Ladakh is an isolated arid environment in the Western Himalayas whose population relies mainly on glacial melt water. If the predicted adverse impacts of climate change occur, rising temperatures would accelerate the retreat of glaciers and place immense stress on the traditional Ladakhi agriculture and way of life. Very few studies in hydrology and glaciology currently document physical processes happening in Ladakh and only one project has combined climate data based upon measurements of temperature and precipitation, collected by the Indian Air Force in Leh town, and perceptions of local communities in order to explore the potential impacts of climate change in the area. This information constitutes the basis for climate change-related interventions of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international, and could help inform any future climate modeling. However, the quality of this data can be questioned on several points, it terms of accuracy, availability and, most importantly, usefulness. Moreover, this chapter discusses the relevance of this kind of data when the focus is placed upon the adaptation of local communities to global environmental changes where climate change may not be the primary cause. For instance, the region is also currently undergoing a rapid transition from subsistence farming to a market-based economy due to the integration of Ladakh into India and the growing influx of tourism. When addressing the broader context of environmental change, reliable, accurate, and available climate data and models could be useful only if used as part of a holistic approach. This approach requires research and interventions to combine scientific information with local knowledge and perceptions about the impacts of climate change to root the physical data in a “real world” context. It must also acknowledge other drivers of environmental changes such as unsustainable development.
Le Masson, V. and Nair, K. (2012), "Chapter 5 Does Climate Modeling Help when Studying Adaptation to Environmental Changes? The Case of Ladakh, India", Lamadrid, A. and Kelman, I. (Ed.) Climate Change Modeling For Local Adaptation In The Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region (Community, Environment and Disaster Risk Management, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 75-94. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2040-7262(2012)0000011011Download as .RIS
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