The Changing Himalayas
over the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula (Bush allows for regular and repeated monitoring of snow
2000). The Himalayan region is also an important carbon cover, which can be carried out by countries such as
sink, particularly in terms of carbon storage in the soil of China and India, with results shared with those lacking
grasslands, wetlands, and forests. Wang et al. (2002) such technological infrastructure. Studies need to include
estimate that the organic carbon content of soils subtending both ground-based and satellite-based monitoring. Well-
grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau total 33,500x10
equipped stations and long-term monitoring, networking,
metric tonnes representing almost one quarter of China’s and cooperation within and outside the region are essential.
total organic soil carbon and 2.5% of the global pool Participatory methods of assessing and monitoring climate
of soil carbon. Climatic variables influence soil carbon and environmental change, local perceptions, and practices
stocks through their effects on vegetation and through their at the local level are also required. Local communities can
influence on the rate of decomposition of soil organic play a role in determining adaptation practices based
matter. In grassland ecosystems, net ecosystem productivity on local information and knowledge. School science
(that is, the amount of carbon sequestered) is very small programmes can be developed and introduced in local
compared to the size of fluxes, so there is great potential for communities.
changes affecting fluxes to change the net flow of carbon,
and for grasslands, therefore, to shift from being a CO
Application of regional climate models (RCMs): The
to a CO
Himalayas are not well represented in global models
source (Jones and Donnely 2004), contributing
further to global warming.
because of the coarse resolution of such models. Regional
climate models, with a higher resolution than global ones,
need to be constructed for ‘hotspots’ and run for shorter
Policy Recommendations periods (20 years or so). The results of RCMs have to be
downscaled and applied to impact assessments, particularly
Reducing Scientific Uncertainty
for watersheds or sub-catchments.
Develop scientific programmes for climate change
monitoring: Credible, up-to-date scientific knowledge
is essential for the development of a climate change
policy, including adaptation and mitigation measures. The
Beyond the Kyoto protocol: With rapid regional economic
current review finds a severe lack of field observations. It
growth, China and India, in particular, should accept
is essential to develop a scientific basis, in collaboration
equal, albeit differentiated, responsibility to developed
with government agencies and academia. Remote sensing
countries for controlling increasing carbon emissions.
Rangelands occupy more than 60% of the greater Himalayan region; if they are not well managed they can change from being CO
sources and thereby contribute further to global warming.