Assessing Alpine Ecosystem Dynamics over the Great Himalayan Mountain Range, Kashmir: Earth Observation and Ecosystem Modeling

Abstract

The alpine vegetation distribution in the Greater Himalaya, Kashmir is preseted and its projected behavior under changing climate using LANDSAT TM (2002) and LANDSAT-8 (2014) data, mapped at 1:30000 scale and having spatial resolution of 30 m. The alpine vegetation in the region spans ∼2990 km2. SRTM DEM was used to delineate the spatial extents of the alpine landscapes (>2500 m asl). A total of nine land use classes which include Alpine pasture, Alpine scrubs, bare land, dense forest, exposed rocks, lakes, rivers, snow and sparse forest were identified in the area. The results reflect both positive and negative changes in all classes over time. Alpine pastures have increased 60.11 km2 followed by Alpine scrubs, which have increased by 54.70 km2. Exposed rocks have reduced to 29.22 km2, while sparse forests have diminished by 23.62 km2. Bare land has decreased by 14.64 km2 and snow has declined by 2.04 km2. Lakes in the area have shrunk by 0.84 km2 and river by 0.02 km. The overall observed results revealed that Alpine pastures have increased by 17% followed by Alpine scrubs to 15%. The future climate projections from Worldclim (RCP 8.5) and other environmental data used in the MaxEnt model suggest increase in the suitable habitat for the shrub species by the mid of 21st century.

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Acknowledgements

I am thankful to the reviewers for providing valuable recommendations and remarks on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Subiaya Bashir.

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Bashir, S. Assessing Alpine Ecosystem Dynamics over the Great Himalayan Mountain Range, Kashmir: Earth Observation and Ecosystem Modeling. J Geol Soc India 97, 158–164 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12594-021-1647-9

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