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Nepal Semester Student's Catherine Von Holt's photograph of the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.

Regional Affects of Climate Change in Nepal

Nepal is a country separated into three geographical regions all with unique and diverse climate. Nepal as a country will be heavily affected by climate change due to its rapid effect on the Himalayas. Each region will experience a change in different ways all providing new problems for the country. Glacial melt in the mountain region will cause displacement of local tribes, and in the Terai, the change in the Monsoons will make crop planting unpredictable and due to these problems the valley will see a spike in increased urbanization in the country.

The mountains of Nepal are experiencing some of the worst effects of climate change. Glaciers are currently receding by 30m per year creating new mountain lakes in the glaciers absence. If this trend continues about 1/3 of the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by the end of the century. The amount of water that would come from that amount of glacial melt will be more than enough to disturb local communities that live downhill from the glaciers. People will be forced to abandon their homeland and relocate or risk being swept away by a flash flood or living in destitute lands. The people living in this region are considered at risk because of their already poor economic standing with the majority of Himalayan inhabitants making less than $1.90 a day. Climate change in the Himalayas will cause mass displacement of the locals and also jeopardize a large portion of the worlds drinking water. Terai is another region that will experience a great change due to climate change.

The main climate identity of the Terai is the Monsoon which is the reason for the Terai’s productive farmland. Without predictable rains, farmers would have a much harder time planning when to plant their crops. Unfortunately, as climate change has progressed the Monsoon season has become increasingly unpredictable and more severe with no signs of returning to the normal cycle. The Monsoon season is expected to last longer but the rain frequency of the Monsoon will decrease, this allows the buildup of bigger storm systems so when it does rain it will be more violent. The unpredictable nature of the new Monsoon will make it harder for farmers to conserve water as they will experience extremely wet times juxtaposed with long spurts of drought. As well as the rain being affected the flow of rivers will greatly change. With the increased glacial melt from the Himalayas and sporadic severe storms, the chance of flash floods is greatly increased. These floods have the potential to destroy farmland and other property, which can cause further displacement of people. The Katmandu Valley area of Nepal will experience the least amount of direct interference from climate change, but it will have to prepare itself for mass urbanization due to climate change displacement.

Katmandu Valley is already one of the most densely populated areas in the world, Katmandu city itself has a population density of 20,288 people per square kilometer. Due to this, the main climate problem the valley will experience will be the number of people fleeing to Katmandu after their lively hood is destroyed by climate-induced disasters. Nepal has already seen a mass movement of its citizens into the Katmandu Valley in the past generation. The combination of continued urban movement and an impressive population growth rate of 3.94% will put the population limits of the Katmandu valley to the ultimate test. Municipalities will have to be very proactive with their city planning to be able to effectively contain the population explosion on the horizon.

The problems brought on by climate change will put Nepal’s government and resolve to the test. The country will have to tackle population displacement due to flooding and destruction of livelihoods. Rural farmers will have little choice but to turn to the cities for new means of employment, which will further strain the already overflowing urban areas. This urbanization could cause food shortages and possibly ethnic conflict or discrimination during the chaos.

 

Work Citied

  1. Karki, M., P. Mool, and A. Shrestha. “Climate Change and Its Increasing Impacts in

Nepal”. The Initiation, Vol. 3, 1, pp. 30-37, doi:10.3126/init.v3i0.2425.

  1. Kathmandu Population. (2018-11-21). Retrieved 2019-03-08, from

http://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/kathmandu/

  1. Quackenbush, Casey. “Report: One-Third of Himalayan Glaciers Could Melt by 2100.” Time, Time, 5 Feb. 2019, time.com/5521000/climate-change-himalayan-glaciers-melt-2100/.
  2. “The Himalayan Climate and Water Atlas: Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources in Five of Asia’s Major River Basins.” ICIMOD THREE DECADES FOR MOUNTAINS AND PEOPLE, 11 Dec. 2015, www.icimod.org/?q=20533.

 

6 March 2019