Projects per year
Water sourced from Asian mountains is vital to the survival of an estimated 1.4 billion people, but by 2050 anticipated changes in snow and ice cover may threaten these supplies and, in turn, the food security of tens of millions of people. Despite the severity of this developing environmental hazard, the relative importance of glacier and snow-derived water needs more detailed study so that those communities who will experience the greatest shortages can be identified. Specifically, data showing how the contribution of meltwater varies with increasing distance downstream are lacking for many mountain catchments, as are robust hydrological models to simulate extreme scenarios of glacier loss as well as rainfall runoff events. Imprinted on regional-scale hydroclimatological controls of water availability are local-scale cultural beliefs and practices that have evolved over centuries, which determine who is able to access water supplies, for how long, and for what purpose. Building the resilience of human populations and the environment to future water shortages therefore depends on effective interdisciplinary team working to develop an understanding of the complex interactions between physical, socio-economic, cultural and historical factors. Developing simple and practical methods for water management, storage and societal adaptation that are appropriate to the socio-economic and political conditions of mountain-dwelling communities will only be sustainable if they are built on this integrated knowledge-base.
- Centre for Environmental Humanities
- Cabot Institute Natural Hazards and Disasters Research
- Cabot Institute Water Research
- South Asia