varieties that can
survive. However, flexibility within the traditional regulatory practices of
parampara, especially with respect to limited planting and harvesting days, is
necessary for continued adaptive transformation of the agropastoral system to
occur. While the Manangi maintain a great treasure of local ecological
knowledge, their ability to adapt depends on an understanding of how climate
change will affect their local environment and on a capacity to adjust within
a complex and interactive socio-ecological system (Xu et al. 2009). Their ability to
maintain cultural traditions through the climate tipping point will take ingenuity
and dedication to the traditional way of life.
Local observations of climate change impacts in Manang, including increases
in temperature, irregular precipitation patterns, and reduced permanent snow
cover and glacial extent, confirm scientific studies and are in line with the
predictions of climate change impacts in the region. Recording observations and
associated perceptions of climate change at the local level, however, provides
466 KONCHAR et al. Vol. 35, No. 3
place-specific and culturally contextualized information that cannot be obtained
from global or regional assessments. Results of semi-structured interviews show
that socio-cultural traditions, local ecological knowledge, and recent observations
of change directly influence local perceptions of climate change and play into
relevant, place-based strategies for adaptation. Recent adaptations to climate
change in Manang include a community-wide shift from the sole practice of
traditional agropastoralism to a more diversified blend of agropastoralism,
agroforestry, cash-crop production, and tourism services. Climate change may be
inducing an agricultural tipping point in Manang, fostering rapid adaptations in
traditional agricultural and pastoral practices. This includes increased pro-
duction of vegetable and fruit tree crops historically grown at lower elevations,
the use of greenhouses to extend the growing season, and local and regional seed
exchanges. Diversification in agricultural practices and continual adaptation of
the Manangi livelihood is of paramount importance for community resilience in
the face of the extremely rapid climatic changes characterizing the Himalaya. The
recognition and application of local ecological knowledge and adaptation
strategies such as those documented in Manang is vital to the survivorship of
remote Himalayan cultures and can provide key insights for community-based
adaptation throughout the region.
The authors thank the Government of Nepal, the National Trust for Nature
Conservation, and the Annapurna Conservation Area Project for permission to conduct
this work. Special thanks to Laurence de Boissieu Ichac, Katrin Hagan, Zdenek Thoma, and
Michal Thoma for permission to publish historic photographs. We especially acknowledge
the Manangi for sharing their knowledge, their stories, and their gracious hospitality. This
work was funded by the National Geographic Society (grant #8605-09 awarded to Jan Salick
for “Central Himalayan Alpine Biodiversity”) and was completed in conjunction with
botanical research supported by the Missouri Botanical Garden in collaboration with
Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University (see Salick et al. 2014b).
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... On the one hand, it can be presumed that the one-third reduction in the price of rice due to the Annapurna Highway [96] is contributing to the replacement of buckwheat as the predominant grain. On the other hand, the high labor requirement for buckwheat cultivation [97], combined with a general shift of agricultural products in touristic regions towards intensified vegetable production [115,116], results in decreasing production of traditional crops such as buckwheat. Furthermore, climatic constraints (the emergence of various pests and a concomitant decline in productivity due to a changing climate [84,117]) result in decreased productivity. ...
... Nevertheless, the irrigation channels and water reservoirs within the three investigated settlements lack adequate construction technologies (cemented or polyethylene pipes), so the seepage rate remains high. For several regions of the Annapurna-and Dhaulagiri-Trans-Himalaya, water scarcity and accompanying conflicts are attributable to insufficient runoff in general but also to inefficient irrigation techniques [53,103,110,115]. This is further exacerbated by the steady increase within the tourism sector and the excessive demand for freshwater resources. ...
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The Nepalese Mustang District is subject to profound environmental change. In recent decades, rising temperatures have been apparent, accompanied by increasing precipitation variability and a reduction in glacier extent. In a semi-arid climate, this reduces water availability and threatens irrigation-based subsidence agriculture. In addition, the region is experiencing rapid socio-economic change due to a new road connecting the former periphery to new markets downstream. This enables a higher market orientation for agricultural products and improved accessibility for tourists. In recent decades, these changes have triggered severe transformations in the local land-use systems and settlements, which are investigated in this study. Detailed on-site re-mappings of the settlements of Marpha and Kagbeni were performed based on historical maps from the early 1990s. Additionally, land-use patterns and functionality of buildings in the district capital of Jomsom and in the settlement Ranipauwa/Muktinath were mapped. For all settlements, a profound increase in cash crop (apple) cultivation can be observed since the 1990s. Recently, new cultivation practices such as intercropping have been extensively introduced as an adaptation strategy to climate extremes. Demand for different crops from the new markets downstream is causing a significant decline in local, well-established cultivation of traditional crops such as buckwheat. This corroborates with an increasing demand for freshwater for the enhanced vegetable cultivation used for inter-cropping. Simultaneously, the freshwater demands from the tourism sector are steadily increasing. In a region where water quality is deteriorating and springs are already drying up due to climate change, this will probably lead to further challenges regarding the allocation of water in the future.
