Current projects

A pilot approach for locally validated permafrost distribution modelling and initiation of long-term monitoring: Langtang region, Nepal

Funding:

SERI, State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation

GIUZ PI:

S. Allen

Project PIs:

S. Allen J. Fiddes

GIUZ Staff:

S. Allen, J. Müller

Keywords:

Climate change, permafrost, impacts, capacity building, Himalaya

Geographic focus:

Langtang Valley, Nepal
Recognising that permafrost thawing could strongly affect regional livelihoods, infrastructure and economies across the Himalaya, our study seeks to derive a first validated estimate of permafrost distribution in a pilot region, with a view towards large-scale upscaling. This work will provide a basis for establishing a long-term permafrost monitoring site, and will ensure local scientific capacities are strengthened.

Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP)

Funding:

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

GIUZ PI:

C. Huggel

Project PIs:

M. Stoffel

GIUZ Staff:

S. Allen, A. Linsbauer

Keywords:

Hazards, Risk, Climate, Adaptation, Education
Links: http://www.ihcap.in/

Geographic focus:

Kullu District, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India  
The IHCAP builds on capacity and knowledge enhancement related to three pillars; 1) Scientific and technical knowledge cooperation between Indian and Swiss scientific institutions, 2) Strengthening Institutions for adaptation measures among vulnerable communities, 3) Mainstreaming adaptation policies for improved action in the Indian Himalayan Region.

Flood risk in Uttarakhand, India: learning from the 2013 disaster and anticipating emerging threats

Funding:

SERI, State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation

GIUZ PI:

S. Allen

Project PIs:

S. Allen, S. Mal

GIUZ Staff

S. Allen, A. Holzbecher (MSc student)

Keywords:

Flood, hazard, vulnerability, exposure, disaster

Geographic focus:

Uttarakhand, Northern India

Understanding and key findings from this study of the 2013 disaster will inform future measures to reduce the risk from emerging flood related threats, not only in Uttarakhand, but more broadly throughout the monsoon affected Himalayan states of India.

 

Climate Change Adaptation Programme Peru (PACC)

Funding:

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC

GIUZ PI:

C.Huggel

Project PIs:

N. Salzmann

GIUZ Staff

B. Orlowsky, J. Baiker, C. Jurt, L. Vicuna, V. Muccione

Keywords:

Climate change adaptation, food security, water resources, Andes in Peru, capacitiy building

links

http://paccperu.org.pe

http://eclim-research.ch/pacc

Geographic focus:

Peru, Latin America

In response to the high vulnerability of Peru’s Andes region to climate change the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in collaboration with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment has initiated a programme on climate change adaptation (PACC – Programa de Adaptación al Cambio Climático) in the Cusco and Apurimac regions of the Peruvian Andes.

The PACC is implemented by a consortium led by Intercooperation, supported by Universities in Peru, and a Swiss scientific consortium, that includes Meteodat, Agroscope, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL-SLF, the University of Geneva, and is led by the University of Zurich.
The programme focuses on three main thematic lines which are water resources, food security and natural disasters. The themes are transversal implying important cross-sector effects. The human dimension is integrated in this concept to allow for a more complete view on vulnerabilities to climate change.

The interdisciplinary and multi-actor environment of the PACC represents both its strength and complexity. The PACC is a major opportunity to improve the dialogue between the scientific community, implementing agencies, and the political sphere to find more sustainable mechanisms of climate change adaptation.
The Swiss scientific consortium supports the Peruvian Universities in data analysis, climate model and scenario development, climate impact and vulnerability assessments in the different thematic fields, in climate change monitoring and information systems, and in teaching courses at the academic level.

