Monsoon and climate history in Bhutan

Co-PIs: Kevin Anchukaitis, Edward Cook, and Paul Krusic

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The water resources in the Himalayan country of Bhutan depend largely on the Indian monsoon, one of the largest climatological features on Earth. Variability in the monsoon determines glacial snowpack as well as freshwater fluxes, important for both drinking water sources as well as hydropower development. Little is known about past changes in the monsoon in Bhutan and the relationship to such changes to regional temperature variability, as well as the impact on Himalayan terrestrial ecosystems. This project focuses on reconstructing monsoon strength and temperature from lake sediments collected from high elevation (4,000 m) lakes using molecular methods. With the support of WHOI's Ocean and Climate Change Institute, we will conduct preliminary fieldwork and coring at identified sites in 2014. We will work in collaboration with the Watershed Management Division of the Department of Forestry in Bhutan to identify key climate questions and assess the relationship between monsoon variability and forest ecosystems.
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(At right, project members and Bhutanese collaborators at the capital building in Thimpu)