... 220,221 Cryospheric changes also impact cultural values and human well-being. 222 Humans pursue cryospheric aesthetics and religious beliefs. For example, the loss of glaciers could threaten the local ethnic identity and be viewed as the result of a failure to show respect to sacred beings, leading to environmental degradation and the decline of natural and social orders. ...
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The sustainability of life on Earth is under increasing threat due to human-induced climate change. This perilous change in the Earth's climate is caused by increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily due to emissions associated with burning fossil fuels. Over the next two to three decades, the effects of climate change, such as heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, storms, and floods, are expected to worsen, posing greater risks to human health and global stability. These trends call for the implementation of mitigation and adaptation strategies. Pollution and environmental degradation exacerbate existing problems and make people and nature more susceptible to the effects of climate change. In this review, we examine the current state of global climate change from different perspectives. We summarize evidence of climate change in Earth’s spheres, discuss emission pathways and drivers of climate change, and analyze the impact of climate change on environmental and human health. We also explore strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation and highlight key challenges for reversing and adapting to global climate change.
... For instance, in Jammu and Kashmir, summer varieties of rice and traditional Kashmiri apples have vanished, and paddy land has been converted to rainfed dry land in some areas due to increasing temperature and untimely snow and rainfall (R. C. Sharma et al., 2017). In Mustang and Manang, Nepal, higher temperatures and increased meltwater availability have created a conducive environment for growing fruits, vegetables, and other cash crops (Manandhar et al., 2011;Konchar et al., 2015), which were hitherto unsuitable given climatic conditions. ...
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The HKH region is experiencing non-climatic as well as cryospheric drivers of change (high confidence). Cryospheric change in the region has implications for the lives and livelihoods of more than 1.9 billion people. Understanding the intersections between cryospheric change and societies is essential to undertaking effective adaptation policies and practices to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Impacts of non-climatic drivers of change: People in the HKH region are experiencing multiple climatic and non-climatic drivers of change. These drivers of change are interwoven and have significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of mountain people as well as their capacity to respond or adapt to these changes. Mountainous areas in the region have witnessed economic growth and infrastructural and technological development, which is expected to continue (high confidence). Access of local communities to governmental institutions and their services is improving (high confidence), but this is also resulting in a weakening of traditional institutions (high confidence), with implications for adaptive capacity. Impacts of cryospheric change on society The major livelihoods of mountain communities are agriculture, livestock, tourism, and the collection and trading of medicinal and aromatic plants. The contribution of cryospheric services to these mountain livelihoods is high (high confidence). Cryospheric change, particularly changes in snowfall pattern, have adversely affected the livelihoods of communities (high confidence). Major adverse impacts include crop loss and failure, fodder shortage, livestock deaths, decrease in the availability of medicinal and aromatic plants, and degradation of aesthetic experiences. In many areas, communities have abandoned agriculture and pastoralism in response to cryospheric change and other non-climatic drivers to cryospheric change and other non-climatic drivers of change (medium confidence). These impacts have increased the socioeconomic vulnerability of mountain communities (high confidence), including food and nutrition insecurity. However, there are a few short-term positive impacts of cryospheric change on agriculture, pastoralism, and tourism – such as improved access to previously inaccessible sites for animal grazing and tourism. As the cryosphere changes along with the social, economic, and political dynamics in mountain societies, these cryosphere–livelihood linkages may gradually decrease (low confidence). High mountain communities in the HKH region are heavily dependent on snow and glacial meltwater to meet their water needs (high confidence). This reliance is not limited to mountainous areas. Water supply systems in downstream regions, including in densely populated urban settlements, are dependent on meltwater for domestic and commercial purposes (high confidence). Along with growing demand, poor management, and