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Somos-Valenzuela M.A.,University of Texas at Austin | McKinney D.C.,University of Texas at Austin | Byers A.C.,Mountain Institute | Rounce D.R.,University of Texas at Austin
Technical (Online) Report - University of Texas at Austin, Center for Research in Water Resources | Year: 2013

Imja Lake is one of the most studied lakes in the Himalaya as well as one of the most rapidly evolving glacial lakes in Nepal. Many researchers have studied the lake and the potential of a glacier lake outburst flood from the lake. One of the important factors in assessing the outburst flood risk is the volume that could be released in the flood and good bathymetric data is necessary to estimate that value. This work reports on the 2012 bathymetric survey of Imja Lake and the rate of expansion that has been observed in the lake over the last two decades, since 1992. The survey was somewhat hampered by the extensive iceberg coverage of the lake in September 2012, but a good estimate of the bottom bathymetry and the current volume was obtained. When compared to previous surveys, it is very clear that the lake bottom has continued to deepen as the ice beneath the lake has melted. The average depth has increased by 62% since 2002 and continues to increase at a rate of 1.8 m/yr. The maximum depth has increased 28% since 2002 and is increasing currently at a rate of 5.8 m/yr. Perhaps more important in terms of glacier lake outburst flood risk is the continued rapid areal expansion of the lake which has expanded 41% since 2002 and is growing at a rate of 0.02 km2/yr. This expansion has resulted in an additional 6 million m3 of water for an outburst flood event, and increasing the maximum possible flood volume to 36.3 million m3 a 73% increase from what was calculated using 2002 data.

Sharma R.,Mountain Institute
Mountain Research and Development | Year: 2012

Mountains are hotspots of climate and land use change. The Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region features some of the world's most vulnerable ecosystems and is highly susceptible to climate change. Both climate change and land use transition in the HKH region have impacts on human health. A warming trend is driving the geographical expansion of disease outbreaks, whereas ecological changes and economic inequalities influence the spread of diseases. Altered distributions of vector species are early signs of climate change, and pests, pathogens, and parasites are among the first scourges to emerge during periods of transition. The distribution and seasonal transmission of vector-borne infections among humans may be affected by climate change. Information on the impacts of such changes on human health in the region is scanty. This article reviews literature on the impacts of climate change and land use transition on human health in the HKH region, specifically dealing with topics such as the relationship between climate change and health; health sensitivity, vulnerability, and adaptation; health determinants related to climate change; temperature extremes and health issues; air pollution, black carbon, and health; food security, nutrition, and health; land use change and infectious diseases; and population migration and livelihood transition. The article outlines an agenda for future research on climate change and human health for the HKH region. © 2012 International Mountain Society.

Daconto G.,HKKH Partnership Project | Sherpa L.N.,Mountain Institute
Mountain Research and Development | Year: 2010

We used participatory scenario planning to support strategic-level analysis by stakeholders in tourism and park management issues in Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. Authority and responsibility for protected area management in Nepal are gradually being devolved to local communities. Tourism growth and globalization are strengthening the links between social-ecological change in mountain protected areas and drivers of change at national, regional, and global scales. Park management needs to become forward looking, and local communities need to increase their grasp of potential long-term changes and associated uncertainty. Scenario planning is a tool for dealing with long-term uncertainty and complexity and for guiding adaptive management. We developed scenarios together with representatives of the tourism industry, park comanagement institutions, and communities. Stakeholders described their understanding of the social-ecological system of the park. They formulated and tested 4 scenarios of system change, based on plausible changes in governance systems and the role of outside tourism industry actors. Stakeholders can use scenarios to reflect on the inherent uncertainty of long-term change, to address potentially conflictual issues by exploring multiple perspectives, and to assess the need to negotiate strategic goals and long-term visions for the park. © 2010 International Mountain Society.

Somos-Valenzuela M.A.,University of Texas at Austin | McKinney D.C.,University of Texas at Austin | Byers A.C.,Mountain Institute | Rounce D.R.,University of Texas at Austin | And 2 more authors.
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences | Year: 2015

Glacial-dominated areas pose unique challenges to downstream communities in adapting to recent and continuing global climate change, including increased threats of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) that can increase risk due to flooding of downstream communities and cause substantial impacts on regional social, environmental and economic systems. The Imja glacial lake (or Imja Tsho) in Nepal, which has the potential to generate a GLOF, was studied using a two-dimensional debris-flow inundation model in order to evaluate the effectiveness of proposed measures to reduce possible flooding impacts to downstream communities by lowering the lake level. The results indicate that only minor flood impact reduction is achieved in the downstream community of Dingboche with modest (∼3 m) lake lowering. Lowering the lake by 10 m shows a significant reduction in inundated area. However, lowering the lake by 20 m almost eliminates all flood impact at Dingboche. Further downstream at Phakding, the impact of the GLOF is significant and similar reductions in inundation are likely as a result of lake lowering. © Author(s) 2015.

Kargel J.S.,University of Arizona | Leonard G.J.,University of Arizona | Shugar D.H.,University of Washington | Haritashya U.K.,University of Dayton | And 60 more authors.
Science | Year: 2016

The Gorkha earthquake (magnitude 7.8) on 25 April 2015 and later aftershocks struck South Asia, killing ∼9000 people and damaging a large region. Supported by a large campaign of responsive satellite data acquisitions over the earthquake disaster zone, our team undertook a satellite image survey of the earthquakes' induced geohazards in Nepal and China and an assessment of the geomorphic, tectonic, and lithologic controls on quake-induced landslides. Timely analysis and communication aided response and recovery and informed decision-makers. We mapped 4312 coseismic and postseismic landslides. We also surveyed 491 glacier lakes for earthquake damage but found only nine landslide-impacted lakes and no visible satellite evidence of outbursts. Landslide densities correlate with slope, peak ground acceleration, surface downdrop, and specific metamorphic lithologies and large plutonic intrusions. © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.

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