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CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS AMONG THE SHERPAS

By 2010, there had been at least two cases of false alarms of Imja glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in Pharak Mount Everest region. In one of these events, news of rising water in the nearby rivers and possible GLOF was spread to several villages of this remote mountainous region within hours by mobile phones. The Sherpas, local residents, fled to higher grounds with their belongings, including one mother with her newborn child in the middle of night only to find refuge in their potato field. This incident had occurred a week after climate change information sharing workshop was organized in Namche. Prior to the Copenhagen Climate Summit, COP-15, there had been a crowding of similar climate change related institutional activities, from art competition to marathons to the cabinet meeting in Kalapatt har. After December of 2009, such activities declined significantly. In light of these reports from the Everest region, and scientific literature discussing the imminent threat from Imja GLOF and rapid melting of glaciers, the present ethnographic research was developed to better understand how climate change is unfolding locally and how the Sherpas are affected. 

The objectives of this research at its inception were: 1) to complement the existing research on the physical and biological effects of global warming in this region, by including the perspectives of local people on climate change’s ecological and socio-cultural impacts; and 2) to facilitate inclusion of local people in the local, regional, national and international process of climate change preparedness and risk management.

Habitat Himalaya is published three times a year. Contemporary nature conservation and sustainable development issues connected with livelihood across the Himalaya, are deliberated to inform a select group of knowledge holders in some 30 countries. All papers published in the Habitat Himalaya, are comprehensively reviewed and edited.

Habitat Himalaya is a self-funded project since 1994 and has become a flagship publication of the Foundation. The download is in PDF format. If you wish to receive a copy of the paper without water mark, please log in at our home page. Thank you for your support to nature conservation in the Himalaya.

Dr. Sherpa is a Lecturer at the Pennsylvania State University USA. Readers may write to her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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