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Cryosphere Forum 2021: Status of research on changing permafrost and associated impacts in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Venue

MS Teams

Date & Time

20 September 2021 to 23 September 2021

Contact

Miriam Jackson, Jakob Steiner & Prashant Baral

Session notes Agenda

 

Cryosphere Forum 2021

 

In the context of sparse permafrost studies in the Hindu Kush Himalaya and significant gaps in our understanding of distribution, thermal state, organic content, and mass dynamics, we are collaborating with Tribhuvan University (TU) to organise this forum on permafrost. As a follow up response to recommendations made during the session on permafrost degradation and GHG emissions during International forum on cryosphere and society: The voice of the Hindu Kush Himalaya, the forum will bring together regional and global experts to exchange knowledge on the region’s permafrost and explore avenues for research collaboration.  The forum will also raise awareness among policymakers on the implications of a changing permafrost for livelihoods, hydrological flows, infrastructure, and ecosystems.

 

Objectives

  • Share existing knowledge related to permafrost in the HKH and learn about permafrost related issues in other regions
  • Discuss approaches and methods for permafrost monitoring and disseminate such information to the scientific community in the HKH and among the Regional Member Countries (RMCs)
  • Build capacities of young researchers in the field
  • Establish a network with other interested institutions to collaborate on future permafrost monitoring and analysis
  • Develop efficient communication between knowledge producers and stakeholders to identify needs and directly respond to identified gaps in permafrost research

 

Expected outputs and outcomes

  • A brief synthesis report based on the discussions and presentations on the status of permafrost research in the HKH, knowledge gaps, and further investments necessary
  • Potential collaborations between participants on future research projects
  • Develop the basis for a permafrost working group in the region that can address pressing issues and act as a platform for exchange. This will include both experts on permafrost as well as policy makers and other decision makers from the region.

 

Target audience

The target audience is the cryosphere research community in the region, including those potentially planning to work on permafrost, as well as the global permafrost research community who can provide insights and/or may have interest in permafrost in the region. Through the workshop, we hope to address research methods, gaps in research, and identify future paths for research.

 

Call for abstracts

The organisers of the forum invite permafrost researchers to submit abstracts or posters for presentation on any of these topics:

  • Remote sensing, rock glaciers, and hazards
  • Field investigations of permafrost
  • Modelling permafrost
  • Climate change and permafrost: Impact on livelihoods and infrastructure
  • Ecosystems and permafrost
  • Hydrological regime and permafrost

Early career researchers (ECRs) are especially encouraged to apply. The best presentation from the ECRs (maximum 8 years after a PhD) will receive an award. Abstracts which are not selected for a talk will be assigned a poster session, which will be showcased in separate virtual rooms where presenters can interact with the participants.

 

Submission guidelines

  • Abstracts must be submitted by 5:00 PM NPT (UTC+5:45), 9 September 2021.
  • Abstracts submitted by email will not be accepted
  • The Scientific Committee will review all submitted abstracts
  • Acceptance will be based on content, available space, and overall programme balance. The committee may recommend that selected abstracts submitted as oral presentations be presented as posters or vice versa.
  • Authors need to ensure that they submit their own work and provide complete and accurate contact and affiliation information for all co-authors
  • Authors may submit abstracts related to research or work carried out in the Hindu Kush Himalaya
  • Abstracts must be prepared and submitted in English. The organizers reserve the right to reject abstracts which are presented in poor English or may request an immediate revision by the submitter.
  • Selected authors will be notified by 5:00 PM (UTC+5:45), 13 September 2021
  • A limited number of selected authors will be considered for financial support
  • All care will be taken to ensure gender balance and selection of researchers from the HKH region to the extent possible. Considering that not all speakers may be available, some names have been retained as a fall-back option.

 

Session notes:

Remote sensing, rock glaciers, and hazards

Permafrost distribution can be studied using various remote sensing methods. One key indicator of mountain permafrost that can be delineated using remote sensing methods is rock glaciers. Despite the use of remote sensing methods in understanding permafrost occurrence and permafrost hazards, their use in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region is sparse due to limited research capacity in this field. Some initial studies exist in the region to determine the regional distribution of permafrost. This session aims to understand the state-of-the-art of remote sensing methods in monitoring rock glaciers and permafrost hazards and their status in the HKH region.

