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14 Aug 2020 | Cryosphere

Interdisciplinarity at altitude

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Consultative efforts and pilots across the Kangchenjunga Landscape have identified best practices for improved yield, and a shared vision for large cardamom marketing.

Interdisciplinarity at altitude

While the collective understanding of cryospheric change in the HKH has greatly improved in recent years, more interdisciplinary research is required to understand the differential impacts of these changes on society and to ensure that communities most impacted are included in policies and practices aimed to address the challenges. Based on the work we’ve been undertaking with high mountain communities in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and in Langtang, Nepal, we recognize that life and livelihoods on the edges of glaciers have their specific challenges and we wanted to ensure that the often deeply scientific cryosphere-related work on glaciers involves the people closest to and most dependent on cryosphere services.

To that end, our first-of-its-kind international forum – International Forum on Cryosphere and Society: The Voice of the HKH – provided an important platform for much needed discussions and for forging linkages between the physical and social sciences and with communities on cryosphere issues. Attended by 120 community leaders and leading regional and international cryosphere experts, the meet focused on: high mountain areas as shared heritage; unravelling cryospheric contributions including hydrology, air pollution, hydropower, irrigation, livelihoods, and culture; cryospheric hazards and their impacts; and highlighting community-based resilience and capacities, identifying the most pressing concerns and significant areas for future research, and ensuring community voice in decision-making and risk management.

Building on that momentum, we have also published three peer-reviewed journal articles highlighting cryosphere contributions to mountain communities, socio-economic consequences and adaptation issues to cryosphere change. Through our colleagues’ contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, this globally significant report highlights the linkages between cryosphere and society.

We continue to forge greater integration of social science into the physical cryosphere research activities in our own work, having undertaken a case study examining the cryosphere-livelihoods linkages in Langtang, Nepal which we plan to outscale to other countries to understand specificities related to individual countries while also exploring regional commonalities and potentials for greater cooperation to benefit mountain communities directly dependent on cryosphere services.

Scientific research even in the most remote high altitude cryosphere relates to human activity and must involve communities

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