 

Proyecto Glaciares+ (Glacier Project), Peru (2015-2018)

Funding:

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC/DEZA)

GIUZ PI:

C.Huggel

Project PIs:

C. Huggel, K. Price

GIUZ Staff

C. Huggel, H. Frey, F. Drenkhan, S. Schauwecker, L. Barriga, R. Muñoz

Keywords:

Tropical Andes Peru, glacier shrinkage, hydrological risks, climate change adaptation, water balance

links

http://www.proyectoglaciares.pe/

http://eclim-research.ch/glaciares

Geographic focus:

Santa River catchment, Cordillera Blanca
Cañete River catchment, Cordillera Central
Vilcanota-Urubamba River catchment, Cordillera Vilcanota-Urubamba

Based on the success and lessons learnt from the first phase, a second phase of the project is now conducted from 2015 to 2018. Efforts on risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the intervention zones of Ancash and Cusco and now also the Cañete basin just south of Lima, are continued and an additional focus is drawn on opportunities provided by glacier changes for energy production, tourism, and agriculture. Besides the continuation of capacity building activities and efforts for strengthening public institutions, collaborations with the private sector, namely regarding hydropower production, are sought.

The project consists of a Peruvian part, coordinated by the NGO CARE Peru, and including local, regional and national authorities, and of a Swiss part (Swiss consortium ECS) led by the University of Zurich, and including Créalp, Meteodat GmbH, and EPFL. The expertise of the Swiss consortium is complemented by a pool of international experts in fields related to the project activities, which take over specific tasks according the needs of the project. Both parts, the Swiss consortium and CARE, strictly collaborate in accordance with a master activity plan to efficiently achieve the main objectives.

 

Integrated Water Resources Modeling: Future Risks and Adaptation Strategies - a case study in the Andes of Peru

Funding:

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)

GIUZ PI:

C.Huggel

Project PIs:

C. Huggel

GIUZ Staff

A. Motschmann, C. Huggel, F. Drenkhan

Keywords:

Risks, climate change, water resources

links

 

Geographic focus:

Peru/South America

Water resources in high mountains play a fundamental role for societies and ecosystems. A growing number of studies assesses recent and future impacts in snow and ice related river runoff due to climate change and socioeconomic shifts in major mountain ranges and adjacent downstream areas. In parallel, scholars, engineers and decision-makers have come up with adaptation strategies to reduce existing and projected water supply-demand deficits. The recently published 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC has emphasized the fundamental importance of the risk-adaptation nexus for the development of adaptation strategies to reduce and manage future climate risks. However, comprehensive analyses of risks related to water resources considering climate change within multi-dimensional drivers across different scales are complex and often missing in climate sensitive mountain regions where data scarcity represents important limitations.
This collaborative project will address this challenge by combining internationally leading expertise from geographical (GIUZ, University of Zurich), hydrological (IWS, University of Stuttgart) and social sciences (ZIRIUS, University of Stuttgart). This research, conducted in strong collaboration with local partners, focuses on the highly glaciated Santa and Vilcanota river basins in Peru, extending from the Andes to dry coastal downstream areas where water risks are of highest relevance. It proposes the coupling of hydro-climatic (water supply) and socioeconomic (water demand) data in an integrated water balance modelling framework, as a basis to develop scenarios for the future with local stakeholders, and iteratively analyse water risks and adaptation strategies based on the IPCC and IRGC risk governance frameworks.
The project addresses several key scientific gaps related to the analysis of current and future water risks in data-scarce mountain regions. The innovation of the approach lies in the combination of climate spatio-temporal interpolation and downscaling methods, participatory scenario development, new applications of integrated hydrological modeling, and stakeholder borne analysis and evaluation of risks and adaptation options. Methodologies and conceptual approaches can be transferred to other regions with similar water risks and sparse data.

Promoting Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change (SMD4GC)

Funding:

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC/DEZA)

Project PIs:

N. Salzmann, C. Huggel, S. Nussbaumer, V. Muccione, M. Zemp, M. Fischer

Keywords:

Sustainable mountain development, climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, glacier changes, capacity building

links

http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-14-00096.1

http://eclim-research.ch/smd4gc

Geographic focus:

Latin America, Africa, Central Asia, Hindu Kush Himalaya, Alps

Mountain regions are key contexts for sustainable global development because (1) mountains provide critical and indispensable goods and services to a significant proportion of humankind; and (2) mountains are among the most disadvantaged regions in a global perspective: they are among the regions with the highest poverty rates, and among those most vulnerable to global (climate) change and related risks, which exacerbates already existing challenges and increases the pressure on mountain people and resources. With the SMD4GC programme, support to sustainable mountain development (SMD) is provided to increase the resilience of the mountain population, which is increasingly vulnerable due to the ongoing global changes.

