Successful sustainable development and geohazard mitigation in the Himalaya requires an understanding of the nature and dynamics of Earth surface processes and landscape evolution. In recent years, geoscience studies of Himalayan environments have been increasing due to better accessibility, modern technologies and the understanding that there is a necessity to determine the nature and predict likely environmental changes that are occurring due to natural and human influences. The Himalaya is one of the most dynamically active tectonic and geomorphic regions on our planet, and it is the most glaciated mountain area outside of the polar realms. The high mountains and deep valleys are a consequence of the continued collision of the Indian and Eurasian continental plates, rapid uplift and intense denudation by glacial, fluvial, landsliding, aeolian and weathering processes. These processes change over time, influenced by topographic development, climate change and humans. Defining the rates and magnitudes of these processes and their interactions is fundamental in developing a framework to quantify, model and predict future changes for geohazard mitigation and sustainable development.
Figures & Tables
The Himalayan Cryosphere: Past and Present
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
The Himalaya mountains contain not only one of the largest concentrations of ice outside the polar regions, but contribute to the hydrological requirements of large populations spread over seven nations. The exceptionally high elevations of this low-latitude cryosphere presents a natural laboratory and archives to study climate–tectonics interactions as well as regional v. global climate influences. The existing base-level data on the Himalayan cryosphere are highly variable. Several climate fluctuations occurred during the late Quaternary (MIS1–MIS5, especially the last c. 100 ka), which led to the evolution of the Himalayan landscape. Detailed studies of these archives, along with those of the present cryosphere and related hydrosphere, are essential for understanding the controls on present and future hydrology of the glacial-fed mountain rivers.
This volume, a follow-up of the XII International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Science, Goa (A SCAR symposium), provides new data from locales spread over the entire Himalaya region and from Tibet. It provides a glimpse of the late Quaternary cryosphere, as well as a discussion in the last section on sustainability in the context of geohazard mitigations as well as the hydrological budget.