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Recent warming and its risk assessment on ecological and societal implications in Nepal



A predominantly mountainous country Nepal has a complex climatic pattern that varies from tropical in the south (Terai region) to arctic in the north (Himalayas). The gradual rise in temperature in the mountainous region has attracted great interest among the scientific community in general over recent years. However, recent warming in Nepal’s east-west and south-north temperature gradients and its implications for ecology and society based on facts and figures are still lacking. In this context, temperature data (1970–2016) of 76 meteorological stations from the Terai region to the Mountains were used in this study to analyze the annual and seasonal warming trends in the different physiographic regions of Nepal. We performed a hybrid analytical approach i.e. integrated statistical and theoretical tools to detect the warming trend and its ecological and societal implications across the country. The Eastern part of the country was found to be more warming than the Central and Western parts, showing an increased climatic sensitivity across the Khumbu (Mt. Everest region). The increasing trends of temperature have been found in all physiographic regions along an altitude gradient, i.e. Terai, Siwaliks, Lower Hills, and Upper Hills observed 0.15, 0.26, 0.68, and 0.57 °C per decade, respectively. Higher warming trend in Lower Hills than the Upper Hills showed that higher elevations experienced lesser degrees of warming trends than the lower elevations in the mountainous regions. Further, a higher warming trend was observed in the winter season than the other seasons in all regions except for Terai. Based on the warming trends in different physiographic regions, we also found a similar pattern of ecological impacts, where a higher warming region also experienced higher ecological impacts such as changes in water resources, phenology, etc. Lower Hills, Upper Hills, and Mountains experienced higher adverse impacts than the Terai and Siwaliks in the current global warming scenarios.