insufficient infrastructure, cryospheric change is likely to further exacerbate water shortages in the region (high confidence). Water stress in transboundary river basins in the HKH region – particularly the Indus, Ganges, and Amu Darya – have led to both conflicts as well as cooperation for managing water resources among the countries sharing the river basins (medium confidence). Components of the cryosphere also play a major role in the cultural, religious, and spiritual beliefs and practices of high mountain societies and influence their well-being (medium confidence). Human societies have ascribed spiritual relevance to the high mountains since ancient times; pilgrimages to the mountains have been made since the beginning of recorded human history. Tied to the spiritual reverence Indigenous communities hold for their natural environs is the understanding that there is a need to protect the local environment, including its cryospheric components (low confidence). Loss of the aesthetic properties of the mountains, glaciers, and snow cover could be perceived as a loss of honour and pride and be interpreted as consequences of diminished morality and ethics (low confidence). These effects could potentially decrease the attractiveness of high mountain sites for tourists, impacting local livelihoods (low confidence). Cryosphere-related hazards in the region have caused significant losses and damages of property, infrastructure, and lives, including tangible and intangible cultural heritage (high confidence). These disasters have led to a loss of traditional knowledge, increased social and economic burdens, and caused psychological stress and displacement (high confidence). People’s perceptions of cryosphere-related risks are shaped by socioeconomic, cultural, religious, and political factors, all of which determine their responses (low confidence). Cryosphere-related hazards are becoming more complex and devastating as they are increasingly interlinked with other environmental extremes (e.g., landslides, rockfall, seismic activity, and heavy rain), creating cascading hazards (medium confidence). The exposure of people and infrastructure to these hazards has increased due to a rise in population and an intensification of economic activities in the region (medium confidence). Cryosphere related hazards are projected to increase in the HKH region in the future, adding investment burdens with long-term implications for national and regional economies (medium confidence). Understanding of the implications of cryospheric change on livelihoods, water supply, and cultural heritage in upstream and downstream communities remains inadequate for robust adaptation action and effective sustainable development (high confidence). Adaptation to cryospheric change: Adaptation measures adopted by households and communities in response to cryospheric change can be broadly categorised as behavioural, technological, infrastructural, financial, regulatory, institutional, and informational. Behavioural and technological measures are the most reported across different sectors. These measures are mostly reactive, autonomous, and incremental in nature, and unable to fulfil the necessary speed, depth, and scope of adaptation (high confidence). With cryospheric change possibly taking on unprecedented trajectories, these measures may not be effective in the long term. There are concerns that communities may not be able to cope with an increased magnitude and complexity of extreme events as they try and navigate persistent socioeconomic challenges (high confidence). Local communities are already abandoning their traditional livelihoods and settlements, pointing towards an evident adaptation deficit to cryospheric change (medium confidence). Constraints and limits to adaptation, along with insufficient understanding of the interactions between cryospheric and non-climatic drivers and the associated impacts on mountain societies, could potentially hinder the overall target of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (medium confidence). To address this, there is an urgent need to integrate adaptation to cryospheric change with sustainable development, specifically in the high mountains (high confidence).
... For instance, in Jammu and Kashmir, summer varieties of rice and traditional Kashmiri apples have vanished, and paddy land has been converted to rainfed dry land in some areas due to increasing temperature and untimely snow and rainfall (R. C. . In Mustang and Manang, Nepal, higher temperatures and increased meltwater availability have created a conducive environment for growing fruits, vegetables, and other cash crops (Manandhar et al., 2011;Konchar et al., 2015), which were hitherto unsuitable given climatic conditions. ...
... Similar results were published by Marahatta et al. (2009). The highest significant increase in the maximum temperature is seen during the winter season at Chame, which is similar to the findings published by Konchar et al. (2015). Shrestha & Aryal (2011) also found that warming in the winter season in high-altitude regions is more compared to other seasons. ...
