Snow-Cover Mapping and Monitoring in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas
Snow is an important component of the cryosphere, and an integral part of the global climate system; snow cover both affects and is affected by patterns of climate and climate change. Observation and monitoring of components of the cryosphere are necessary for an understanding of the cryospheric and terrestrial climate system. Predictions about the future state of the environment, in particular the functioning of the climate system, cannot be attempted without thorough analysis of cryospheric processes.
The Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region contains the greatest expanse of snow and ice outside the polar regions. However, few scientific data are available on snow cover in the region, and the existing data tend to be site specific and short term. The anticipated change in precipitation patterns driven by climate change is likely to have a considerable impact on the more than 1.3 billion people dependent on the Himalayan cryosphere for freshwater. Thus it is increasingly important to develop an overview of snow cover and prepare a basis for assessing future trends.
This report documents the first results of an attempt to develop a comprehensive description of snow cover across the
whole HKH region. The study was carried out under the project ’Too Much, Too Little Water – Adaptation Strategies to Climate-Induced Water Stress and Hazards in the Greater Himalayan Region’, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).