Thursday, 19 April 2012

Contraction of Wetlands and Drying Up of Lakes

Wetlands, often referred to as earth’s kidney, has played a vital role in sustaining ecosystems that serves millions of lives. They act as an enormous sponge slowly releasing water into rivers all round year.

The fresh water wetlands on the Tibetan Plateau are distributed in an area of around 1,33,000 With their wealth of stored carbon, these wetlands provide a potential sink for theatmospheric carbon. It was also observed that the role of wetland as a carbon sink was closely related with the water table and the amount of precipitation.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Grassland Degradation and Removal of Tibetan Pastoralists (Drogpas)

Tibet’s rangeland with an average altitude of 4500 meters, covers approximately 70% of Tibet’s total area. The Alpine grassland at high altitude occupies over 60% of the total rangeland in Tibet. Pastoralism on the Tibetan Plateau is an adaptation to a cold environment at elevations above the limit of cultivation. Consequently, pastoral nomads of Tibet have maintained a unique pastoral culture for more than 8000 years. Tibet’s grasslands represent one of the last remaining agropastoral regions in the world. The pasturelands are made habitable through the co-existence of the Tibetan people and their yaks. According to recent archaeological fieldwork, the Tibetan Plateau has been used extensively by pastoral nomads, who developed deep understanding of grassland dynamics and veterinary knowledge for close to 9,000 years.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Degradation of Frozen Earth Layers and Release of Green House Gases on the Tibetan Plateau

The presence or absence of the permafrost layer necessitates major variations in the soil’s physical structure mainly its moisture and nutrient content. The permafrost covers approximately 1.3 to 1.6 million sq. km. These covers have thickness ranging from 1 to 130 m, depending on such local characteristics as slope and exposure, altitude, geological structure, soils, and soil water content.

The permafrost and ground ice in Tibet. Image copyright EDD (CTA)

The alpine permafrost on the Tibetan Plateau stores about 12,300 million tons of Carbon. Significant amount of methane gas are also trapped in the permafrost, preventing its release into the atmosphere. The alpine permafrost on the Plateau are characterized by warm permafrost and rich ground ice, as a result they are sensitive to climate change and are particularly vulnerable to rising temperature.