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Despite the increased frequency of extreme climate events including their significance in Nepal's socio-economy, climate studies have seldom considered extremes, and even fewer have considered them in combination with temperature and precipitation. This study aimed at examining the trend of climate variables in Gandaki Province, Nepal. Daily temperature and precipitation data of five stations between 1990 and 2020 were analyzed. Modified Mann–Kendall and Sen's slope methods were used to detect trend and magnitude. The Mann–Whitney–Pettitt test was used to detect abrupt changes, and the Pearson correlation coefficient was used to find the correlation. The result showed an increasing trend and a significant abrupt change in the maximum temperature for all stations. A decreasing trend in the minimum temperature was observed in the Himalayas and the Hill region, whereas an increasing trend was seen in Siwalik and Terai regions. The Jomsom station, however, behaved differently by showing an increasing trend in precipitation and the number of rainy days. The majority of the temperature indices showed an increasing trend unlike precipitation indices, which showed a mixed result. The maximum five-day precipitation and consecutive dry days showed a significant positive correlation with altitude. The results indicate an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate conditions in Gandaki Province. HIGHLIGHTS The paper analyzes the trend in the mean and the extreme value of temperature and precipitation.; High altitude region could experience an extreme climate condition with frequent heavy rainfall and drought periods, while Siwalik and Terai regions could experience frequent drought periods.; The results will help the relevant stakeholders to understand the change happening in the Gandaki Province.;
... [18,19,20,21]. In some studies, it has been determined that agricultural yields are significantly reduced at high temperatures and the predicted losses in production are very large in future climatic conditions, even when long-term adaptation is taken into account [22,23,24,25,26]. ...
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While 3.54 billion people lived in the world in 1950, this number reached 7.78 billion in 2020. The increase in human activities due to the rapidly increasing world population increases the share of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and causes climate change by causing global warming. Today, climate change is increasing its impact and sectors are negatively affected. Agriculture is a sector that both affects and is affected by climate change. Due to climate change, soil and water resources are damaged, agricultural production decreases and food security is endangered. Farmers' willingness and ability to adapt to climate change depend on their knowledge of climate change. This information is closely related to the information sources used by the farmers. In the study, the perception of climate change of farmers producing corn will be determined and the information sources used will be examined. 27% of the maize produced in the world is used in human nutrition and 73% is used as animal feed. Therefore, the perception of climate change and the information sources used are very important in maize producers. In the study, the sample size was determined as 77 with a 95% confidence interval and a 5% margin of error, according to the stratified sampling method, which is one of the simple random sampling methods. The questions about the climate change of the maize producers were analyzed with the Likert type scaling method. Agricultural enterprises perceive climate change as drought (4.78), global warming (4.65) and seasonal change (4.61). Looking at the information sources used, neighboring farmers, family members (4.61), television (3.79) and internet (3.78) were identified. Leading farmers in the research area should be informed about climate change. In addition, information that will raise awareness about climate change should be included on television and the internet.
... As forest fire risks increase due to climate induced drought and extreme temperatures, some mountain tourism infrastructure will be in greater direct fire risk, while mountain tourist experiences may be indirectly impacted by smoke inhibiting tourist health or views and vistas or access closure to areas for safety concerns (Sanders & Laing, 2009). In Annapurna (Nepal), tourism operators were concerned that reduced snow cover will decrease landscape attractiveness (Konchar et al., 2015), an issue also confirmed by residents in Tibet (Wang & Qin, 2015). ...
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Mountain landscapes and communities are highly sensitive and vulnerable to climate change. Tourism in mountain regions is highly dependent on natural resources and attractions which are very sensitive to climatic changes. This systematic review analyzing 276 papers, provides a comprehensive analysis of scientific literature dealing with climate change impacts on mountain tourism. While the impacts on the snow season are predominantly negative, impacts to summer season activities range from positive to negative. Contradictory results and lack of research in some regions and tourism activities means the overall impact is far from clear. We identified seven key knowledge gaps: underrepresentation of studies for South America and Africa, lack of appropriate data and indicators, an all-season perspective and investigation of opportunities, economic and socio-political consequences for mountain communities, the need for better science communication, and a lack of studies addressing liability and regulatory risks. Increasing our multidisciplinary understanding of potential climate impacts on mountain tourism and engaging stakeholders to prepare for the projected changes will help local populations in mountain communities create applicable and effective climate adaptation strategies.
