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Q: Impact of climate change in Bhutan ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Impact of climate change in Bhutan
Category: Science > Earth Sciences
Asked by: bestbeast-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 20 Jan 2006 02:53 PST
Expires: 19 Feb 2006 02:53 PST
Question ID: 435740
I would like to know the names and contact details (website or email
only) of individuals, companies, NGOs or government agencies who have
carried out research or fieldwork in Bhutan during the past 5 years in
relation to the following subjects:

*  the current and likely future impact of climate change on Bhutan;
*  steps that can be taken to mitigate those effects;
*  increased risks of flooding in Bhutan as a result of climate change;
*  steps that can be taken to develop flood warning systems to combat those   risks

For each individual, company, etc, please include a brief summnary of
the work they have done.  If you consider that the request is too
wide, please concentrate on the specific issues about flood risks and
flood warning systems.

Clarification of Question by bestbeast-ga on 21 Jan 2006 01:50 PST
I posted this question yesterday - it was locked for a while and is
now unlocked, so I wonder if someone tried to answer and gave up.

It might help if I explain what my interest is.  I am a member of a
society that organises speaker meetings about various subjects to do
with the Himalayas.  It's not a specialist scientific or geographical
society.  I am trying to find someone who would speak to a meeting -
in London - about the effect of climate change on Bhutan.  I am
looking for someone who would be suitable to a non-technical audience,
but at the same time someone with real expertise.  My question is
intended to be a first step in this search.

More generally I am thinking of doing some more general work to raise
awareness of climate change as it effects Bhutan - again obtaining an
answer to my question is a good first step as it will help me decide
who to approach for further information.

I hope this helps anyone who is thinking of working on this question.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 21 Jan 2006 08:32 PST

I had your question locked for a while the other day, and I did manage
to uncover a number of documents and links pertaining to climate
change and Bhutan.

What became clear from my efforts was this:

--Bhutan, as a high-mountain kingdom without and large sea or lake
shoreline, is not susceptible to the impacts of rising sea levels that
could accompany global warming.  As a result, there's not a lot of
good, hard technical information that I could see.

--However, that's not to say that impacts would be non-existant.  Of
particular concern is rapid glacial melt in Bhutan, that could lead to
local flooding, dam bursts, etc.  Also, a shift in climate anywhere in
the world affects agriculture, and as a largely agrarian society,
Bhutan would have a special urgency in that regard.

--Most of the information I found was policy and process oriented,
rather than technical or scientific...e.g., the schedule for writing
reports to adhere to international treaties, etc.

--Also, the online information was pretty dated, circa 2000-2001,
which makes it tough to know if any contact information in the reports
is still relevant.

Your clarification may help things.  If your main interest is in
identifying potential speakers on this topic, then perhaps it makes
more sense to concentrate on that aspect of things, without trying to
give you a hard-to-find technical overview of global climate change
impacts in Bhutan.

Let me know your thoughts on this.


Clarification of Question by bestbeast-ga on 21 Jan 2006 09:53 PST
Thanks for your work on this so far.  

You are of course right that rising sea levels are not a problem for
Bhutan - it's about as far inland as you can get!  However, as I
understand it climate change is still a grave concern in a number of
ways.  One obvious issue - highlighted in my question - is the
formation of glacial lakes and the consequential risk of flooding.  A
second - which you mention - is the effect on agriculture of changing
patterns of rainfall or of changes to the flow of river water.  A
third issue is that Bhutan has a number of hydro-electric power
schemes - to a great extent it funds its health and education system
by selling electricity to India - any disruption to these schemes
would also be serious.

There were news reports in the UK in late 2005 (BBC news - though I
can't find anything helpful on their website) concentrating on the
danger of flooding.  So I assume that someone somewhere is aware of
this issue - though whether anything worthwhile is being done is
another issue.

I have found one or two references to UN work being done in relation
to Bhutan and climate change, but it seems to be about people
shuffling paper from one office to the next, rather than anything of
direct obvious benefit.

May I suggest the following approach.

1.  Have another try at the original request - see if the points I
make above are of any help.

2.  If you still find you are not getting anywhere, switch the focus
and try instead to identify suitable speakers - or people who might be
able to put me in touch with suitable speakers - eg people in
geography departments of Universities working on related areas.

Does this help?  Don't hesitate to come back to me if you would like
further clarification.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 21 Jan 2006 14:11 PST

I've continued looking into this question, which grows ever-more
interesting as I dig up more resources.

Two things that seemed worth bringing immediately to your attention are:

This United Nations report:
Inventory of Glacial Lakes and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods

has a comprehensive section on Bhutan.  The site is a bit odd in how
it's put together, but clicking on "Start" will eventually take you to
the Bhutan report.

