See More on Facebook

News

Climate change to cause frequent landslides in the Himalayan region, including Nepal, says NASA

According to its study, there will be a 30-70 per cent rise in the frequency of landslides in the border regions of China and Nepal that would pose threats to the region’s infrastructure and communities living downstream.


Written by

Updated: February 13, 2020

Changing rainfall patterns—turning more frequent and intense due to climate change— could trigger an increased number of landslides in Nepal, bordering regions of China and in the higher Himalayan region, according to new research findings of NASA.

The NASA study, which is said to be the first quantitative study of the links between precipitation and landslides in the region, says the rise in landslide events would be significant in the border regions of China and Nepal, recording a surge of 30 percent to 70 percent in the number of landslides.

The research findings, released on Tuesday, looks more alarming because the projected increased number of landslides in the region would take place in areas currently covered by glaciers and glacial lakes, which is already feeling the heat of climate change.

The latest findings only add more evidence of a harsher future for the Himalayan region, which, for long, has been proven to witness adverse impacts of climate change in various sectors.

The finding strongly validates arguments that countries like Nepal are more vulnerable to climate change, said Manjeet Dhakal, a climate change expert and advisor to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Chair to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“As it clearly mentions climate change as the reason behind more extreme events like landslides, it provides a strong ground for negotiations with international communities and for attribution, where we have always been weak,” Dhakal added.

The study, a collaboration between scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Washington; and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, was based on satellite estimates and modelled precipitation data to project how changing rainfall patterns in the region might affect landslide frequency in the region.

The study team had relied on different models for assessing precipitation and landslide trends in the future (2061-2100) versus the past (1961-2000).

The findings of the study are troubling, especially because the landslides in such fragile zones would not be limited to the region alone, its impact would reach downstream communities, with landslides damaging dams and other infrastructures.

“Problems of the mountain would not be a problem of the mountain region alone. This report shows that such effects would have a cascading impact on low-lying communities, by damaging infrastructures and water resources, ” said Dhakal. “This report once again proves that a mountainous country like Nepal is more vulnerable to climate change effects and gives us strong evidence that the developed countries should cut down emissions.”

The Hindukush Himalayan region, which stretches from Afghanistan to Myanmar, is known as a water tower for the region as it meets water needs for the region and millions of people. The region has been facing an accelerated rate of melting of ice and is projected to lose one-third of its ice by the end of the century.

According to a recent study, rising demands and excessive melting of glaciers accelerated by climate change has threatened the region’s water towers, which could pose a risk of water storage for over 1.9 billion people.

Experts worry that the impacts of climate change would be even deadlier for Nepal where the climate resilience and preparedness against the looming mayhem remains poor.

“Our country has not even reached a certain level of understanding about climate change, which has become a climate crisis,” said Madhukar Upadhya, climate change and watershed management expert. “In the last few years, we have witnessed how rainfall patterns have altered and caused massive water-induced disasters.”

In recent years, Nepal has been experiencing changes in rainfall patterns, which is becoming more intense with heavy rainfall within a short span of time, unleashing water-induced disasters in the country.

A government study, “Observed Climate Trend Analysis of Nepal (1971-2014)”, based on the hydro-meteorological data of four decades from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, had clearly projected signs of climate change impacts in the country, in the form of increased temperature and changes in rainfall patterns. The study concluded that extreme rainfall has significantly increased in northwestern and northeastern districts of the country.

Another study predicted that Nepal’s climate is likely to get warmer and wetter in the future, indicating an increase in intense rainfall events and temperature increase. It further said while there will be higher intensity rainfall, there will be fewer rainy days.

According to Upadhya, the total loss incurred due to water-induced disasters was Rs28 billion between 1983-2005 and for the period of 2010-2016, it was Rs16 billion, showing there has been an increase in losses due to extreme weather events.

