Challenges in understanding the variability of the cryosphere in the Himalaya and its impact on regional water resources
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The Himalaya plays a vital role in regulating the freshwater availability for nearly a billion people living in the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra River basins. Due to climate change and constantly evolving human-hydrosphere interactions, including land use/cover changes, groundwater extraction, reservoir or dam construction, water availability has undergone significant change, and is expected to change further in the future. Therefore, understanding the spatiotemporal evolution of the hydrological cycle over the Himalaya and its river basins has been one of the most critical exercises toward ensuring regional water security. However, due to the lack of extensive in-situ measurements, complex hydro-climatic environment, and limited collaborative efforts, large gaps in our understanding exist. Moreover, there are several significant issues with available studies, such as lack of consistent hydro-meteorological datasets, very few attempts at integrating different data types, limited spatiotemporal sampling of hydro-meteorological measurements, lack of open access to in-situ datasets, poorly accounted anthropogenic climate feedbacks, and limited understanding of the hydro-meteorological drivers over the region. These factors result in large uncertainties in our estimates of current and future water availability over the Himalaya, which constraints the development of sustainable water management strategies for its river catchments hampering our preparedness for the current and future changes in hydro-climate. To address these issues, a partnership development workshop entitled “Water sEcurity assessment in rIvers oriGinating from Himalaya (WEIGH),” was conducted between the 07th and 11th September 2020. Based on the intense discussions and deliberations among the participants, the most important and urgent research questions were identified. This white paper synthesizes the current understanding, highlights, and the most significant research gaps and research priorities for studying water availability in the Himalaya.
Vishwakarma , B D , Ramsankaran , RAAJ , Azam , M F , Bolch , T , Mandal , A , Srivastava , S , Kumar , P , Sahu , R , Navinkumar , P J , Tanniru , S R , Javed , A , Soheb , M , Dimri , A P , Yadav , M , Devaraju , B , Chinnasamy , P , Reddy , M J , Murugesan , G P , Arora , M , Jain , S K , Ojha , C S P , Harrison , S & Bamber , J 2022 , ' Challenges in understanding the variability of the cryosphere in the Himalaya and its impact on regional water resources ' , Frontiers in Water , vol. 4 , 909246 . https://doi.org/10.3389/frwa.2022.909246
Frontiers in Water
Copyright © 2022 Vishwakarma, Ramsankaran, Azam, Bolch, Mandal, Srivastava, Kumar, Sahu, Navinkumar, Tanniru, Javed, Soheb, Dimri, Yadav, Devaraju, Chinnasamy, Reddy, Murugesan, Arora, Jain, Ojha, Harrison and Bamber. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
DescriptionAuthors are grateful to UKIERI and DST for supporting us financially through UKIERI-DST Partnership Development Workshops. RR would like to thank the funding agency Ministry of Earth Science (MoES), Government of India for the project titled Estimating Mass balance of glaciers in the Bhaga Basin, Western Himalaya using GPR and Remote Sensing methods (Grant Ref. No: MoES/PAMC/H&C/107/2018-PC-II dated 27.07.2019).
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