Climate change is causing glaciers to retreat across much of the Himalaya, leading to a rapid shift of the vegetation cover to higher altitudes. However, the rate of vegetation shift with respect to glacier retreat, climate change, and topographic parameters is not empirically quantified. Using remote sensing measurements, we estimate (a) the rate of glacier-ice mass loss, (b) the upward vegeta- tion line shift rate, (c) regional greening trends, and (d) a relationship between the factors influencing the greenness of the landscape and vegetation change in the Himalaya. We find that the glacier mass loss rate is 10.9 ± 1.2 Gt/yr and the mean vegetation line shifts upward in altitude by 7–28 ± 1.5 m/yr. Considering the land use/land cover change pattern, the grassland area is found to be expanding the most, particularly in the de-glaciated regions. The vegetation change is found to be controlled by soil moisture and slope of the area.
Bandyopadhyay (2022), Environmental Monitoring and Assessment