Review article: Inferring permafrost and permafrost thaw in the mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region

Other literature type, Article English OPEN
Gruber, Stephan ; Fleiner, Renate ; Guegan, Emilie ; Panday, Prajjwal ; Schmid, Marc-Olivier ; Stumm, Dorothea ; Wester, Philippus ; Zhang, Yinsheng ; Zhao, Lin (2017)

The cryosphere reacts sensitively to climate change, as evidenced by the widespread retreat of mountain glaciers. Subsurface ice contained in permafrost is similarly affected by climate change, causing persistent impacts on natural and human systems. In contrast to glaciers, permafrost is not observable spatially and therefore its presence and possible changes are frequently overlooked. Correspondingly, little is known about permafrost in the mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region, despite permafrost area exceeding that of glaciers in nearly all countries. Based on evidence and insight gained mostly in other permafrost areas globally, this review provides a synopsis on what is known or can be inferred about permafrost in the mountains of the HKH region. Given the extreme nature of the environment concerned, it is to be expected that the diversity of conditions and phenomena encountered in permafrost exceed what has previously been described and investigated. We further argue that climate change in concert with increasing development will bring about diverse permafrost-related impacts on vegetation, water quality, geohazards, and livelihoods. To better anticipate and mitigate these effects, a deepened understanding of high-elevation permafrost in subtropical latitudes as well as the pathways interconnecting environmental changes and human livelihoods are needed. © Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
  • References (179)
    179 references, page 1 of 18

    Allen, S. K., Fiddes, J., Linsbauer, A., Randhawa, S. S., Saklani, B., and Salzmann, N.: Permafrost studies in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, Curr. Sci., 111, 557-560, 2016.

    Arenson, L. U., Springman, S. M., and Sego, D. C.: The rheology of frozen soils, Appl. Rheol., 17, 1-14, 2007.

    Azócar, G. F. and Brenning, A.: Hydrological and geomorphological significance of rock glaciers in the dry Andes, Chile (27 - 33 S), Permafrost Periglac., 21, 42-53, doi:10.1002/ppp.669, 2010.

    Bajracharya, S. and Shrestha, B.: The status of glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2011.

    Bao, X. and Zhang, F.: Evaluation of NCEP-CFSR, NCEP-NCAR, ERA-Interim, and ERA-40 reanalysis datasets against independent sounding observations over the Tibetan Plateau, J. Clim., 26, 206-214, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00056.1, 2013.

    Barsch, D. and Jakob, M.: Mass transport by active rockglaciers in the Khumbu Himalaya, Geomorphology, 26, 215- 222, doi:10.1016/S0169-555X(98)00060-9, 1998.

    Benn, D. I. and Lehmkuhl, F.: Mass balance and equilibrium-line altitudes of glaciers in high-mountain environments, Quatern. Int., 65/66, 15-29, doi:10.1016/S1040-6182(99)00034-8, 2000.

    Benn, D. I. and Owen, L. A.: The role of the Indian summer monsoon and the mid-latitude westerlies in Himalayan glaciation: review and speculative discussion, J. Geol. Soc. London, 155, 353- 363, doi:10.1144/gsjgs.155.2.0353, 1998.

    Bense, V. F., Kooi, H., Ferguson, G., and Read, T.: Permafrost degradation as a control on hydrogeological regime shifts in a warming climate, J. Geophys. Res., 117, F03036, doi:10.1029/2011JF002143, 2012.

    Bhutiyani, M. R., Kale, V. S., and Pawar, N. J.: Long-term trends in maximum, minimum and mean annual air temperatures across the Northwestern Himalaya during the twentieth century, Clim. Change, 85, 159-177, doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9196-1, 2007.

  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark