E-Bulletin (Jan-Apr 2013, Vol. 1, Issue 1)

Editorial

Cryosphere describes elements of the earth containing water in a natural frozen state. This can come in the form of glaciers, snow cover, lake and river ice, permafrost, and seasonally frozen ground. The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region is one of the most heavily glacierized areas in the world outside the polar regions. The vast accumulation of fresh water in the cryosphere of the Hindu Kush Himalayas is the source of ten of the largest rivers in Asia. Understanding the dynamics of the region’s cryosphere is vital for determining and predicting fresh water availability and water-induced hazard scenarios. Evidences suggest that the Himalayan region is particularly sensitive to climate change due to pronounced temperature rise in general and at higher altitudes in particular. As a result, the Himalayan region is witnessing rapid melting of glaciers, increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, and a shift in monsoon patterns, all of which are affecting water regimes in the region. Consequently, this has potentially severe impacts on water availability for agriculture, household supplies, industry, and hydropower. The region’s economy is dependent on agricultural productivity, which provides the main share of the region’s GDP. It is projected that the region will be one of the hardest hit in the world in terms of food production, threatening food security. 

Monitoring changes in glaciers and snow in the HKH, including the contribution of glacier and snow melt to runoff, has become crucial for water resource management in the ten large river basins of the HKH region. Thus, there is a growing interest in regional cryosphere monitoring research and activities, which calls for greater regional coordination, concerted efforts, and enhanced data sharing to improve understanding and knowledge on the HKH cryosphere. ICIMOD, being an intergovernmental, non-political organization with a regional mandate, aims to bring regional institutions conducting cryosphere-related research to a single platform, whereby a common approach and data sharing can be promoted in order to contribute to the understanding of water resources and their management in the region. 

In view of this, the Cryosphere e-bulletin has been developed with generous support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated through the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu in order to share and disseminate information via the Internet. The Cryosphere e-bulletin will contribute up-to-date knowledge and information on the cryosphere activities of ICIMOD and its partner institutions. More so, it is anticipated that the Cryosphere e-bulletin will foster improved knowledge and understanding of the HKH cryosphere and the impacts of climate change on water resources and hazards.

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Dr. Patrick Wagnon,  IRD researcher joined ICIMOD’s Cryosphere team as a visiting scientist for a 4-year period is carrying out field expiation to Changri Nup glacier and Mera Glacier from 3 to 26 April 2013.