Global warming: the vegetation thriving on the slopes of the Himalayas

The vegetation is adventure more and more in the altitudes of the Himalaya, a phenomenon which could show the consequences of global warming, by reducing the access to the drinking water of nearly 1.4 billion people, according to the researchers.

The research done by the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, has focused on the area between the boundaries of the woodland, at 4150m and those snow-capped mountains, at 6000 meters to assess the amount of herbs succulents and shrubs that grow in it.

As these regions are difficult to access, the researchers turned to satellite images taken between 2013 and 2018 of the Hindu Kush, to the west of the massif in the himalayas, to discover that the vegetation cover, periglacial had increased significantly over the whole area and more particularly between 5000 and 5500 m altitude.

The causes have not been established in the study, but the warming climate is shown in the finger, due to the decline in proven “areas temperature limit”, which prevent vegetation to grow: between 2000 and 2016, the loss of snow has such as in the Himalayas, according to Karen Anderson, a professor at the Institute of sustainable and environmental and coauthor of the study.

“It is important to monitor and understand the loss of ice in the main mountainous systems, purpose ecosystems periglacial cover year area much larger than the permanent snow and ice and the link between the two are poorly known, especially in regard to their impact on the supply of water,” she said by way of press release.

The Hindu Kush, considered the “water tower of Asia”, is of paramount importance for this resource, as stis catchment area extends over eight countries, and allows the 1.4 billion people to draw water.

“The snow falls and melts here, seasonally, and we do not know what impact will the growth of the vegetation periglacial on this aspect of the water cycle”, since these plants will also have to drink, she added.

According to her, “has ground work, really detailed and a more in depth validation of these results is now needed to understand how plants in these areas in high altitude interact with the soil and the snow.

The article was published in the journal Global Change Biology.