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Norwegian-Indian project to study the impact of climate change in Himalaya

The relevance can hardly be disputed. During the "Climategate" scandal, in autumn 2009, the scientific controversy over the mass balance of Himalayan glaciers was one of the first issues questioning the very quality of the IPCC report. Since then it has been a priority to strengthen our knowledge about how climate change influences the so-called Third Pole.

This was part of the backdrop when the RCN programme INDNOR held a side event during 12th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit on the 1st of February. The seminar was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, and his Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) also co-hosted the event. The Norwegian Minister for Environment and International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim, gave the keynote address.

Eystein Jansen Dr. Eystein Jansen A main purpose of the event in Dehli was to launch the project: Climate Change and its Impacts on Selected Indian Hydrological Systems using Earth System and High-Resolution Modelling (NORINDIA). It was presented by Dr. Eystein Jansen, Research Director at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.

India is prominently vulnerable to the ensuing climate changes and related impacts, according to the proposal. An increase in temperature and changes in the overall precipitation patterns have a profound impact on the water availability. This is especially the case for glacial melt or runoff generated in the Himalayan region.

A large number of the Indian population is dependent on these water resources. India receives annual precipitation of about 4000 km3 of which 3000 km3 is monsoon rainfall. The river systems in India are also depending on the monsoons to a larger extent. Thus the monsoon variability would have a large impact on access to water for the communities living there.

Solheim Minister Erik Solheim presenting his keynote. Dr. Rajendra Pajauri listening in. The advent of climate change and its impact on glacier melt may lead to abrupt floods in regions neighbouring the Himalayas. Climate models provide the stakeholders and impact researchers with approximations of plausible changes in climate. The quality of the impacts assessments depends on the quality of these climate change projections. The existing state-of-the-art general circulation models (GCMs) are yet to be fine-tuned to resolve the complexities of the Indian summer monsoon and other hydrological processes on regional scales.

The project will focus on the following aspects: a. Climate and hydrological modelling and scenarios; b. Climate change and feedback mechanisms in hydrological processes; c. Understanding impacts such as: snow, ice and glacier melt runoff; monsoon cycle changes; d. Impacts on water resources.


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