UMass Boston Researchers Find Himalayas Warming More Rapidly Than the Rest of the Earth
May 17, 2012
Office of Communications
The Himalayas, a biodiversity hotspot, is warming more rapidly than the rest of the planet.
Researchers from UMass Boston and Bangalore’s Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment have found that the average annual mean temperature during the 25-year period from 1982 to 2006 increased by 1.5°C, with an average increase of 0.06°C per year — three times more than the global average of temperature rise in the same period. This has had an effect on rainfall too.
The findings were published on Tuesday in the recent issue of the journal PLoS One by UMass Boston graduate student Uttam Babu Shrestha and Distinguished Professor of Biology Kamaljit Bawa, and Shiva Gautam.
Shrestha, the principal author, said: “Our study confirmed that the Himalayas region is experiencing rapid climate and associated changes in various ecoregions.”
The Himalayas is a mountain range immediately at the north of the Indian subcontinent.
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 says.
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.