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This article provides a stocktake of the adaptation literature between 2013 and 2019 to better understand how adaptation responses affect risk under the particularly challenging conditions of compound climate events. Across 39 countries, 45 response types to compound hazards display anticipatory (9%), reactive (33%) and maladaptive (41%) characteristics, as well as hard (18%) and soft (68%) limits to adaptation. Low income, food insecurity, access to institutional resources and finance are the most prominent of 23 vulnerabilities observed to negatively affect responses. Risk for food security, health, livelihoods and economic outputs are commonly associated risks driving responses. Narrow geographical and sectoral foci of the literature highlight important conceptual, sectoral and geographic areas for future research to better understand the way responses shape risk. When responses are integrated within climate risk assessment and management there is greater potential to advance the urgency of response and safeguards for the most vulnerable.
Confronted with the complex environmental crises of the Anthropocene, scientists have moved towards an interdisciplinary approach to address challenges that are both social and ecological. Several arenas are now calling for co-production of new transdisciplinary knowledge by combining Indigenous knowledge and science. This book revisits epistemological debates on the notion of co-production and assesses the relevant methods, principles and values that enable communities to co-produce. It explores the factors that determine how indigenous-scientific knowledge can be rooted in equity, mutual respect and shared benefits. Resilience through Knowledge Co-Production includes several collective papers co-authored by Indigenous experts and scientists, with case studies involving Indigenous communities from the Arctic, Pacific islands, the Amazon, the Sahel and high altitude areas. Offering guidance to indigenous peoples, scientists, decision-makers and NGOs, this book moves towards a decolonised co-production of knowledge that unites indigenous knowledge and science to address global environmental crises.
Confronted with the complex environmental crises of the Anthropocene, scientists have moved towards an interdisciplinary approach to address challenges that are both social and ecological. Several arenas are now calling for co-production of new transdisciplinary knowledge by combining Indigenous knowledge and science. This book revisits epistemological debates on the notion of co-production and assesses the relevant methods, principles and values that enable communities to co-produce. It explores the factors that determine how indigenous-scientific knowledge can be rooted in equity, mutual respect and shared benefits. Resilience through Knowledge Co-Production includes several collective papers co-authored by Indigenous experts and scientists, with case studies involving Indigenous communities from the Arctic, Pacific islands, the Amazon, the Sahel and high altitude areas. Offering guidance to indigenous peoples, scientists, decision-makers and NGOs, this book moves towards a decolonised co-production of knowledge that unites indigenous knowledge and science to address global environmental crises.
Conference Paper
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Using participatory approaches, Tibetan calendars and land use maps were drawn by Tibetan villagers in the Khawa Karpo area of northwest Yunnan. Villagers were then asked to identify changes in both calendars and land use over the last 20-50 years, identify the effects of climate change, and describe in detail their adaptations to climate change. Global climate change per say is seldom recognized among Tibetans (there has been little or no explanation of these concepts in the popular media), but virtually all people recognize such effects as warming temperatures, melting glaciers, irregular rain patterns, advancing treeline, etc. Additionally, semi-structured/open ended interviews with local professionals (e.g., agronomists, foresters, meteorologists, NGOs, monks, Tibetan calendar makers, etc.) were held in Deqin, Shangri-la and Lhasa. Results indicate that perceived causes of and reactions to climate change are often spiritual as with many other indigenous peoples around the world. In addition, tourists, pollution (both physical and spiritual), cars and electricity are often blamed for changes in climate. Both traditional knowledge processes (e.g. experimentation and innovation) and outcomes (e.g., locally adapted varieties, soil amendments, and pest management) are evident. Reported effects, adaptations and innovations include widespread farmer experimentation with new crops; varieties; planting, harvesting, and herding dates; field locations; increased organic soil amendments; afforestation; changes in NTP populations, phenologies and distributions; previously unseen or increased crop and animal diseases, insect pests, and weeds; and negative effects on Tibetan health and culture. One of the most striking innovations/adaptations is the often dominant commercial production of grapes and wine, including specialty and award winning ice-wine. Grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon) were originally introduced by French missionaries a hundred years ago, grown then only in church yard cloisters, protected from cold and severe weather, but which can now be grown throughout the Mekong (Lancang) river valley. This local adaptation is most recently being dominated by government purchase of grapes and wine production, taking the added value from locals and increasing the market to the point where traditional Tibetan agriculture is completely displaced by commercial production in some villages. Indigenous peoples, including Tibetans, with their direct vulnerability and adaptations to and perceptions and mitigations of climate change deserve a place at the table where climate change policy is made.
