British scientists based on analysis of satellite data have found new vegetation growth trends in high-altitude areas of the Himalayas,media reported. The expansion of plant life is in line with climate change models, and researchers are aware that it could have a profound impact on melting ice and water, which could have a profound impact on Asia as a whole.
The study was carried out by scientists from the University of Exeter, who used data collected by NASA’s Landsat satellite between 1993 and 2018 to assess the plant growth coverage – snow-covered vegetation – between tree and snow lines.
Measurements are broken down into four altitude ranges between 4150 and 6000 meters above sea level, with “small but significant” changes observed in all categories. The most significant changes occur between 5,000 and 5,500 metres above sea level, while about 6,000 metres are considered to be close to the height limit of plant growth.
According to the team’s research, this trend in sub-ice vegetation expansion is consistent with the decline in so-called “temperature-limiting areas” in the Himalayas predicted by climate change models.
“It’s important to monitor and understand the ice loss of large mountain systems, but the under-snow ecosystemise is much larger than permanent snow cover, but we don’t know much about them and we don’t know how they regulate water supply,” said Dr. Karen Anderson, lead author of the study. Snowfall and melting here are seasonal, and we don’t know what impact the changing snow cover will have on this aspect of the water cycle — and that’s critical because the area (known as the ‘Asian Water Tower’) feeds the top ten rivers in Asia. “
The research area, known as Hindu Kush Himalayan, spans eight countries and has more than 1.4 billion people relying on its dripping water to keep them healthy. The researchers hope to conduct detailed field surveys to verify their findings and better understand the relationship between new plants, soil and snow at these high altitudes.
The study was published in Global Change Biology.