Accelerated melting of Himalayan snow and ice triggers pronounced changes in a valley peatland from northern India

Kathleen Rühland, Netajirao R. Phadtare, Rajendra K. Pant, Satish J. Sangode, John P. Smol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Himalayan region of northern India depends on monsoon rains, together with snow and glacial melt, to supply life-sustaining water to one of the world's most densely populated areas. Here we provide high-resolution pollen and diatom evidence from a peat deposit in the Finder Valley that shows a synchronous and abrupt ecosystem turnover toward a wetter state in the last two centuries that exceeded changes recorded over the last three millennia. Contrary to expectations, there was no relationship between recent proxy changes and summer monsoon precipitation. Strong relationships, however, were found with winter climate data. We link this recent unprecedented wetness to marked warming at higher elevations resulting in increased seasonal runoff and associated climatic feedbacks in this snow and ice-melt dominated region. In contrast to the expected desiccation and decomposition of most peat systems with warming, this site has instead become the wettest in its ca. 3500-year history.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL15709
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume33
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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