A direct link to the report is here, but going to it through theStart
button will give you fuller access to the materials:

Glacial Lake Outburst Floods in Bhutan

...Bhutan is a mountainous country, where mountains and hills occupy
most of the land. Out of the 2,400 km long Himalayan range, the Bhutan
Himalayas extend up to 340 km. The country is vulnerable to various
hazards due to fragile geological conditions, great elevation
differences, and steep sloping terrain. Apart from landslides and
river erosion, the mountainous region is also quite susceptible to
disastrous hazards due to glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).

...In the last half-century, several glacial lakes have developed in
the Hindu Kush-Himalayas and Tibetan Himalayas. This may be attributed
to the effect of recent global warming. The glacial lakes are formed
on the glacier terminus due to the recent retreating processes of the
glaciers. The majority of these glacial lakes are dammed by unstable
moraines, which were formed by the glaciations of the Little Ice Age.
Occasionally, the lake happens to burst and suddenly releases an
enormous amount of its stored water, which causes serious floods
downstream along the river channel. This phenomenon, generally known
as glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF), is recognised to be a common
problem in Hindu Kush-Himalayan countries such as Nepal, India,
Pakistan, Bhutan, and China (Tibet).

...In Bhutan, the sources of its major rivers and the bulk of its
freshwater resources are locked up in ice and snow. The advance of
glaciers during the Little Ice Age has built up prominent end moraines
in the Higher Himalaya of Bhutan in the headwaters of Mo Chu, Pho Chu,
Mangde Chu, Chamkhar Chu, Kuri Chu, and Pa Chu. During the last few
decades there has been a rapid retreat of glaciers creating many
dangerous moraine-dammed lakes. In some glaciers (e.g. Thorthormi
Glacier) small isolated lakes/ponds have formed. They are increasing
in size at a very fast rate. It has been observed that some of the
glaciers in Bhutan are retreating by about 20?30m in a year.

The authors of the report are listed as:

Mr.Pradeep Mool
Project Coordinator
 Remote Sensing Analyst
G.P.O Box 3226
Kathmandu, Nepal
Mr. Dorji Wangda
Mr. Karma Kunzang
Asst. Engineering Geologist

Mr. Deo Raj Gurung
Asst. Geologist
 Department of Geology and Mines
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Royal Government of Bhutan
P.O.Box 173, Thimpu, Kingdom of Bhutan
Tel:975-2-23096, 322879

Mr. Samjwal Ratna Bajracharya
Department of Geology
Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus
Tribhuvan University
Kathmandu, Nepal
Mr. Sharad Prasad Joshi
Water and Engineering Commission Secretariat
Singha Durbar
P.O Box 1340 Kathmandu, Nepal
Mr. Kiran Shakya
 Multimedia Programmer
Mr. Amit Baidya
 Multimedia Programmer


Another interesting site, involving a scientist not that far from London is here:
Climate Change Threatens the Roof of the World
Helen Hendry, Cambridge University


Let me know if this sort of information is on target for what you need.


Clarification of Question by bestbeast-ga on 22 Jan 2006 04:11 PST
This is very much on target - I really appreciate the work you are
doing here.  I have looked at both references and they are very

It would be good to know if there has been any follow up to the UN
report, which seems to have been published in 2002.  But the report
itself is great - it is looking at all the issues I am interested in.

I suppose the question now is how much longer you feel able to spend
on this - would it be reasonable to spend, say, another hour or so
seeing if you can find similar material along the lines of what you
have already found?

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 22 Jan 2006 05:07 PST
Thanks for the feedback.

Most of what I'm finding at this point is a rehash of the information
in the reports I already linked to.

However, an occassional work with a new focus or of more recent
vintage, does pop up, such as this one:
Landslides in Bhutan
Karma Kuenza, Yeshi Dorji, Dorji Wangda
Department of Geology & Mines, G.P.O. 173,
MTI, Thimphu, Bhutan
Phone: 975-02-322879

I'm still looking, so I'll let you know what else turns up.  


Clarification of Question by bestbeast-ga on 22 Jan 2006 06:14 PST
Many thanks for the update.  I look forward to hearing what else turns up.
Subject: Re: Impact of climate change in Bhutan
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 22 Jan 2006 19:39 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for your patience on this.

As I mentioned earlier, there isn't a great deal of information out
there specific to climate change in Bhutan, and what is there tends to
rehash the same limited information over and over.

However, I did find some additional sources of information that were
not only on-target, but fairly up to date.  In addition, I also found
a number of sources that -- while only tangentially related to climate
change -- seemed to be contacts worth knowing about, so I included
those as well.

I trust the information below -- along with the earlier links I cited
-- fully answers your question.

However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need.  If you would like any additional information, just post a
Request for Clarification to let me know how I can assist you further,
and I'm at your service.

