Kathmandu, December 2: The outdoor exhibition by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in conjunction with the Nepal Tourism Board, is on show 2-8 December at the Hanuman Dhoka temple complex on Kathmandu Durbar Square.
During the 1950s, Austrian and Swiss scientists conducted intensive studies of the Everest region in Nepal taking photographs of the glaciers, mountains and valleys. Around the same time, the Swiss glaciologist Fritz Müller spent eight months in the region at locations above 5000 metres, studying and photographing the Himalayan glaciers.
Now, fifty years later, the black and white photographs taken by these scientists are of immense value in trying to understand the impacts of climate change on the world’s highest mountain range, the Himalayas. Mountain geographer Alton Byers revisited many of the sites of the original photographs in 2007 to take replicates. The old and new photographs have now been united in a unique photo exhibition: Himalaya – Changing Landscapes, on show outside the Hanuman Dhoka temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square. The exhibition is part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations for ICIMOD and is promoted by the Nepal Tourism Board.
The Himalaya – Changing Landscapes photo exhibition aims to raise awareness of the impact of climate change and of the new challenges mountain people are facing. The stunning repeat panorama views of mountains and glaciers are accompanied by images of the Himalayan people, as well as photographs of the scientists conducting glacier research in the 1950s. The two-metre long photo panels are located outside the Hanuman Dhoka temple; entrance to the exhibition is free of charge.
Climate change is affecting people and the environment around the globe. This is especially evident in the Himalayas. The greater Himalayan region has the largest concentration of snow and ice outside the two poles. Warming in the Himalayan region has been much greater than the global average and the rising temperatures are leading to rapid melting of the glaciers. Weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable and extreme with prolonged dry spells and very strong storm events. This phenomenon is causing concern over the long-term reduction in total water supply, affecting the lives and livelihoods of the Himalayan people, especially in agriculture practices and long-term food security. Ten river systems originating in the Himalayas bring water to a mountain population of around 200 million, while the vast water basins downstream are home to a further 1.3 billion people. In total 1.5 billion people – a fifth of the world’s population – depend on the Himalayan rivers for their water supply. The lives and livelihoods of the people are likely to be severely affected by the shrinking of the glaciers.
In the words of Dr. Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD; “What we see here at the Himalaya photo exhibition is just the tip of the iceberg. The changes taking place are alarming, and the time to act is now. Scientific evidence shows that the effects of globalisation and climate change are being felt in even the most remote Himalayan environments. While climate change is mostly caused by the highly industrialised parts of the world, the effects are taking their toll in the sensitive mountain areas. The signs are visible, but there is very little in-depth knowledge and data available from the Himalayan region. Global measures of scientific co-operation and regional collaboration are needed to reduce this information gap. What happens in this remote mountain region is a serious concern for the whole world”.
To respond to the effects of climate change, the Nepal Government, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, and the Nepal Tourism Board have jointly created a special fund: the ‘Climate Neutral Planet Fund-Nepal’. We believe this gesture will also help transmit a strong message to everyone to mitigate the challenges of climate change. Nepal Tourism Board’s partnership with this Photo Exhibition is a further step on the part of the Board to raise awareness on this issue, which will be crucial for the prospects of tourism in the years to come.
The Himalaya – Changing Landscapes photo exhibition was first unveiled in a small format at the Mount Everest Base Camp (5300m) in April 2008, making it the highest photo exhibition in the world. The exhibition has already had European showings in Stockholm and in Barcelona. After Kathmandu the exhibition will travel back to Europe where it is expected to be shown in Germany, Switzerland and Italy in 2009.
For future exhibition dates and locations please see www.changing-landscapes.com