Saturday, May 3, 2014

Study tour on long term monitoring of climate change impacts on Sikkim Himalayas

GANGTOK, 02 May: A team of scientists from Sikkim State Council of Science and Technology (SSCS&T), Space Applications Centre (ISRO), Ahmedabad and CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow conducted a study tour to Gnathang, East Sikkim and Thangu, North Sikkim from 20-29 April.
A press release informs that the study tour, a first of its kind project titled "Study of Alpine Ecosystem Dynamics & Impact of Climate Change on Sikkim Himalaya- HIMADRI" aims to identify a suitable site for long term monitoring of climate induced impacts on alpine and tree line habitats.
The scientific team consisted of Dr. C. P. Singh [Project Head cum Scientist/ Eng from Space Applications Centre (ISRO)] along with Research Fellow, C. Prabhakaran [Scientists from CSIR- National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow], Dr. Baleswar, Dr. K.K. Rawat and Dr. Rajesh Bajpai and host scientists from State Council of Science and Technology, Sikkim, N. P. Sharma and R. K. Sharma.
The release informs that the current programme is based on the study manual produced by Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA), Europe, for long term monitoring of alpine ecosystem dynamics and same has been prepared by Space Applications Centre (ISRO), Ahmedabad to start GLORIA programme in the name of Himalayan Alpine Dynamics Research Initiative (HIMADRI), India. This programme has been also initiated in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh.
The major objectives of the Project included: Establishment of long term ecological records in alpine ecosystems of Indian Himalaya; Understanding alpine ecosystem response using remote sensing data, in-situ data and Modeling; Remote sensing based seamless geospatial database development of the alpine Ecosystem towards creation of baseline national data; Reconstruction of past alpine tree line with state-of-the-art techniques; Simulation of future climate change impact on alpine landscape.
The team first selected the 3 highest summit points (HSP) at Gnathang, East Sikkim and studied the floral diversity. The objective was to find and select permanent ecological site for the long-term monitoring of flora, for which, Gnathang near Kupup, East Sikkim and Thangu, North Sikkim were selected. However, in Thangu, North Sikkim, the scientific team has unable to locate appropriate highest summit points, which can fulfill the objectives of the project.
Further, the team will again survey the West district of Sikkim to get the perfect ecological site to study the climate induced impacts on the alpine and tree line habitats. At the end, one permanent site would be finalized for the state of Sikkim for long term monitoring of alpine ecosystem dynamics, where Temperature logger and Phenocam would be installed.
The Project was funded by Space Applications Centre (ISRO), Ahmedabad, Government of India to Sikkim State Council of Science and Technology in which Sikkim State Remote Sensing Applications Centre under Sikkim State Council of Science and Technology is the Nodal Centre for the project, it is informed.
The results and outcomes of the project would lead to a current tree line database for the state of Sikkim, tree line shift database of 3-4 decades, long term ecological sites fully characterized and equipped for monitoring long term changes, GPS tagged data on alpine species occurrence (dominance), phenological derivatives for the Himalayan vegetation (3-4 decades), simulated scenario maps of alpine landscape and lichenometric analysis based past climatology of alpine ecotones.
It is expected that the programme would have long term monitoring since quantifying the results of climate induced impacts on alpine flora and their phenology requires at least 30 years of time series data, the release adds.

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