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Lived experiences of ‘peak water’ in the high mountains of Nepal and Peru


McDowell, Graham; Koppes, Michele; Harris, Leila; Chan, Kai M A; Price, Martin F; Lama, Dhawa G; Jiménez, Gladys (2022). Lived experiences of ‘peak water’ in the high mountains of Nepal and Peru. Climate and Development, 14(3):268-281.

Abstract

Peak water describes the hydrological response of glacier-fed rivers to climate change, indicating that warming first drives increasing discharge until a glacier mass loss threshold is surpassed and discharge falls below values observed prior to contemporary climate warming. Although the physical principles of peak water are well understood and accepted, there remains little empirical work evaluating how hydrological dynamics associated with peak water are experienced by residents of high mountain communities at the frontlines of glacial change. In response, this study—drawing on 160 household interviews, 34 key informant interviews, and 4 focus groups—uses a contextual vulnerability approach to characterize lived experiences of peak water in communities of the upper Manaslu region of the Nepal Himalaya and the Cordillera Huayhuash region of the Peruvian Andes. It problematizes characteristics of vulnerability postulated in the glacio-hydrological modelling literature by revealing unanticipated experiences of peak water dynamics on both the rising and falling limb of the peak water profile. The study complements existing glacio-hydrology literature, demonstrates the importance of social theoretical perspectives in the evaluation of human vulnerability to peak water, and provides insights that can help appropriately target scarce adaptation resources.

Abstract

Peak water describes the hydrological response of glacier-fed rivers to climate change, indicating that warming first drives increasing discharge until a glacier mass loss threshold is surpassed and discharge falls below values observed prior to contemporary climate warming. Although the physical principles of peak water are well understood and accepted, there remains little empirical work evaluating how hydrological dynamics associated with peak water are experienced by residents of high mountain communities at the frontlines of glacial change. In response, this study—drawing on 160 household interviews, 34 key informant interviews, and 4 focus groups—uses a contextual vulnerability approach to characterize lived experiences of peak water in communities of the upper Manaslu region of the Nepal Himalaya and the Cordillera Huayhuash region of the Peruvian Andes. It problematizes characteristics of vulnerability postulated in the glacio-hydrological modelling literature by revealing unanticipated experiences of peak water dynamics on both the rising and falling limb of the peak water profile. The study complements existing glacio-hydrology literature, demonstrates the importance of social theoretical perspectives in the evaluation of human vulnerability to peak water, and provides insights that can help appropriately target scarce adaptation resources.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Global and Planetary Change
Social Sciences & Humanities > Geography, Planning and Development
Social Sciences & Humanities > Development
Uncontrolled Keywords:Development, Geography, Planning and Development, Global and Planetary Change
Language:English
Date:16 March 2022
Deposited On:17 Oct 2022 09:43
Last Modified:27 Apr 2024 01:40
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1756-5529
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/17565529.2021.1913085
Project Information:
  • : FunderLiu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia
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  • : FunderPublic Scholars Initiative, University of British Columbia
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  • : FunderInstitute for Asian Research, University of British Columbia
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  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)