We have probably all heard scaremongering stories about the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers. But the reality remains that in the Himalayas the atmosphere is warming at up to three times faster than at sea level. The higher you go the more the atmosphere is warming. Melting glaciers can store very large quantities of water whose outburst can cause catastrophic flooding. But even more important are the consequences of climate change for Nepal’s 15 million substance based mountain farmers.
Climate change is now bringing a high degree of variability to what had been relatively stable seasonal weather patterns. For example, in both 2009 and 2010, much of Nepal was affected by ten month droughts followed by an intense monsoon compressed from three months into two. If you haven’t been off Nepal’s tourist routes recently, it is difficult to imagine quite how rapidly the environment is changing. As to the future, conservative estimates project that temperatures will increase by nearly six degrees over the next eighty years, something unknown in man’s history.
Climate change is not well understood by the local communities who live by the discipline of the seasons and its effects are often seen in terms of divine retribution. The speed of change and the variability of seasonal patterns cause crop failure and widespread child malnutrition. To complicate matters, climate change has a range of different effects within this country’s diverse topography, which stretches from the subtropical foothills to pastures underlain by permafrost in the High Himal.
The Glacier Trust is committed to avoiding disaster on a Himalayan scale by helping local communities adapt to their changing environment. It provides education and expertise to locally based organisations, our Partners, to enable communities to understand the problems and implement solutions. More information is given under About us.
The Trust also wants to help to build the next generation of Nepali scientists who can understand these problems and design solutions. It therefore supports Higher Education by providing postgraduate fieldwork scholarships for Nepali students. Where possible these are enhanced by European postgraduates in an information exchange scheme.
The Glacier Trust is run by a group of expert unpaid trustees. It is entirely dependent on private donations and we hope you will support its work. We also hope you will be interested to explore the website to see the both the extent of the problem and how we are tackling it. The Trust also occasionally publishes comment and technical information under Articles and Comment.