Climatic Change

, Volume 125, Issue 3–4, pp 445–460 | Cite as

Projected climate change impacts on spatial distribution of bioclimatic zones and ecoregions within the Kailash Sacred Landscape of China, India, Nepal

  • Robert J. ZomerEmail author
  • Antonio Trabucco
  • Marc J. Metzger
  • Mingcheng Wang
  • Krishna P. Oli
  • Jianchu Xu


Rapidly accelerating climate change in the Himalaya is projected to have major implications for montane species, ecosystems, and mountain farming and pastoral systems. A geospatial modeling approach based on a global environmental stratification is used to explore potential impacts of projected climate change on the spatial distribution of bioclimatic strata and ecoregions within the transboundary Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL) of China, India and Nepal. Twenty-eight strata, comprising seven bioclimatic zones, were aggregated to develop an ecoregional classification of 12 ecoregions (generally defined by their potential dominant vegetation type), based upon vegetation and landcover characteristics. Projected climate change impacts were modeled by reconstructing the stratification based upon an ensemble of 19 Earth System Models (CIMP5) across four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) emission scenarios (i.e. 63 impact simulations), and identifying the change in spatial distribution of bioclimatic zones and ecoregions. Large and substantial shifts in bioclimatic conditions can be expected throughout the KSL area by the year 2050, within all bioclimatic zones and ecoregions. Over 76 % of the total area may shift to a different stratum, 55 % to a different bioclimatic zone, and 36.6 % to a different ecoregion. Potential impacts include upward shift in mean elevation of bioclimatic zones (357 m) and ecoregions (371 m), decreases in area of the highest elevation zones and ecoregions, large expansion of the lower tropical and sub-tropical zones and ecoregions, and the disappearance of several strata representing unique bioclimatic conditions within the KSL, with potentially high levels of biotic perturbance by 2050, and a high likelihood of major consequences for biodiversity, ecosystems, ecosystem services, conservation efforts and sustainable development policies in the region.


Tibetan Plateau Representative Concentration Pathway Future Climate Condition Musk Deer Bioclimatic Zone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The study supports the goals and requirements of the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (, the KSL Conservation Strategy, and the KSL Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring Plan. The authors would like to acknowledge the many efforts that have gone into the KSLCI, and the many people that have contributed to provide the background information for this study. In particular we acknowledge the pivotal role of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, Nepal, and the lead partner organizations, namely the Institute for Geographic Research and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, G.B. Pant Institute for Himalayan Environment and Development of India, and the Central Institute of Botany, Tribuhvan University, Nepal. The research paper has been financially supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2014CB954100) and the IDRC- supported project on “Building Effective Water Governance in the Asian Highlands”. Additional support was also provided by the CGIAR Research Program 7: Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). We also thank German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), particularly Mr. Roman Röhrl for his personal unwavering support, the German Ministry of the Environment (BMZ) for supporting the early stages this research, and the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences for technical support and expertise. Many thanks to Dr. Robert Hijmans of the University of California–Davis for providing the downscaled CIMP5-ESMs. The authors would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions that have improved both the analysis and this paper. Finally, we'd like to thank the other members of the joint Russian-American field expedition to Kailash (2009), Deborah Bossio, Maya Zomer, Satya Zomer, and Uliana Sotnikova, for their joyful efforts and support.

Supplementary material

10584_2014_1176_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 3158 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Zomer
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Antonio Trabucco
    • 3
    • 4
  • Marc J. Metzger
    • 5
  • Mingcheng Wang
    • 1
  • Krishna P. Oli
    • 6
  • Jianchu Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia (KLPB), Kunming Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of ScienceKunmingChina
  2. 2.Centre for Mountain Ecosystem StudiesWorld Agroforestry Center (ICRAF)KunmingChina
  3. 3.IAFENT DivisionEuro-Mediterranean Center on Climate ChangeSassariItaly
  4. 4.Department of Science for Nature and Environmental Resources (DIPNET)University of SassariSassariItaly
  5. 5.School of GeoSciencesThe University of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  6. 6.International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)KathmanduNepal

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