The Himalayas

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The Himalayas are one of the most dramatic mountain ranges in the world. They are also home to the highest mountains in the world (The Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga). The Himalayas are home to an astounding diversity of plants and animals, and are considered  ‘biodiversity hotspots’ as they contain many endemics. The topographical complexity of the Himalayas, with the many ranges and valleys, has not only influenced biodiversity, but also the diversity of people. This is a fascinating potpourri of people, languages and culture. The Tibetan plateau lies to the north of the main Himalayan mountain range. The Himalayan system (defined as the region that includes both the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau) affects the lives of billions of people who live around these two regions. How? you might ask. The Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Yangtze, Irrawaddy, Mekong are amongst other major rivers of Asia that have their source in the Himalayan system; many more tributaries also originate here. Thus, more than a few billion people depend on these regions as sources of water – be it for agriculture, drinking or for industries. In fact, the Ganges plains is one most densely populated regions in the world!

But all may not be well with this spectacular system. It has been observed that the mean rise in temperature in the Himalayan system has been higher than the mean global temperature, although there is some debate over this. Recent reports of glacier retreat in the Himalayas and in the Tibetan plateau threaten the water security of the region. Moreover, many dams are being planned on the rivers in the region. What can we do to mitigate risks for the communities that live here? Are there ways to ensure water security and biodiversity conservation?

In this series, The Himalayas, we will explore the geology, geography, diversity and the threats to the Himalayas. We will kick off the series with a history of the Himalaya, and the latest that science has to say. Stay tuned!

The first post And the Himalayas are formed talks of the birth of the Himalayas! But how do we know this story?
The second post The story of a birth and a death, told through fossils explores this further.

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