Guwahati, Jan. 6: The Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme, funded by the Norway government, will now study the upper Brahmaputra basin in Tibet as any change there will have major consequences for middle and lower courses of the river.
The programme is a major initiative under Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod) Regional Programme on Adaptation to Change — a five-year applied and basic research programme.
The programme will study the Lhasa sub-basin in Tibet and the Icimod is in contact with organisations like Tibet Academy of Agriculture and Animal Sciences for carrying out joint field research.
The Brahmaputra originates from Angsi glacier in Tibet Autonomous Region in China where it is known as Yarlung Tsangpo. Its longest tributary is the Nyang river. In Tibet, the river flows through the South Tibet Valley, which is approximately 1,200km long and 300km wide, before passing through Arunachal Pradesh where it is known as the Dihang or Siang.
“The Yarlung river being the highest major river in the world is of big interest to us. Additionally any change in upper Brahmaputra has major consequences for the middle and lower Brahmaputra — be it construction of dam, changes in forests and water utilisation pattern because of human activities or changes in climate causing more ice melting or evaporation of water,” Nand Kishor Agrawal, programme coordinator, HICAP Water and Hazards International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, told The Telegraph.
Agrawal said they had very limited knowledge about that basin, that too only from secondary literature. He said efforts are on to assess the ongoing and expected changes, more particularly climatic changes, which will affect water availability and demand from the river in upper Brahmaputra.
“Therefore, first we will assess the changes and their impact on the upper basin itself. Later, while analysing the data from Arunachal and Assam parts, we will assess the impact of changes on the people and ecosystem of the entire basin,” he added.
In addition, a series of site-specific research on ecosystems — forests, grasslands and others, agriculture productivity and how the rural community living in these areas are coping with the changes, will be done.
“We will assess their current socio-economic status, increase/decrease in productivity in recent years, means of livelihood and their response mechanisms in case of a natural disaster,” he said.