All the best,



Some good details here on glaciers (in Bhutan and elsewhere) and
global climate change:
FLOOD: When water cannot stay contained anymore!! 
Bhaskar Karnick & V.Krishna Moorthy

...see section 08. Effect of Global warming


A UNEP report with a lot of the usual blah-blah-blah, but a good contacts list:

Dasho Nado Rinchhen 
Deputy Minister 
National Environment Commission 
Post Box No. 466, 
Thimphu, Bhutan 
Tel: (975) 2 323384, 324 323 
Fax: (975) 2 323 385 

UNEP Focal Point:  
Dasho Nado Rinchhen 
Deputy Minister 
National Environment Commission 
Post Box No. 466, 
Thimphu, Bhutan 
Tel: (975) 2 323384, 324 323 
Fax: (975) 2 323 385 


Here is a another fairly recent UNEP report that covers the State of
the Environment in Bhutan and surrounding countries.  Again, not a
great deal here on climate change, but potentially, a good source of
recent contact information, including:
Sustainable Development Priorities for South Asia

Ms. Tshering Lham
Communications Coordinator
Royal Society for Protection of nature
Post Box 325, Thimpu, Bhutan
Tel : 975-2-326-130, 322-056
Fax : 975-2-323-289
Email :

Mr. Karma Lodey Rapten
Technical Division
National Environment Commission
Royal Government of Bhutan
P.O. Box 466
Thimphu, Bhutan
Tel : 975-2-325-856/324-232
Fax : 975-2-323385
Email :

Mr. Ugen Tenzin,
Deputy Director, National Environment
Commission (NEC)
National Environment Commission Secretariat
P.O. Box 466
Thimphu, Bhutan
Email :

Ms. Tenzin Wangmo,
Planning Officer, Department of Planning
Ministry of Finance, Thimphu, Bhutan
Tel : (office): +975-2-322-503/325-192/321-053/325-741;
Tel : (home): +975-2-351-104
Fax : +975-2-322928
Email :


The well-respected environmental organization, World Wildlife Fund is
active in Bhutan, though their site is surprisingly empty of much
information on climate change.  Still, they definitely have some
informative publications, and would seem to be good folks to contact
in terms of learning who's who in Bhutan:

WWF Bhutan
WWF Bhutan Program
P.O.Box 210
Thimphu, Bhutan
Tel: +975 -2-323528 / 323316
Fax: +-975-2-323518


Also from WWF, this is a frustrating report, because it contains some
of the best detailed information about the Bhutan environment, but
ther report itself is posted in a very garbled fashion -- the pages
are out of order, and one must skip through several screens, in order
to continue a passage.  There isn't much here on climate change per
se, but this is still worth wading through:
Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex


Decent overview of water-related issues in Himalayan countries vis a
vis climate change, but not a lot of detail, and no contact
Implications of the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Mountain
Environments in the HKH


More on glaciers and climate change, with some good illustrations
specific to Bhutan:
The Challenges of Mountain Environments: Water, Natural Resources,
Hazards, Desertification and the Implications of Climate Change


A related paper:
Glacial Lake Outburst Floods in Nepal and Switzerland New Threats Due
to Climate Change


Only tangentially related to climate change, but a good contact, just the same:
Landslides in Bhutan
Karma Kuenza, Yeshi Dorji, Dorji Wangda
Department of Geology & Mines, G.P.O. 173,
MTI, Thimphu, Bhutan
Phone: 975-02-322879


Again, let me know if there's anything more I can do for you, and all
the best with your important work.


search strategy -- Google searches on:

[ bhutan "climate change" ]

[ bhutan glacial lake outbursts ]

[himalayas "climate change" ]

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 06 Feb 2006 07:02 PST

Sorry to hear about your difficulties with the Big G.  Hope
everything's worked out now, and hope it all goes smoothly next time,
as well (if you decide to visit us again, that is!).

If there's anything I can do to help things along, just post a comment
to let me know.

bestbeast-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $50.00
Tough question - highly professional job - great use of the request
for clarification feature, leading to a very useful dialogue.

Subject: Re: Impact of climate change in Bhutan
From: pafalafa-ga on 23 Jan 2006 05:34 PST
Thanks so much!  It's always great to hear that our work hit the nail
on the head.  Hope we'll see you back at GA one of these days.

Subject: Re: Impact of climate change in Bhutan
From: bestbeast-ga on 06 Feb 2006 04:47 PST
Very much hope that you have been paid for your work.  I had a
ridiculous struggle with google (they kept declining to process my
credit card payment despite the fact that my card issuer authorised
the payment) - it seems though that the payment has now finally been
successfully processed.  If it hasn't reached you then please post
here and let me know.

The Google Answers service is great, but Google's customer support
when something goes wrong is just lousy - nobody on the end of a phone
to talk to, you just send emails into the void and get bland standard
form answers back that show no sign of addressing what you have
written.  I really think that this issue about customer service needs
to be addressed urgently if Google is to maintain its share price and
profits at current stellar levels.

A shame that such a positive experience of using the service turned
into a source of such frustration for me when I tried to pay the bill.

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