“The total estimated loss was more than Rs60 billion in 2017, which saw massive floods in Tarai and landslides in the hilly regions. We are incurring economic losses due to climate change,” said Upadhya. “There are changes in rainfall patterns at the same time there are droughts too. Hydropower and our highways which are along major rivers that get flooded every year will continue to be affected due to climate change events. But our preparation is almost nil.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Kathmandu Post
About the Author: The Kathmandu Post was Nepal’s first privately owned English broadsheet daily and is currently the country's leading English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

News

EDITORIAL: Mr Trump in India

US President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were able to convey a robust message to the west of the Radcliffe Line, thanks largely to their personal chemistry. The diplomatic irony has been rather exceptionally bitter. Donald Trump’s 36-hour visit to India was somewhat pushed out of focus by the communal flare-up that has overwhelmed parts of Delhi, with the death toll rising to 27 till Thursday afternoon. And yet the US President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were able to convey a robust message to the west of the Radcliffe Line, thanks largely to their personal chemistry. And unlike some previous US Presidents, Mr Trump chose not to follow up his visit to India with another to Pakistan… as often as not to sing a different piece. No, he hasn


By The Statesman
February 28, 2020

News

As Covid-19 spreads, public health officials consider plans for a worst-case scenario

 Department of Health Services has a Plan B for a few infections but its Plan C envisions shutting down all schools, public transport and gatherings in case of a mass outbreak. While Covid-19 coronavirus infections have significantly slowed in China, they are rapidly spreading around the globe, prompting countries to step up measures to control the spread and the UN 


By The Kathmandu Post
February 28, 2020

News

Vietnam reaffirms support for nuclear non-proliferation treaty

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, head of Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, has reaffirmed Vietnam’s strong support for the realisation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on three pillars. During a session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the NPT, Ambassador Quy affirmed that Vietnam has joined all international efforts regarding non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, including regional and global conventions; complied with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s highest safety standards; and strictly followed the UNSC’s resolutions. He said any intentional, unintentional or miscalculated use of nuclear weapons seriously threatened global peace and


By Viet Nam News
February 28, 2020

News

Budget debate: Coronavirus concerns present long-term opportunities, say MPs

Many have little savings to see them though a work drought, she said, noting that a number of events and work assignments have been cancelled or deferred as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. While the coronavirus outbreak has battered businesses, it has also created opportunities to better prepare Singapore for future challenges, MPs said on Thursday (Feb 27). Speaking on Day 2 of the debate on the Budget statement, they said these include getting more firms to adopt e-commerce, diversifying supply sources and making flexible work arrangements permanent for working parents and caregivers. A total of 54 MPs, including political office holders, spoke over two days on various aspects of the Budget. USING TODAY’S CRISIS TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTU


By The Straits Times
February 28, 2020

News

Coronavirus: 2 new cases confirmed; 4 more, including private hospital doctor, discharged

 Two patients from the Grace Assembly of God cluster, cases 49 and 73, were also discharged.  Two new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) were confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Feb 26) and four others have recovered and were discharged. This brings the total number of cases here to 93, of which 62 have fully recovered. Case 59, the private hospital doctor, was among the four discharged. The 61-year-old Singaporean was confirmed to have the virus on Feb 13 and had been warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. He is not linked to any of the five known clusters but is a non-medical contact of case 72, a 40-year-old man from China who holds a Singapore work pass. Case 56, a Banglad


By The Straits Times
February 27, 2020

News

Japan provides protective gear for use in battling coronavirus

 The government of Japan has given personal protective supplies to the Ministry of Health to help medical staff if they are required to care for people infected with the coronavirus. The items were handed over at the Ministry of Health on Tuesday by the Ambassador of Japan to Laos, Mr Takewaka Keizo, to Minister of Health Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong. The supplies comprised 4,680 isolation gowns, 6,100 gloves, 6,000 N95 masks, 13,200 surgical masks, 27 goggles, and 240 bottles of alcohol hand rub. Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong thanked the government of Japan for its assistance, saying “On behalf of Laos, we would like to express our appreciation to the government of Japan for its continuing support to our country.” The ministry has been st


By Vientiane Times
February 27, 2020