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Regional climates are the complex outcome of local physical processes and the non-local responses to large-scale phenomena such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and other dominant modes of climate variability. The dynamics of regional climates are determined by local weather systems that control the net transport of heat, moisture and momentum into a region. Regional climate is interpreted in the widest sense to mean the whole joint probability distribution of climate variables for a region including the time mean state, the variance and co-variance and the extremes. This chapter assesses the physical basis of future regional climate change in the context of changes in the following types of phenomena: monsoons and tropical convergence zones, large-scale modes of climate variability and tropical and extratropical cyclones. Assessment of future changes in these phenomena is based on climate model projections (e.g., the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 (CMIP3) and CMIP5 multi-model ensembles described in Chapter 12) and an understanding of how well such models represent the key processes in these phenomena. More generic processes relevant to regional climate change, such as thermodynamic processes and land–atmosphere feedback processes, are assessed in Chapter 12. Local processes such as snow–albedo feedback, moisture feedbacks due to local vegetation, effects of steep complex terrain etc. can be important for changes but are in general beyond the scope of this chapter. The main focus here is on large-scale atmospheric phenomena rather than more local feedback processes or impacts such as floods and droughts. Sections 14.1.1 to 14.1.3 introduce the three main classes of phenomena addressed in this Assessment and then Section 14.1.4 summarizes their main impacts on precipitation and surface temperature. Specific climate phenomena are then addressed in Sections 14.2 to 14.7, which build on key findings from the Fourth Assessment Report, AR4 (IPCC, 2007a), and provide an assessment of process understanding and how well models simulate the phenomenon and an assessment of future projections for the phenomena. In Section 14.8, future regional climate changes are assessed, and where possible, interpreted in terms of future changes in phenomena. In particular, the relevance of the various phenomena addressed in this chapter for future climate change in the regions covered in Annex I are emphasized. The regions are those defined in previous regional climate change assessments (IPCC, 2007a, 2007b, 2012). Regional Climate Models (RCMs) and other downscaling tools required for local impact assessments are assessed in Section 9.6 and results from these studies are used where such supporting information adds additional relevant details to the assessment. 14.1.1 Monsoons and Tropical Convergence Zones The major monsoon systems are associated with the seasonal movement of convergence zones over land, leading to profound seasonal changes in local hydrological cycles. Section 14.2 assesses current understanding of monsoonal behaviour in the present and future climate, how monsoon characteristics are influenced by the large-scale tropical modes of variability and their potential changes and how the monsoons in turn affect regional extremes. Convergence zones over the tropical oceans not only play a fundamental role in determining regional climates but also influence the global atmospheric circulation. Section 14.3 presents an assessment of these and other important tropical phenomena.
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Analyses of maximum temperature data from 49 stations in Nepal for the period 1971-94 reveal warming trends after 1977 ranging from 0.06°to 0.12°C yr-1 in most of the Middle Mountain and Himalayan regions, while the Siwalik and Terai (southern plains) regions show warming trends less than 0.03°C yr-1. The subset of records (14 stations) extending back to the early 1960s suggests that the recent warming trends were preceded by similar widespread cooling trends. Distributions of seasonal and annual temperature trends show high rates of warming in the high-elevation regions of the country (Middle MOuntains and Himalaya), while low warming or even cooling trends were found in the southern regions. This is attributed to the sensitivity of mountainous regions to climate changes. The seasonal temperature trends and spatial distribution of temperature trends also highlight the influence of monsoon circulation. The Kathmandu record, the longest in Nepal (1921-94), shows features similar to temperature trends in the Northern Hemisphere, suggesting links between regional trends and global scale phenomena. However, the magnitudes of trends are much enhanced in the Kathmandu as well as in the all-Nepal records. The authors' analyses suggest that contributions of urbanization and local land use/cover changes to the all-Nepal record are minimal and that the all-Nepal record provides an accurate record of temperature variations across the entire region.
