Implications of Changing Climatic Pattern on the Geopolitical Situation of North Western Himalaya, India
Indian Himalayan region has warmed significantly in last few decades. Winter precipitation has become more variable with increase in liquid precipitation except in Karakoram Himalaya. There has been significant increase in winter seasonal precipitation in last three decades in Lower Himalayan regions whereas Higher Himalaya has shown decrease. The snow cover area has decreased everywhere in Indian Himalaya except in Karakoram where it has increased marginally. The increase in liquid precipitation in place of snow, may prove disastrous in some regions where regolith is loose and dry. The rapid erosion from mountain slopes would give rise to many other hazards downstream. Extreme winter precipitation events may produce extensive avalanches, which may travel kilometers to cause extensive damage in hitherto safe areas. All these changes coupled with the increase in number of extreme precipitation events in past few decades have brought in a new climatic shift, which may have far reaching consequences on geopolitical situation in Indian Himalayan region in near future.
With all these changes the accessibility to the remote regions may ease, which may help in efficient management of border regions. However, what would be the consequence of such a situation when extended in future, though modeled by climate scientists, has yet to be evaluated geopolitically. While some efforts on modelling have been attempted, the scientific validation from ground has yet not been done properly. Remote sensing data has helped to some extent, yet there is a need to augment and evaluate it with ground data.
There is a need to prepare for worst case scenarios, given the current geopolitical situations that are already showing signs of bursting at seams. Predicting and diffusing extreme weather events will continue to be the future research area in Himalaya. Simultaneously, every drop of precious snow and glacier melt water has to be counted for by construction of many small reservoirs in Himalaya for the purpose of harvesting snow melt and rain water with a strong regulation on its consumption and usage. A comprehensive plan on monitoring cryospheric region of Himalaya with dense network of automatic observatories and with dedicated crysopheric satellite observation system is the need of hour. UAVs, with better sensors maybe put to use at many places for collection of data from remote regions of Himalaya. A geopolitical assessment of current situation and modeled situation with projection of different scenarios is required to be taken up earnestly.
KeywordsCryosphere Paleoclimate Climate Change Geopolitics
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