Field investigations of permafrost

Field-based investigations are crucial for monitoring changes in permafrost and frozen ground and to validate results from remote sensing observations and model simulations. Inadequate field-based monitoring and discontinuous observations limit the interpretation of permafrost dynamics and the effects on ecology, hydrology, and geomorphology in the HKH region. This session will explore field-based permafrost investigations in the HKH region and highlight the need and areas for future field research.

Modelling permafrost

Permafrost models are reasonably accurate in simulating permafrost variability in complex high mountain environments. However, their application in understanding permafrost in the mountains of the HKH is limited. This session focuses on different permafrost modelling approaches that can be used to understand permafrost distribution in local environments and at a regional scale. The session will also highlight the applicability of permafrost models and their necessity for understanding permafrost variability in the region.

Climate change and permafrost: Impact on livelihoods and infrastructure

A warming climate is responsible for the increase in thawing depth of the active layer, a gradual upward shift in the lower limits of mountain permafrost, and a reduction in the stability of mountain slopes. As a result, human settlements and infrastructure in degrading permafrost environments are at increased risk. In the HKH region, thawing permafrost may reduce the stability of steep mountain slopes and natural moraine dams, which could cause mass wasting and glacial lake outburst floods. This session will address the implications of changes in the mountain permafrost environment and their effects on the livelihoods of mountain communities and infrastructure in the HKH region. The session will also discuss potential adaptation actions in response to the climate change-induced changes in permafrost.

Ecosystems and permafrost

Degrading permafrost can affect ecosystem services by causing variations in the habitat and diversity of plant species, releasing gases into the atmosphere, and reducing soil moisture, soil nutrients, and organic matter content. In the HKH region, these factors could lead to the reduction or even loss of indigenous flora and fauna. Scientific studies on the effects of permafrost change on ecosystem services in the region are limited. This session will help generate a basic understanding of the impacts of permafrost changes on ecosystem services of the HKH region and will identify necessary actions for future research.

Hydrological regime and permafrost

Permafrost-associated changes in mountain areas can modify mountain river discharge, release solutes and sediments in rivers, change groundwater levels, and increase the number of thermokarst lakes, therefore, affecting the hydrological regime. These factors will not only affect local high mountain communities but can impact the lives of millions downstream. This session will provide an overview of the status of permafrost studies associated with the hydrological regime in the HKH region and will identify crucial areas for future research.

 

Agenda

Day 1 – Monday, 20 September 2021)

Host: Miriam Jackson, River basin and Cryosphere, ICIMOD

Time (in NPT) Programme
09:30-09:40 Registration: Play cryosphere video in loop
09:40-09:45 Welcome participants, explain forum guidelines
09:45-10:00 Welcome remarks

Pema Gyamtsho, Director General, ICIMOD

Rapporteurs: Chimi Seldon, Knowledge Management and Communications, ICIMOD

10:00-10:15 Opening remarks

Dharma Kant Baskota, Vice Chancellor, TU

Rapporteur: Chimi Seldon, Knowledge Management and Communications, ICIMOD

Session 1: Field investigations of permafrost. Moderator: TBD.

Rapporteurs: Arnab Singh, Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, and Darwin Rana, Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, TU

10:15-10:40 Permafrost in the cold-arid Himalaya

Speaker: John Wani, School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

10:40-11:00 Establishing a Long-Term Periglacial Slope Monitoring Network: A Pilot Project in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Kaytan Kelkar, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

11:00-11:10 Short break
11:10-11:30 Rock glaciers in the Bhutan Himalayas 

Kotaro Fukui, Tatecal Museum, Japan

11:30-11:50 Field measurements in mountain permafrost for long-term climate-related observations

Jeannette Noetzli, WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Swiss Permafrost Monitoring Network, PERMOS

11:50-12:50 Lunch
12:50 -13:30 Workshop on Cryogrid

Juditha Schmidt, Doctoral Research Fellow, Section of Physical geography and Hydrology, University of Oslo

