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Climate Change Observations of Indigenous Communities in the Indian Himalaya

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  • 1 G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment, Kosi-Katarmal, Uttarakhand, India
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Abstract

Mountains are important global sites for monitoring biological and socioecological responses to climate change, and the Himalaya has some of the world’s most rapid and visible signs of climate change. The increased frequency and severity of climate anomalies in the region are expected to significantly affect livelihoods of indigenous communities in the region. This study documents the perceptions of indigenous communities of climate change in the western Himalaya of India. The study highlights the power of knowledge and understanding available to indigenous people as they observe and respond to climate change impacts. We conducted a field-based study in 14 villages that represent diverse socioecological features along an altitudinal range of 1000–3800 m MSL in the western Himalaya. Among the sampled population, most of the respondents (>95%) agreed that climate is changing. However, people residing at low- and high-altitude villages differ significantly in their perception, with more people at high altitudes believing in an overall warming trend. Instrumental temperature and rainfall from nearby meteorological stations also supported the perception of local inhabitants. The climate change perceptions in the region were largely determined by sociodemographic variables such as age, gender, and income as well as altitude. A logistic regression, which exhibited significant association of sociodemographic characteristics with climate change perceptions, further supported these findings. The study concluded that the climate change observations of local communities can be usefully utilized to develop adaptation strategies and mitigation planning in the Himalayan region.

Current affiliation: Institut de Recherche sur les Foréts, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Amos, Quebec, Canada.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-20-0077.s1.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Vikram Negi, negi.vikram@gbpihed.nic.in, vikramsnegii@gmail.com

Abstract

Mountains are important global sites for monitoring biological and socioecological responses to climate change, and the Himalaya has some of the world’s most rapid and visible signs of climate change. The increased frequency and severity of climate anomalies in the region are expected to significantly affect livelihoods of indigenous communities in the region. This study documents the perceptions of indigenous communities of climate change in the western Himalaya of India. The study highlights the power of knowledge and understanding available to indigenous people as they observe and respond to climate change impacts. We conducted a field-based study in 14 villages that represent diverse socioecological features along an altitudinal range of 1000–3800 m MSL in the western Himalaya. Among the sampled population, most of the respondents (>95%) agreed that climate is changing. However, people residing at low- and high-altitude villages differ significantly in their perception, with more people at high altitudes believing in an overall warming trend. Instrumental temperature and rainfall from nearby meteorological stations also supported the perception of local inhabitants. The climate change perceptions in the region were largely determined by sociodemographic variables such as age, gender, and income as well as altitude. A logistic regression, which exhibited significant association of sociodemographic characteristics with climate change perceptions, further supported these findings. The study concluded that the climate change observations of local communities can be usefully utilized to develop adaptation strategies and mitigation planning in the Himalayan region.

Current affiliation: Institut de Recherche sur les Foréts, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Amos, Quebec, Canada.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-20-0077.s1.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Vikram Negi, negi.vikram@gbpihed.nic.in, vikramsnegii@gmail.com

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