The overall goal of SMD4GC is to essentially contribute to SMD under uncertain changes in climatic, environmental and socio-economic conditions, focusing on poverty and risk reduction. The objectives are to launch (policy instruments for SMD at different levels by local, national and international stakeholders and decision makers, and to implement knowledge-based SMD activities. These objectives will be pursued by generating the following key outputs:

  • Raised awareness on SMD issues
  • Increased promotion of and support to SMD activities
  • Enhanced capacities for SMD knowledge generation
  • Improved access to SMD knowledge and know-how
  • Increased stakeholder capacity
  • Application of knowledge and know-how in pilot studies

Recent and future evolution of glacial lakes in China (EVOGLAC): Spatio-temporal diversity and hazard potential

Funding:

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)

Project PIs:

T. Bolch

GIUZ staff:

A. Linsbauer, S. Allen, J. Müller, O. King

Keywords:

Modelling, Remote sensing, Hazards, Glacier Lakes

Geographic focus:

China, Tibet, Himalaya
The disappearance of mountain glaciers and expansion of glacial lakes are amongst the most recognizable and dynamic impacts of climate warming. Such new lakes bring opportunities (e.g., hydropower, tourism) but also pose significant threats, due to the increasing potential for catastrophic Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs). This threat is most pronounced across high mountain Asia, where communities, transportation networks, and other vital infrastructure are exposed. This is particularly true for China, where many potentially dangerous lakes have been documented, and significant growth of these lakes has been noted over recent decades. In view of projected warming over the 21st century and continued retreat of glaciers, scientific attention has recently shifted beyond monitoring and assessment of the existing GLOF threat, towards the anticipation of where new, potentially problematic lakes will form in the future. Such lakes will most likely develop in bedrock depressions or overdeepenings in the exposed glacier bed, and as such, methods have been developed to model bed topography and thereby identify where these new lakes will form. However, a key limitation remains that timing of the emergence and future evolution of glacial lakes is generally unconstrained for data-scarce mountain regions. This represents a major scientific challenge, as local climatological, geomorphological, and topographic conditions will lead to significant diversity in lake evolution. In addition, integrated approaches are yet to be developed which consider the full range of triggering processes that contribute to GLOF hazard both now, and in the future. Highly transient factors include the stability of surrounding ice and rock walls, the thawing of ice-cored moraine dams, and changes in heavy precipitation, snowmelt and faster runoff that may be expected in some deglaciated catchments.The overall aim of the proposed study is to develop and implement a comprehensive methodological approach to investigate the recent and future evolution of glacial lakes and their related hazard potential in different climatological, geomorphological, and topographic settings. This will lead to improved understanding and prediction of lake formation, change in GLOF triggering processes, and change in hazard in downstream areas, as glaciers continue to retreat over the 21st century and beyond. The research methodology is centred on seven work packages which bring together the complementary strengths of the partner institutions in the fields of remote sensing based analyses of the cryosphere, GIS-based modelling, and GLOF hazard assessment. Within three contrasting study regions in Tibet, reconstruction of the recent (since ca. 1970) evolution of glacier thinning, retreat, and associated lake development will provide the basis for catchment-scale modelling of future changes. The integrated modelling approach will consider not only the expansion of existing lakes, but also the formation of new lakes in the exposed bed topography, and will investigate the corresponding increase in GLOF potential as key transient triggering processes evolve in a warmer climate. For selected critical lakes, both now, and in the future, complete lake outburst modelling will be undertaken, providing a quantitative basis for assessing the change in downstream hazard.The methodological approach will be optimised for outscaling to larger regions, recognising the urgent need for robust scientific information to support adaptation planning in response to the rapidly evolving GLOF threat across high mountain Asia. The exchange of knowledge between Swiss and Chinese institutions will ensure that local scientists are best positioned to lead ongoing monitoring programs and further research activities in the region.