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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

snow cover in bhutan decreases by 1.74%, melt is faster at lower altitude

Snow covered areas in the Himalayas including Bhutan have been shrinking over the past decade. A study, ‘Monitoring of Snow Cover in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya,’ by a team of specialist from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), revealed that snow covered areas in Bhutan decreased by an average of 1.74% over the past decade (2000-10).
Deo Raj Gurung, Remote Sensing Specialist, ICMOD, says that snow covered areas have been decreasing in Bhutan, prominently during spring and summer seasons.
“Depleting snow covered areas for central and eastern Hindu Kush Himalaya region is a concern to country like Bhutan dependent much on hydropower for revenue,” said Deo Raj Gurung.
The largest extend of snow covered areas in Bhutan over the past decade was in winter seasons with an average snow covered area of 14,485 square kilometers which is 37.7% of the total land area. It was followed by autumn season with 7788 (20.2%), spring 7788 (19.3%), and summer 4326 (11.2%).
Using the data, the team came up with a trend which shows that the average snow covered area in Bhutan decreased by 1.74%.
The snow accumulation starts as early as July and peaks in February. By March the melting commences and snow covered area is minimum in June. It has been found that the commencement of snow melt is delayed with altitude and contribution of snow over an altitude of 5,500 meters.
“After winter, the snow covered area starts to melt and it is time when the snow melt contributes to the rivers,” he said.
The team also carried out a study on the relationship between the altitude and snow distribution. It was found that higher the altitude more snow cover while the cover is less in lower altitudes.
Out of the twelve river basins of Bhutan that have been studied, on an average over the decade, Pho Chu basin had the maximum snow covered area where as Ha Chu basin had the least snow covered area.
However, the melting is faster at the lower elevations.
“There are various factors that contribute for the decrease in snowfall. One obvious example is climate change but we cannot be very conclusive only on the climate change,” said Deo RajGurung.

Monday, March 14, 2011

extreme rainfall caused by climate change

Bhutan’s annual rainfall increased from 644.4mm in 2000 to 1,120mm in 2010
When the paddy fields in Punakha saw no rain two years back, the villagers prayed to the deities to end the drought.
Heavy rains resulted.
But new study says that increasing heavy rainfall is due to climate change.
A study by a team of scientists from Canada and Scotland found that heavy precipitation is at least partly due to the growing concentration of man-made greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
The team used powerful computers to analyze the causes behind the rise in storms and heavy snowfall over the past half century in the world. It was found that the likelihood of extreme precipitation on any given day rose by 7% between 1951 and 1999—the years covered by the study.
In Bhutan, the annual rainfall increased from 644.4mm in 2000 to 1,120mm in 2010. Records with the Meteorology Section of the Hydro-met Service Division, Department of Energy in Thimphu showed that the average rainfall in a day in  Thimphu was 1.6m in 2000. Last year it was 3.17mm. This shows that rainfall has been increasing over the past decade even though there was some decrease in rainfall in some particular years.
“Even though Bhutan has been experiencing erratic rainfall, the average rainfall has been increasing every year,” said the head of the Meteorology Section, Kinzang Sonam.
The temperature has also increased over the past decade. Bhutan is experiencing an average of 2 degree celsius increase in temperature every year.
Kinzang Sonam also said that due to climate change, weather forecasting has also been an issue due to the unpredictable change in climate. “When we have already forecasted the weather for the next day the weather suddenly changes making our forecast wrong,” he said.
The head of the environment monitoring division, National Environment Commission, Thinley Namgyel, said it is predicted that there will be heavy rainfall in some places around the world while there will also be drought is other places.
“There are projections that some places will become drier and some places will receive more rain. This is due to climate change, but it will depend on different places around the world,” he said. Scientist have predicted long before that extreme weather events would occur as greenhouse gas concentration increases in the atmosphere.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

his majesty the fourth druk gyalpo included in the earth hall of fame kyoto

In 2005, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo was awarded the Champion of the Earth Award by UNEP, this year it is the Earth Hall of Fame Kyoto
His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo King Jigme Singye Wangchuck is among the three individuals inducted in the second Earth Hall of Fame Kyoto 2011, an award to honor in perpetuity the achievements of those who have contributed to conservation of the global environment. It is given in the name of Kyoto, the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol.
At the official ceremony which was attended by hundreds of people, including Their Imperial Highnesses Prince Akishino-miya and Princess Kiko-Sama and prominent citizens and intellectuals of Japan, Her Royal Highness Princess Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck received the award on behalf of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.
Her Royal Highness Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck read out the   acceptance message of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo where His Majesty the Fourt Druk Gyalpo said that he looked upon the Award as a recognition accorded to his people and country for their efforts to live and progress in harmony with the natural habitat.
His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo also said in his message that he dedicated the award to the people of Bhutan and all those who have been steadfast in their support and commitment to preserve the natural environment in Bhutan and the world.