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Experience with a Hard and Soft Participatory Modeling Framework for Social-Ecological System Management in Mt Everest (Nepal) and K2 (Pakistan) Protected Areas

High mountains have sensitive social-ecological systems (SESs) characterized by fragility, complexity, and marginality. The local economies of these environments mainly rely on primary production, tourism, and leisure activities; thus human–ecosystem interactions are intricately linked. Many authors stress that this strict relationship must be assisted with a participatory approach involving interested stakeholders in the conceptualization, specification, and synthesis of knowledge and experience into useable information for the express purpose of addressing a problem complex. This paper presents experience garnered with a participatory modeling framework combining hard and soft methodology in 2 case studies: the Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone (Nepal) and the Central Karakoram National Park (Pakistan). The modeling framework was developed based on local stakeholders' demands and needs; it consists of 5 modules, briefly presented here along with their conceptual background. In developing the framework, particular emphasis was given to considering the needs of decision-makers at the local level, rather than simply providing technical solutions to abstract problems. From the development of this modeling process, a need emerged to structure a management-oriented research module in order to generate management knowledge that is both stakeholder-relevant and evidence-based. The application of the framework in the 2 cases studies showed that the modeling can trigger valuable discussion among stakeholders as well as guidance for management-oriented research and feedback loops ensuring validation of knowledge. In addition, the resulting scenarios can help decision-makers in defining pathways for sustainable development in mountain areas, where people's livelihoods are closely dependent on ecosystems. The framework was developed in such a way that it can be replicated in other mountain areas with similar challenges.

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Supplemental material for “Experience with a hard and soft participatory modeling framework for social-ecological system management in Mt Everest (Nepal) and K2 (Pakistan) protected areas”

High mountains have sensitive social-ecological systems (SESs) characterized by fragility, complexity, and marginality. The local economies of these environments mainly rely on primary production, tourism, and leisure activities; thus human–ecosystem interactions are intricately linked. Many authors stress that this strict relationship must be assisted with a participatory approach involving interested stakeholders in the conceptualization, specification, and synthesis of knowledge and experience into useable information for the express purpose of addressing a problem complex. This paper presents experience garnered with a participatory modeling framework combining hard and soft methodology in 2 case studies: the Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone (Nepal) and the Central Karakoram National Park (Pakistan). The modeling framework was developed based on local stakeholders' demands and needs; it consists of 5 modules, briefly presented here along with their conceptual background. In developing the framework, particular emphasis was given to considering the needs of decision-makers at the local level, rather than simply providing technical solutions to abstract problems. From the development of this modeling process, a need emerged to structure a management-oriented research module in order to generate management knowledge that is both stakeholder-relevant and evidence-based. The application of the framework in the 2 cases studies showed that the modeling can trigger valuable discussion among stakeholders as well as guidance for management-oriented research and feedback loops ensuring validation of knowledge. In addition, the resulting scenarios can help decision-makers in defining pathways for sustainable development in mountain areas, where people's livelihoods are closely dependent on ecosystems. The framework was developed in such a way that it can be replicated in other mountain areas with similar challenges.

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Methodologies and Tools for the Management of Mountain Protected Areas: Mount Everest (Nepal, China) and K2 (Pakistan) Regions

Special Issue: Methodologies and Tools for the Management of Mountain Protected Areas: Mount Everest (Nepal, China) and K2 (Pakistan) Regions.

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An Integrated Decision Support Toolbox (DST) for the Management of Mountain Protected Areas

New tools and methodologies are required in systemic planning and management of mountain protected areas. Among others we propose here a decision support toolbox (DST) conceived as an integrated collection of both soft and hard system methodologies, consisting of participatory and computer-based modules to provide a set of integrated, self-contained tools and approaches to support decision-making processes in the management of mountain protected areas. The Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone (SNPBZ) in Nepal was taken as a pilot case. A number of participatory exercises such as participatory 3-dimensional modeling, scenario planning, and qualitative modeling were carried out to understand social-ecological processes and generate a systemic view over space and time. The qualitative models were then converted into computer-based system dynamics models. The design and development of DST software were carried out with an incremental and modular approach. This process involved stakeholder analysis and decision-making processes through a series of consultations. The software was developed with the main modules including scenario analysis, spatial analysis, and knowledge base. The scenario analysis module runs system dynamics models built in Simile software and provides functions to link them with spatial data for model inputs and outputs. The spatial analysis module provides the basic geographic information system functions to explore, edit, analyze, and visualize spatial information. The knowledge base module was developed as a metadata management system for different categories of information such as spatial data, bibliography, research data, and models. The development of DST software, especially system dynamics modeling and its linkage with spatial components, provided an important methodological approach for spatial and temporal integration. Furthermore, training and interactions with park managers and concerned stakeholders showed that DST is a useful platform for integrating data and information and better understanding ecosystem behavior as a basis for management decisions.

