Assessment of perception and adaptation to climate-related glacier changes in the arid Rivers Basin in northwestern China

Abstract

In many mountainous areas of the world, glaciers serve as a source of fresh water that is of critical importance and contributes to the sustainability of agriculture and other socio-economic activities. An enhanced understanding of socio-economic consequences of the climate-related glacier changes is essential to the identification of vulnerable entities and the development of well-targeted environmental adaptation policies. A questionnaire and interviews of farmers in the Heihe River Basin were used to analyze their perception of cryospheric changes, attitudes towards mitigation of cryospheric changes, and the ways in which they perceived their responsibility. Preferred responses and interventions for cryospheric change and views on responsible parties were also collected and evaluated. Our investigation revealed that most rural residents were concerned about glacier changes and believed they would bring harm to present society, individuals, and families, as well as to future generations. The respondents’ perceptions were mainly influenced by the mass media. Most respondents tended to favor adaptation measures implemented by the government and other policy-making departments. An integrated approach will be needed to deal with the challenges to tackling climate-related glacier change.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Chinese Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016T90961, 2015M570864), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41661005), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41273010, 41361106), and Project of Major National Research Projects of China (2013CBA01808).

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Correspondence to Zhu Guofeng.

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Guofeng, Z., Dahe, Q., Jiawen, R. et al. Assessment of perception and adaptation to climate-related glacier changes in the arid Rivers Basin in northwestern China. Theor Appl Climatol 133, 243–252 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-017-2181-y

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