Atmosphere Initiative

The Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) is among the most vulnerable regions in the world to impacts of changing atmospheric composition and climate. With increasing emissions of air pollutants from urban, industrial, and rural sources within and upwind of the HKH, the region is facing a rapidly growing air pollution problem. It affects the health of people and ecosystems, as well as agricultural productivity. Melting of glaciers and snowfields is accelerated. Atmospheric circulation patterns and cloud microphysics are changing, affecting monsoon rainfall patterns. Thick haze and increased winter fog over the plains south of the mountains reduce visibility and ground-level sunlight, affecting aviation, mountain tourism, agriculture, and the livelihoods of the poorest.

While the role played by long-lived greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in changing the earth’s present and future climate has been under attention for quite some time, the impacts of black carbon (BC) and other short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) have only recently received attention. The Atmosphere Initiative at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) was established in 2013 as part of the centre’s Regional Programme on Cryosphere and Atmosphere. The initiative aims to promote the adoption of effective measures and policies to reduce air pollution and its impacts within the HKH through improved knowledge and enhanced capacity of our regional partners. Its work includes improving scientific understanding of emissions sources, atmospheric processes and change, and air pollution impacts in the HKH, as well as identifying, testing, and piloting mitigation solutions; capacity building and outreach; fostering regional collaboration and cross-border network building, and contributing to policy at local, national, regional, global levels.