Himalayas Warming More Rapidly Than the Rest of the Earth?

Press embargo: 2 p.m. Pacific Time (5 p.m. Eastern) on May 15, 2015

Researchers associated with 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 report published in recent issue of the journal ‘PLoS One’ in May 15, 2012 authored by Uttam Babu Shrestha, Shiva Gautam and Kamaljit Bawa 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 and a graduate student at University of Massachusetts, Boston said “Our study reaffirmed that Himalayas region is indeed experiencing rapid climate and associated changes in the various ecoregions." He further added 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,” said Kamaljit S. Bawa, Distinguished Professor, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and President of ATREE. “Our study fulfills a critical knowledge gap,” he further added.

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,” Mr. Shrestha claimed. 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.

For full article: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036741
Date of Release: May 15, 2012
Place of Release: Boston, USA, and Bangalore, India
For further information contact:
Uttam Babu Shrestha [+977-9851012336]
Kamal Bawa [Kamal.bawa@umb.edu; +1 617 489 3481]

Photo credit: Uttam Babu Shresth