HRD Himalayan Cryosphere Changes – Bath Spa University

Himalayan Cryosphere Changes and Local Adaptation Strategies: Towards a socio-hydrological framework for the Upper Indus Basin

Wednesday 8 December, 2021 – Wednesday 8 December, 2021
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2021-22.

Socio-hydrological interactions in the Himalayan region are diverse and complex and extend across different scales. Based on case studies from the Upper Indus Basin this presentation deals with socio-hydrological pathways against the background of (recurring) water related hazards and disasters. Socio-hydrological interactions range from meltwater-dependent irrigation systems on the local village scale to cryosphere-related hazards including Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), glacier detachments and landslides. Local communities who use meltwater from the cryosphere for irrigated agriculture are increasingly facing situations of water shortage due to glacier retreat and deficiency of seasonal snow cover. Examples of these adaptation strategies include implementation of water harvesting infrastructure such as ice reservoirs. Cryosphere-related hazards of different nature, frequency and magnitude pose recurrent problems ranging from damages of small irrigation canals and eroded fields to massive destruction of human habitat and loss of lifes in Himalayan riskscapes. The abode of snow – as the Himalaya is translated from Sanskrit – faces not only massive climatic and environmental changes but the region is also characterized by rapid urbanization and infrastructure development by large dams and roads. This socioeconomic development trajectory increases vulnerabilities of local communities towards water-related hazards. The presentation aims to develop a socio-hydrological framework for the Himalayan region that may be used as a basis for more sustainable development pathways.

About the speaker

Marcus Nüsser is a Professor of Geography at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University. His research focuses on socio-hydrology, human-environmental interactions, glacio-hydrology, political ecology and development research in high mountain regions with a regional specialization on the Himalaya and adjoining mountain ranges of High Asia. He has worked on various projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and was first supervisor for 16 successful PhD candidates between 2010 and 2021. He has been President of the Association for Comparative High Mountain Research (ARGE) since 2017 and serves on editorial boards of international journals including Mountain Research and Development, Journal of Mountain Science and Erdkunde.

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