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Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 683–698 | Cite as

Resilience and adaptation to extremes in a changing Himalayan environment

  • Vaibhav Kaul
  • Thomas F. Thornton
Original Article

Abstract

Human communities inhabiting remote and geomorphically fragile high-altitude regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change-related glacial hazards and hydrometeorological extremes. This study presents a strategy for enhancing adaptation and resilience of communities living immediately downstream of two potentially hazardous glacial lakes in the Upper Chenab Basin of the Western Himalaya in India. It uses an interdisciplinary investigative framework, involving ground surveys, participatory mapping, comparison of local perceptions of environmental change and hazards with scientific data, identification of assets and livelihood resources at risk, assessment of existing community-level adaptive capacity and resilience and a brief review of governance issues. In addition to recommending specific actions for securing lives and livelihoods in the study area, the study demonstrates the crucial role of regional ground-level, community-centric assessments in evolving an integrated approach to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation for high-altitude environments, particularly in the developing world.

Keywords

Climate change adaptation Adaptive capacity Resilience Disaster risk reduction Mountain environments 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are indebted to the following persons for their invaluable academic insights: Prof John Boardman, University of Oxford; Mr Raphael Worni, University of Berne; Dr R.K. Sood, Indian glaciologist; Dr Thomas E. Downing, Global Climate Adaptation Partnership; Dr Örjan Bodin, Stockholm Resilience Centre; Dr Fai Fung, University of Oxford and Mr Rajeev Issar, BCPR-UNDP. We also acknowledge with gratitude the logistical and informational support provided by the Government of Himachal Pradesh; the Regional Meteorological Centre, Shimla and the India Habitat Centre Library, New Delhi. The study could not have been completed without financial assistance from the Felix Scholarship, Environmental Change Institute and St. Anne’s College at the University of Oxford.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.DelhiIndia

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