Workshop on Cryosphere and Hazards for the Hindu
Kush-Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau
31 March-2 April 2008
There is a major need for better long-term monitoring
of glaciers in the Himalayas using direct observations
in the field, as well as for improved sharing
of data among the different countries in the
These were among the conclusions drawn by the
more than 70 international scientists who met
at a three-day workshop on ‘Cryosphere and Hazards
for the Hindu Kush Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau’
from to discuss the problems of glaciers, glacial
fluctuations, and loss of permafrost in the
mountains and plateaus of the Himalayas.
The meeting, held at the International Centre
for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD),
was organised by the University of Nebraska
at Omaha (UNO), Global Land Ice Measurements
from Space Regional Centre for Southwest Asia
(GLIMS), Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study
(MAIRS), Institute for Development and Innovation
(IDI), Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), and
ICIMOD; with participants mainly from the USA,
China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and other Asian
The event was designed to engage scientists
in cross-border scientific dialogue about the
problems and possibilities associated with snow
and ice in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.
The workshop brought together the best geoscience
expertise available for the region. Experts
brainstormed on new ideas and procedures for
obtaining information about the status and trends
of snow and ice resources in this extended mountain
area. The massive stores of water in the region
in the form of snow and ice have given it the
nicknames of ‘Water Tower of Asia’ and the ‘Third
Pole’ -- the largest ice reserves in the world
outside of the Arctic and Antarctic.
However, these snow and ice resources are undergoing
rapid changes that are generally attributed
to climate change and could have a major impact
on the lives and livelihoods of millions of
people in the region and the river basins downstream.
This mass of snow and ice also plays an important
role in determining the global climate.
Solid scientific understanding of the processes
taking place is essential for future planning,
and this workshop helped bring together the
knowledge that is available, and also to highlight
The six-point conclusion of the workshop urged
the governments of the Himalayan countries to
facilitate data generation and sharing, and
to identify at least one model glacier in each
country for long-term field-based study.
A standard method should be developed and used
for monitoring and assessing glaciers across
the region to facilitate comparative analysis.
Development of basin-wide water scenarios should
be encouraged for all major water basins in
Scientists needed to be educated and trained
on emerging technologies and a database developed
on glaciological data resources.