UMass Boston Study Finds Himalayas Warming More Rapidly Than the Rest of the Earth
May 16, 2012
Office of Communications
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) have found that the Himalayas, a biodiversity hotspot, is warming more rapidly than the rest of the globe.
A new study published in the recent issue of the journal PLoS One on May 15, authored by UMass Boston graduate student Uttam Babu Shrestha, Distinguished Professor of Biology Kamaljit Bawa, and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School Shiva Gautam reveals that the average annual mean temperature during the 25 year period (1982-2006) has increased by 1.5°C with an average increase of 0.06°C yr-1. This is about three times greater than the global average of temperature increase in the same time period. Similarly, the average annual precipitation during the same period has increased by 163mm or 6.52mmyr-1 in the Himalayas.
Uttam Babu Shrestha, the principal author of the paper, says, "Our study reaffirmed that Himalayas region is indeed experiencing rapid climate and associated changes in the various ecoregions."
Shrestha says that "local people have been noticing changes in the growing patterns of plants and our study confirms such changes."
According to the study, the average start of the growing season seems to have advanced by 4.7 days in the Himalayas in the 25-year period from 1982 to 2006.
"Much of the recent discussion about climate change in the Himalayas has been dominated by the extent of glacial melting. However, changes in two most critical parameters of climate, temperature and precipitation have not been yet fully analyzed," says Bawa, a faculty fellow at UMass Boston's Center for Governance and Sustainability and president of ATREE. "Our study fulfills a critical knowledge gap."
Local people of the Himalayas are witnessing the climate change, which has been impacting their agriculture and lives.
"This study provides scientific evidences of such changes," Shrestha claims.
The information provided by the study is at landscape level and a coarse-grained. The study further calls for fine scale study and ground based validation of results.