International workshop ‘Himalayan Permafrost under the Changing Climate’ with field trip to Ladakh

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In many parts of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, people live near permafrost or in areas potentially affected by changes in permafrost. Permafrost is ground material (rock or soil) at or below 0 degrees C for two or more years. The surface layer thaws during the warm season and is called an ‘active layer’. Rock glaciers are also classified as permafrost features and there are many in the Himalayan region. Due to the tight coupling of atmosphere and subsurface temperature, widespread permafrost thaw during the coming decades can be expected in the HKH region. Permafrost thaw as a consequence of climate change will have societal, economical and biological impacts on the fragile ecosystems of the high mountain areas, as observed in other parts of the world. 

However, a low level of understanding and appreciation of the permafrost thaw related issues in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) is hampering the comprehensive understanding of the Himalayan cryosphere system response to climate change. A number of methodologies are in practice to study the permafrost regions. Field measurements are central in learning more about the permafrost changes and should be complemented by modelling approaches. Such studies conducted together with hydrologists, ecologists and social scientists will contribute to the understanding of the impacts of permafrost thaw in the IHR. 

The National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee, India in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD0, Kathmandu is organising an international workshop ‘Himalayan Permafrost under the Changing Climate” in New Delhi 12 August 2016. This workshop will sensitise stakeholders to the need to study the Himalayan Permafrost, its characteristics, and the livelihood and disaster linkages and implication under a warming climate. 

Cross-regional learning, collaborations, networking, knowledge and data sharing and capacity building are considered as important aspects for strengthening permafrost research activities in the HKH region. This workshop is intended to bring together various national and international stakeholders aimed at synergising the permafrost research in the Indian Himalayan Region that:

  • sensitise government, funding agencies, research institutions, universities and other stakeholders on various issues related to the permafrost thaw/ground ice melt in the Himalayas with an aim to promote permafrost research and knowledge generation in the IHR. 
  • explore the mechanism to foster research collaborations with national and international experts/institutions and develop a strategy for systematic monitoring of the Himalayan permafrost regions. 

The event is co-sponsored by NIH, ICIMOD, the Indian Himalayan Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP) and the Science Engineering Research Board (SERB).