Adequate knowledge of climatic change over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) with an average elevation of more than 4000 m above sea level (a.s.l.) has been insufficient for a long time owing to the lack of sufficient observational data. In the present study, monthly surface air temperature data were collected from almost every meteorological station on the TP since their establishment. There are 97 stations located above 2000 m a.s.l. on the TP; the longest records at five stations began before the 1930s, but most records date from the mid-1950s. Analyses of the temperature series show that the main portion of the TP has experienced statistically significant warming since the mid-1950s, especially in winter, but the recent warming in the central and eastern TP did not reach the level of the 1940s warm period until the late 1990s. Compared with the Northern Hemisphere and the global average, the warming of the TP occurred early. The linear rates of temperature increase over the TP during the period 1955–1996 are about 0.16°C/decade for the annual mean and 0.32°C/decade for the winter mean, which exceed those for the Northern Hemisphere and the same latitudinal zone in the same period. Furthermore, there is also a tendency for the warming trend to increase with the elevation in the TP and its surrounding areas. This suggests that the TP is one of the most sensitive areas to respond to global climate change. Copyright © 2000 Royal Meteorological Society
Collaborating Authors: Bee Gunn, Wayne Law, George Yatskievych, Wu Sugong, Fang Zhendong, Ma Jian, Wang Yuhua, Andrew Willson, Peng Shengjing, Zhang Chuanling, Sun Hongyan, Meng Zhengui, Liu Lin, Senam Dorji, Ana, Liqing Wangcuo, Sila Cili, Adu, Naji, Amu, Sila Cimu, Sila Lamu, Lurong Pingding, Zhima Yongzong, Loangbao, Bianma Cimu, Gerong Cili, Wang Kai, Sila Pingchu, Axima, and Benjamin Staver.TIBETAN LAND USE AND CHANGE NEAR KHAWA KARPO, EASTERN HIMALAYAS. Economic Botany 59(4):312-325, 2005. Tibetan land use near Khawa Karpo, Northwest Yunnan, China, incorporates indigenous forest management, gathering, pastoralism, and agriculture. With field-based GIS, repeat photography, and Participatory Rural Appraisal we quantitatively compare land use between higher and lower villages, and between villages with and without roads. Households in higher elevation (> 3,000 meters) villages cultivate more farmland (z = -5.387, P ≤ 0.001), a greater diversity of major crops (z = -5.760, P < 0.001), a higher percentage of traditional crops, and fewer cash crops (z = -2.430, P = 0.015) than those in lower elevation villages (< 2,500 meters). Villages with roads grow significantly more cash crops (z = -6.794, P ≤ 0.001). Both lower villages and villages with roads travel farther to access common property resources. Historical analyses indicate agricultural intensification in valleys, an increase in houses, new crop introduction, hillside aforestation, cessation of hunting, glacial retreat, and timberline advance within the past century. We suggest that Tibetan land use reveals trade-offs between high, remote villages and lower villages near roads. Higher villages offer abundant land and access to natural resources but short growing seasons and little market access; in contrast, lower villages have road and market access, an extended growing season, and modern technology, but limited access to land and many other natural resources.
There is a constant barrage of information about people destroying “nature”. Just as an example, to quote from the National Science Foundation (emphases added): Studies in Europe have drawn from 10,000 years of human occupation to illuminate human and environmental causes for increased erosion and desertification of the northern Mediterranean region. (NSB 99–133 1999). And…to better understand the human dimensions of deforestation… an interdisciplinary team… has combined theories of human decision-making about land cover conditions with detailed analyses of field sites. (NSB 00–22 2000) We need to counter such statements with examples of people who act successfully as conservationists, managers, and creators of biodiversity. These could help us learn to solve many of the environmental problems we face and the issues we address (Fenstad et al. 2002).
Conference Paper
A large number of plant resources have been under exploitation since time immemorial to fulfill the basic needs of the people living particularly in the rural communities. Knowledge on the use of medicinal plant resources is deeply rooted in the tradition and culture of the indigenous society. Approximately 85% people, particularly living in the rural areas, depend directly or indirectly on the traditional medicine based on herbal drugs. An attempt has been made to compile comprehensive information, largely based on published literature, on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) of Nepal, which are commonly available in crude drug market, under cultivation and in wild form. The Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Database of Nepal (MAPDON) encompasses over 1600 species of MAPs, including 1515 species of angiosperms, 19 species of gymnosperms, 56 species of pteridophytes, 5 species of bryophytes, 18 species of lichens, and 1 species of fungi. The database comprises comprehensive information on botanical name (current/accepted names and synonyms), vernacular names (English, Nepali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and other local names), key characters (habit and habitat), distribution, medicinal uses, chemical constituents, references, conservation status, and digital images of some selective species. The MAPDON is based and linked with Nepalese Plant Database (NPD) prepared by the collaborative project of The Natural History Museum (London) and Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu), under the aegis of Darwin Initiative (U.K.)