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'Himalaya -- Changing Landscapes' photo exhibition

October 13, 2008

Fundación BBVA
October 10, 2008
Public release date: 10-Oct-2008
Contact: Javier Fernándezm, comunicacion@fbbva.es
34-915-376-615
Fundación BBVA

'Himalaya -- Changing Landscapes' photo exhibition draws attention to
the impacts of climate change
The large outdoor exhibition by the International Centre for
Integrated Mountain Development and BBVA Foundation is currently on
show at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2008 in Barcelona

During the 1950s, Austrian and Swiss scientists conducted intensive
studies of the Everest region in Nepal taking photographs of the
glaciers, mountains and valleys. Around the same time, the Swiss
glaciologist Fritz Müller spent eight months in the region at
locations above 5000 metres, studying and photographing the Himalayan glaciers.

Now, fifty years later, the black and white photographs taken by
these scientists are of immense value in trying to understand the
impacts of climate change on the world's highest mountain range, the
Himalayas. Mountain geographer Alton Byers has revisited many of the
sites of the original photographs and taken replicates, illustrating
the changes in the landscape. The old and new photographs have now
been united in a unique photo exhibition: 'Himalaya – Changing
Landscapes', currently on show at the IUCN World Conservation
Congress in Barcelona. The exhibition is part of the 25th Anniversary
celebrations for ICIMOD and has been organised in partnership with
the BBVA Foundation.

"Only five decades have passed between the old and the new
photographs and the changes are dramatic. Many small glaciers at low
altitudes have disappeared entirely and many larger ones have lost
around half of their volume. Some have formed huge glacial lakes at
the foot of the glacier, threatening downstream communities in case
of an outburst", says Byers.

The Himalaya -- Changing Landscapes photo exhibition aims to raise
awareness of the impact of climate change and of the new challenges
facing the mountain people. The stunning repeat panorama views of
mountains and glaciers are accompanied by images of the Himalayan
people and their stories, as well as photographs of the scientists
conducting glacier research in the 1950s. The four-metre long photo
panels making up the exhibition are located outside the Barcelona
International Convention Centre, and entrance is free for conference
participants and the general public alike.

Climate change is affecting people around the globe, and this is
especially evident at the top of the world around Mount Everest and
the high peaks of the Himalayan mountain range. The greater Himalayan
region has the largest concentration of snow and ice outside the two
poles. Warming temperatures cause rapid melting of the glaciers,
severely affecting the people downstream. Ten river systems
originating in the Himalayas bring water to a mountain population of
around 200 million, while the vast water basins downstream are home
to a further 1.3 billion people. In total 1.5 billion people – a
fifth of the world's population - depend on the Himalayan rivers for
their water supply.

The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region is the highest, most complex mountain
region in the world. It extends more than 3500km over eight
countries, from Afghanistan in the north-west to Myanmar in the
south-east. The area ranges from the high plateau of Tibet and other
mountain areas of China to the Ganges Basin in India, and has the
upland watersheds of the ten major Asian river systems.

Warming in the Himalayan region has been much greater than the global
average. Weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable and extreme
– dry seasons become dryer and wet seasons wetter. This phenomenon is
causing concern over the long-term reduction in total water supply,
affecting the lives and livelihoods of the Himalayan people,
especially in agriculture practices and long-term food security.

In the words of Dr. Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD; "What
we see here at the Himalaya photo exhibition is just the tip of the
iceberg. The changes taking place are alarming, and the time to act
is now. Scientific evidence shows that the effects of globalisation
and climate change are being felt in even the most remote Himalayan
environments. While climate change is mostly caused by the highly
industrialised parts of the world, the effects are taking their toll
in the sensitive mountain areas. The signs are visible, but the
in-depth knowledge and data from the Himalayan region is largely
missing. Global measures of scientific co-operation and regional
collaboration are needed to reduce this information gap. What happens
in this remote mountain region is a serious concern for the whole world".

###

The Himalaya -- Changing Landscapes photo exhibition was first
unveiled in a customised format at the Mt. Everest Base Camp (5300m)
in April 2008, making it the highest photo exhibition in the world.
After Barcelona the exhibition will travel to Kathmandu for ICIMOD's
25th Anniversary celebrations. For future exhibition dates and
locations please see www.changing-landscapes.com

HIMALAYA -- CHANGING LANDSCAPES
Barcelona International Convention Center (CCIB)
Rambla Prim 1-17. BARCELONA
5-14 October 2008, 10am - 7pm.
Free entrance
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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