Global warming induced climate change has triggered events such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.This in turn has lead to storms, droughts, flash floods, cloudbursts, change in vegetation. Growing body of scientific evidence has established that this phenomenon is directly linked to unprecedented amount of GHG gases released in the atmosphere largely due to burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of industrialization in last century. The situation is likely to worsenas countries with low industrialization including China and India began to pursue the same path of carbon based economic growth.
However, the impact of climate change is not distributed evenly across the world. Mountain eco-systems are more sensitive to the habitat and climate change due to the interaction of tectonic, geomorphic, ecological and climate agents. For instance, temperatures are rising more rapidly in the Himalayas than the global average. Over the last decade the average temperature in Nepal has risen 0.6 degrees, compared with an increase in average temperatures globally of 0.7 degrees over the last hundred years (Gravgaard, 2010). In another Himalayan region, Tibetan Plateau, temperatures have gone up over three times the global average (Schell, 2010). On an average, surface air temperatures in the Himalayan region have gone up to 1.0 degree in last decade (Srinivasan J, 2006). For this reason, Himalayas, in addition to continental ice masses, Alaska, Patagonia and the Karakoram have been identified as critical regions in the world.
Communities inhabiting mountain ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions such as high temperatures, altering rainfall patterns, receding glaciers and permafrost thawing, etc. Recent instances include the disastrous cloud bursts in near Leh in Ladakh andKapkot, Uttarakhand, the apple orchards shifting towards higher altitude seeking lesser temperatures and arrival of mosquitoes even at an altitude of 12700 ft in Tsomgo in Sikkim. This vulnerability further exacerbates due to high dependency on natural resources for livelihoods. Read More