13:30 – 13:40 Short break
13:40 – 14:20 Cryogrid

Juditha Schmidt, Doctoral Research Fellow, Section of Physical geography and Hydrology, University of Oslo

14:20 -14:40 Short break
14:40 – 15:40 Discussion on field investigations of permafrost

Moderator: TBD

Rapporteur: Tika Gurung, Water and Air, ICIMOD

Day 2 – Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Time (in NPT) Programme
Hydrological regime and permafrost. Moderator: Rijan Bhakta Kayastha, Kathmandu University, Nepal

Rapporteurs: Reeju Shrestha, Geospatial Solutions, and Prashant Baral, Cryosphere Initiative, ICIMOD

09:30-09:55 Empirical attribution of a drying Himalayan River through remote sensing and secondary data

Gopal Penny, University of Notre Dame, United States

09:55-10:10 Potential of Geophysical Methods for Permafrost Monitoring: Current Status and way Forward

Younis Khan, National Centre of Excellence in Geology, University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

10:10-10:30 Short break
1030-1130 Discussion on Hydrological regime and permafrost

Moderator: Rijan Bhakta Kayastha, Kathmandu University, Nepal

Rapporteur: Amrit Thapa, Geospatial Solutions, ICIMOD

11:30-13:20 Lunch
   Session 2: Hydrological regime and permafrost. Moderator: TBC

Rapporteur: Reeju Shrestha, Geospatial Solutions, and Prashant Baral, Cryosphere Initiative, ICIMOD

13:25-13:45 Recent permafrost and ground thermal changes of a Tibetan catchment and implications for lake level changes

Leo Martin, Utrecht University, University of Oslo

13:45-14:00 Glacier, rock glacier and permafrost interactions on the eastern Hindu Kush, Afghanistan

W. Brian Whalley, University of Sheffield

14:00 – 14:15 Mapping aufeis in the Upper Indus Basin with time-series analysis

Dagmar Brombierstäudl, Heidelberg University, Germany

14:15 -14:35 Assessing permafrost distribution and ground ice volumes in Central

Asia (Kyrgyzstan): results from a first geophysical field campaign

Tamara Mathys, University of Fribourg

14:35 – 15:00 Short break
Session 3: Remote sensing, rock glaciers, and hazards

Moderator: TBD

Rapporteur: Amrit Thapa, Geospatial Solutions, ICIMOD, Darwin Rana, Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, TU

15:00-15:25 Viscous flow features (rock glaciers) in mountain permafrost

Wilfried Haeberli, Geography Department, University of Zurich, Switzerland

15:25-15:40 An Intercomparative Study of Geomorphic- and Kinematic-based Active Rock Glacier Inventory in Daxue Shan, Southeast Tibet Plateau

Cai Jiaxin, Southwest Jiaotong University, China

15:40-15:50 Short break
15:50-16:10 Status of CCI Permafrost – latest ground temperature time series for the Northern Hemisphere and progress in rock glacier monitoring

Annett Bartsch, b.geos GmbH, Austria

16:10-16:30 Rock glacier monitoring in the Austrian Alps: Past, present, and future

Speaker: Lea Hartl, Austrian Academy of Sciences

16:30-16:45 Modelling rock glacier velocity and ice content, Khumbu and Lhotse Valleys, Nepal

Speaker: Yan Hu, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

16:45-17:25 Discussion on Remote sensing, rock glaciers, and hazards  

Rapporteur: Sonika Adhikari, Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, TU

Day 3 – Wednesday, 22 September 2021
Time (in NPT) Programme
Session 4: Climate change and permafrost: Impact on livelihoods and infrastructure

Moderator: Madan Lall Shrestha, NAST

Rapporteur: Sonika Adhikari and Arnab Singh, Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, TU

09:30-09:55 The economic impact of climate warming on the Qinghai-Tibet Expressway and its mitigation by Thermosyphons

Zhi Wen, CAS, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, China

09:55-10:10 Compilation of Measured Soil Freezing Characteristic Curves for Permafrost Thaw Modelling

Élise Devoie, McGill University, Canada.

