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Climate change and associated glacier recession have led to the formation of new glacial lakes and the expansion of existing ones across the Himalayas. Many pose a potential glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) threat to downstream communities and infrastructure. In this paper, 4418 glacial lakes in the Indian Himalayan Region and 636 transboundary lakes are analyzed. We consider hazard, exposure, and integrated danger levels using robust geographic information system-based automated approaches. The hazard level of lakes was estimated based on the potential for avalanches to strike the lake, size of the lake and its upstream watershed, and distal slope of its dam. Exposure levels were calculated by intersecting cropland, roads, hydropower projects, and the human population with potential GLOF trajectories. Then, GLOF danger was determined as a function of hazard and exposure. The study demonstrates that Jammu and Kashmir (JK) is potentially the most threatened region in terms of total number of very high and high danger lakes (n = 556), followed by Arunachal Pradesh (AP) (n = 388) and Sikkim (SK) (n = 219). Sectorwise, JK faces the greatest GLOF threat to roads and population, whereas the threat to cropland and hydropower is greatest in AP and SK, respectively. Transboundary lakes primarily threaten AP and, to a lesser extent, Himachal Pradesh (HP). For Uttarakhand (UK), the impacts of potential future glacial lakes, expected to form during rapid ongoing glacier recession because of climate change, are explored. Finally, a comparison of current results with previous studies suggests that 13 lakes in SK, 5 in HP, 4 in JK, 2 in UK, and 1 in AP are of highest priority for local investigation and potential risk reduction measures. Current results are of vital importance to policymakers, disaster management authorities, and the scientific community.
The mountainous state of Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalayas is experiencing population growth and undergoing a process of rapid urbanization. This is causing concern, because the Uttarakhand Himalayas are exposed to multiple natural hazards and are vulnerable to climate change extremes. Mountain municipalities in Uttarakhand are typically small and lack the human and financial resources to address risk in the rapidly emerging built form. This article takes stock of the current risk knowledge among formal and informal actors involved in the urban development process. It does this through document analysis, 150 household surveys, and 24 key informant interviews in the small but rapidly urbanizing town of Almora. Results indicate that formal knowledge, encoded in building bylaws and land use plans, do not sufficiently address risk and are not adopted by households. In practice, households rely largely on informal building professionals in determining their developmental decisions. However, informal building professionals lack the training and skills to address risk in the built form. This article makes a case for acknowledging informal building professionals and practices and provides recommendations for consolidating them in the developmental process through training and education.
Land use change in tropical places with variable topography followed an elevation-sensitive pattern during the last 3 decades of the 20th century. Deforestation, driven by farmers, was concentrated in accessible, lowland settings, while sustainability initiatives, promoted by natural scientists, occurred in remote, upland settings. This lowland deforestation–upland sustainability pattern persists, but the drivers of sustainability initiatives have recently changed with the emergence of organizations of rain-forest–dwelling indigenous peoples that promote upland sustainability. This article describes and, by means of a case study, explains this shift in sustainability dynamics. Indigenous groups have gained more control over the lands they inhabit, and their populations have increased. With these changes, indigenous peoples' organizations have assumed pivotal roles in upland sustainability initiatives. The history of indigenous control over sustainability efforts where the Andes meet the Amazon in southeastern Ecuador, an area inhabited by the Shuar, illustrates this pattern of change.
European mountain regions have already been impacted by climate change, and this is projected to increase in the future. These mountain regions experience rapid changes, which influence social-ecological systems in the lower-mountain and floodplain regions of Europe. There is scattered evidence across different strands of academic literature on the ways in which the impacts of changing climate in mountain regions are addressed and adaptive capacity is enhanced. Using a systematic mapping review, we mapped English-language scientific journal articles that analyzed the climate change adaptation options that are planned or implemented in European mountain regions. Our understanding of how academic literature has investigated climate change adaptation is critical to identifying key knowledge gaps and research foci. Following the Reporting Standards for Systematic Evidence Syntheses in environmental research protocol, 72 scientific articles published between January 2011 and August 2019 were identified from a total of 702 scientific articles. Our findings show that existing academic literature has a strong focus on the western and southern European mountains: the European Alps (n = 24), Pyrenees (n = 11), and Sierra Nevada (n = 4). Key climate impacts reported for the biophysical systems include reduction in forest carbon, soil erosion, changes in vegetation patterns, and changes in plant population and tree heights; in human systems, these include water availability, agricultural production, changes in viticulture, and impacts on tourism. Key adaptation options reported in this article are wetland conservation options, changing cropping and cultivation cycles, tree species management strategies, and snow-making technology. We found very few articles analyzing governance responses to planning and implementing adaptation; these had a strong bias toward techno-managerial responses. We conclude that, while climate impacts are substantial in European mountain regions, there are knowledge gaps in academic literature that need to be addressed.
Science-based decision-making—even if not favored by all political forces—is a must in finding sustainable solutions in today's complex world. But how can this process be made more effective? We at the Forum Landscape, Alps, Parks (FoLAP) believe that science-based decision-making is successful only if it is embedded in a well-mediated dialogue between science and practice. In addition, when land use decisions are at stake, “landscape” seems to be the relevant spatial dimension to engage people in a dialogue about their living environment and to achieve sustainable land use solutions.