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Assessment of land use/land cover dynamics of Tso Moriri Lake, a Ramsar site in India


Wetlands accounts for 6% area of the Earth’s land cover and nearly 17% of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. They are of utmost importance to climate dynamics and are critical links between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Despite the need of high attention towards conserving and managing wetland resources, mapping them is a least practiced activity. This study shows the temporal change in land use and land cover pattern of Tso Moriri Lake, the highest altitude lake in India and designated as Ramsar site in year 2002, using multi-sensor and multi-date imagery. Due to change in hydro-meteorological conditions of the region, this lake area has been reduced. Since the lake recharge is dependent on snowmelt, hence change in climatic conditions (less snowfall in winters), to a certain extent, is also responsible for the decrease in water level and water spread of the lake. The result shows that the lake area has reduced approximately 2 km2 in the last 15 years, and also, agriculture, grasslands, and vegetation cover have increased to a significant extent. Agricultural land and grasslands have doubled while the vegetation cover has increased more than six times, showing the coupled effect of climate change and anthropogenic activities. Trend of temperature and precipitation corroborates the effects of climate change in this region.

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The authors would like to thank India Water Portal, Indian Meteorological Department and United States Geological Survey for providing the data to carry out this study. We express sincere and deep sense of gratitude towards the two anonymous reviewers for their comments on this paper. Without their critical but constructive comments, this paper would not have come out in this shape.

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Correspondence to Sharad Kumar Gupta or Dericks Praise Shukla.

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Gupta, S.K., Shukla, D.P. Assessment of land use/land cover dynamics of Tso Moriri Lake, a Ramsar site in India. Environ Monit Assess 188, 700 (2016).

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  • Tso Moriri Lake
  • Ramsar wetland
  • Land use/land cover (LULC)
  • Change detection
  • Remote sensing