10:10-10:25 A First-Order Estimate of Permafrost Extent in High Mountain Asia Using Snow Depth Corrected Terra & Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature Products

Kyung “Robin” Kim, University of Virginia, USA

10:25 -10:40 Initial insights into stability of a critically stressed fracture in warming permafrost settings

Ying Li, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

10:40-11:00 Short break
11:00-11:20 Topic: yet to confirm

Shresth Tayal, TERI University, India

11:20-11:35 Characterizing spatio-temporal patterns of ground subsidence as an indicator of permafrost thaw in Tso Kar valley, Ladakh using SAR remote sensing

Tara Tripura Mantha, University of Hyderabad, India

11:35-11:50 A three-dimensional model for the simulation of alpine mass movements and process cascades

Alessandro Cicoira, Snow and Avalanche Simulation Laboratory (SLAB), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland

11:50-12:30 Discussion on climate change and permafrost: Impact on livelihoods and infrastructure

Rapporteur: Reeju Shrestha, Geospatial Solutions, ICIMOD

12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-14:40 Workshop Session Introduction: TopoSCALE

Kristoffer Aalstad, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo

14:40-14:50 Short break                       
Session 5: Modelling permafrost

Moderator: TBC

Rapporteur: Amrit Thapa, Geospatial Solutions, and Tika Gurung, Water and Air, ICIMOD

14:50 -15:15 Topic: To be confirmed

Stephan Gruber, Carleton University, Canada

15:15-15:35 Topic: To be confirmed

Marco Marcer, Technical University of Denmark

15:35-15:45 Short break
15:45-16:00 Rock glacier inventory, permafrost probability distribution modeling and associated hazards in the Hunza River Basin, Western Karakoram, Pakistan

Javed Hassan, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences

16:00-16:15 Permafrost distribution modelling in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region using machine learning   

Prashant Baral, NIIT University India, ICIMOD

16:15-16:35 Assessing and projecting surface air temperature conditions required to sustain permafrost in Japan

Tokuta Yokohata, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan

16:35-17:10 Discussion on Modelling permafrost

Rapporteur: Abhijit Vaidya, Water and Air, ICIMOD

Day 4 – Thursday, 23 September 2021
Time (in NPT) Programme
Session 6: Ecosystems and permafrost

Moderator: TBC

Rapporteur: Chimi Seldon, Knowledge Management and Communications, ICIMOD, Darwin Rana, Central Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, TU

09:30-09:55 Permafrost thawing expands erodible landscapes and increases fluvial water and sediment fluxes in the Tibetan Plateau

Speaker: Dongfeng Li, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore

09:55-10:15 The effects of freeze-thaw cycles on methane emissions from peat soil of the Zoige Plateau (Open talk)

Zhu Dan, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

10:15-10:30 Millennial-aged carbon export from permafrost catchments of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Chunlin Song, Sichuan University, China

10:30-10:50 Topic: Yet to be confirmed

Raju Chauhan, Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

10:50-11:00 Short break
11:00-11:15 Preliminary results of permafrost distribution in the Upper Indus Basin

Sher Muhammad, ICIMOD

11:15-11:30 Permafrost Distribution Mapping using Machine-Learning approaches in Solukhumbu, Nepal

Arnab Singh, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

11:30-11:45 A Hypothetical Permafrost estimation model in Hindu Kush Himalayas

A P Dimri, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

11:45-12:30 Discussion on Ecosystems and permafrost

Rapporteur: Chimi Seldon, Knowledge Management and Communications, ICIMOD

12:30-13:20 Lunch
Discussions on future research collaborations & similar topics)

 Moderator: TBC

13:20-14:10 Discussions on knowledge gaps and future research

 Rapporteur: Chimi Seldon, Knowledge Management and Communications, ICIMOD

14:10-14:50 Session for Early Career Researchers

Rapporteur: Prashant Baral, Cryosphere Initiative, ICIMOD

14:55-15:15 Short break
Plenary session

Moderator: TBC

Rapporteur: Abhijit Vaidya, Water and Air, ICIMOD

15:00-16:15 Plenary session – feedback from discussions
16:15-16:45 Summary of the Cryosphere forum 2021:

 Arun Shrestha, River basin and Cryosphere, ICIMOD

16:45 -17:00 Closing remarks

Izabella Koziell, Deputy Director General, ICIMOD