Climate Oral History

Climate Change Oral History in the Himalaya

Rob Thomas is a professor of geology at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana. He also serves as the naturalist instructor for the Khumbu Climbing Center (KCC) in Phortse, Nepal near Mt. Everest, which is run by the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation. Each January, approximately 80 Nepali students come to Phortse for instruction in basic and advanced mountaineering, rescue techniques, first aid and natural history education. 

In an attempt to gather proxy data on climate change in the Khumbu region, we are talking with village elders about changes in weather and climate during their lifetimes. Data gathering will begin during the KCC class session in January, 2013. A matrix will be developed to insert data on basic observations of weather and climate as described by the people who live in the Himalayas. 

How Will This Data Be Used?
The data will be used for both publication and management. Well over a billion people are dependent on the water that comes from the glaciers in the Himalaya, so if the region is warming and the glaciers are receding at an increased rate, this has major ramifications for human society in the region.
How Can You Participate?
Volunteers will gather data from village elders in the Himalaya. Key data to collect include changes over a lifetime in temperature, snow depth, changes in surface water and groundwater, and timing of snow fall and rain (depending on elevation).