Biophysical and socioeconomic drivers of the dynamics in snow hazard impacts across scales and over heterogeneous landscape in Northern Tibet

Abstract

Understanding the dynamics of snow hazard impacts on the Tibetan Plateau is significant and prerequisite for decision making in mitigating the negative impacts of snow hazards and facilitating social adaptation to climate variability and change. In this study, we adopted the framework of vulnerability analysis to analyze the drivers of the dynamics in snow hazard impacts indicated by livestock mortality rate in Northern Tibet. We selected Nagqu Prefecture, a remote pastoral area of Northern Tibet, as the case study area to analyze the drivers of the dynamics in snow hazard impacts between 1982 and 2010. We applied panel data models and geographically weighted regressions to diagnose the drivers of the dynamics in snow hazard impacts across two administrative scales and over heterogeneous landscape in Nagqu Prefecture. The results showed that the contributions of biophysical and socioeconomic factors to explaining the annual dynamics of livestock mortality rate varied between Nagqu Prefecture scale and Nagqu County scale. The modeling results using geographically weighted regressions showed that the statistical relationships between livestock mortality rate and various explanatory variables varied across geographic space due to spatial heterogeneity of local grassland social–ecological systems. Insights gained through this study help to improve our understanding of the drivers of snow hazard impacts across different administrative scales and over heterogeneous landscape in Northern Tibet. The findings of this study also have important implications for snow hazard management and building adaptive capacity for future climate change in the pastoral areas of Northern Tibet.

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Acknowledgments

This work was conducted with financial support from National Science Foundation of China (41401215), the State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute, China (SKLCS-OP-2014-10), and Laboratory for Climate Studies Open Funds for Young Scholars, China (2015).

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Correspondence to Yang Wang.

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Wang, J., Wang, Y. & Wang, S. Biophysical and socioeconomic drivers of the dynamics in snow hazard impacts across scales and over heterogeneous landscape in Northern Tibet. Nat Hazards 81, 1499–1514 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-015-2142-7

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Keywords

  • Snow hazard impacts
  • Drivers
  • Statistical modeling
  • Herder communities
  • Northern Tibet