Application of GIS and RS in Climate Change and Disaster

On April 18 2014, sixteen Sherpas were killed by the accident on the perilous Khumbu icefall, the single deadliest disaster on the world's highest mountain. This sudden ice avalanche at the top of the planet has arisen a question of whether climate change is to blame or not.

The extreme weather events like the Everest Avalanche, with increasing magnitude and less occurring days well indicate that climate change is real. But to find out whether this change is inevitable or not, it is necessary to assess various parameters such as greenhouse gas emission, land use, forestry, snow depth and other critical factors. Once this assessment is done it is necessary to design possible mitigation measures and if climate change is inevitable, then the survival of humanity is dependent on timely and intelligent adaptation to change. Whether its assessment, mitigation or adaptation, it’s in the present context appropriate to make the use of technology and in addressing the issues like climate change, use of Geospatial Technology will provide reliable assistance.

Nepal is making only a minimal use of Geospatial technology such as GIS, Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry to address climate change. Geospatial Science should be taken as an important tool in scoping and monitoring climate change impacts. For instance, during monsoon every year, the Mahakali river in the west and Koshi in the east inundate many lives and properties. GIS can play an important role not only in depicting the flood-prone areas and making the early warning system more reliable and effective but also assessing the disaster after the flood event. Highlighting areas that are vulnerable to flooding will help decision makers to take preventive action that will ultimately decrease casualties.

For more than a decade we have been saying that Nepal’s contribution to global Greenhouse gas emission is only 0.025%. Cross-examining the past and present data using Geospatial technology can help quantify changes and predict pattern and trends that could impact climate.

Nepal is at high risk of GLOF. Due to the expanding nature of Glacier Lake like Cho- Rolpa and Imja, no one can easily predict when these lakes are going to burst. However, mapping these lakes and the larger glacier will help to estimate the rate of their expansion and displacement of moraine dams. The use of Geospatial science will help in measuring ice thickness in a melting glacier and highlight the vulnerable settlements and infrastructure downstream that will help concerned authorities to take preventive measures.

Nepal has a huge potential in Carbon Trading. Though it’s a long and complicated process developing countries like Nepal can benefit a lot. The use of GIS will play a significant role in the forest carbon monitoring system. Moreover, it will provide a reliable assistance on deforestation analysis and track the effects of drought.

The complex issues posed by climate change can only be understood by the careful observation of data and application of modern technologies. Since the impacts of climate change are observed first at a local level, technological innovation for climate mitigation and adaptation should begin locally sharing the information globally.