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Verification of numerical model forecasts of precipitation and satellite-derived rainfall estimates over the Indian region: monsoon 2004

This work describes the preliminary results of a study aimed at: (1) assessing the ability of a general circulation model routinely run at the Epson Meteo Centre (CEM) in predicting daily rainfall; (2) evaluating the performance of satellite-derived precipitation estimates (namely, NOAA CPC CMORPH) over the same domain and during the same period. The CPC daily rain gauge analysis is used as reference for validation. The study focused on the Indian Monsoon during summer 2004, and comparison with a similar analysis at the mid-latitudes is also shown.

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Glaciological characteristics of the ablation zone of Baltoro glacier, Karakoram, Pakistan

Baltoro glacier in the Karakoram, Pakistan, is one of the world’s largest valley glaciers. It drains an area of about 1500km2 and is >60km long. In 2004 an Italian/German expedition carried out a glaciological field program on the ablation zone of the glacier, focusing on the ablation conditions and the dynamic state of the glacier. As Baltoro glacier is a debris-covered glacier, ice ablation also depends on the debris properties. Stake measurements of ice ablation and debris cover in combination with meteorological data from automatic weather stations close by have been used to determine the local melt conditions. Results from these calculations have been combined with an analysis of different classes of surface cover and information about precipitation, using remote-sensing techniques, in order to calculate mass fluxes for the upper part of Baltoro glacier. The dynamic state of the glacier has been investigated by GPS-based surface velocity measurements along the stake network. A comparison of these short-term measurements during the melt season with surface velocities computed from feature tracking of satellite images shows a high seasonal variability of the ice motion. We have shown that this variability is up to 100% of the annual mean velocity. On the basis of these investigations, the mass fluxes at the Concordia cross-section have been quantified. This approach can now be used together with the ablation calculations to reconstruct the variability of glacier extent and volume in the past using available climate data from the central Karakoram. From the comparison of historical measurements and photographs it is shown that the snout of Baltoro glacier is oscillating back and forth a couple of hundred metres. Otherwise it seems not to react with the same magnitude as other glaciers to the climatic change. Elevation changes at Concordia are a few tens of metres at the most

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The ABC-Pyramid: a scientific laboratory at 5079 m a.s.l. for the study of atmospheric composition change and climate

The Himalayan–Karakoram range is located in one of the most densely populated and very rapidly developing world areas. Monitoring of atmospheric composition in this area can play a relevant role in evaluating the background conditions of the free troposphere and quantifying the pollution present at high altitudes, as well as in studying regional and long-range transport phenomena. Due to technical and logistic difficulties in carrying out measurements at high altitude in the Himalaya, no systematic observations of atmospheric constituents are available for this area. Thus, a new measurement station in such a region represents a unique source of data, able to make up for the prior lack of this information. For these reasons, in the framework of the SHARE-Asia and ABC projects, a remote monitoring station, the ABC-Pyramid Laboratory, will be installed in the Khumbu valley near Mt. Everst at 5079 m a.s.l. Continuous in situ measurements of chemical, physical and optical properties of aerosol, surface ozone concentration, as well as non-continuous measurements of halocarbons and other greenhouse-gas concentrations will be carried out. This monitoring station was projected, realised and tested in Bologna at CNR-ISAC Institute during autumn 2005. It was designed to be controlled by remote login and to operate for the long-term in extremely adverse weather conditions. This station represents an ideal place for studying regional and long-range air mass transport, due to natural and human processes. Precious 5-day forecast information about air-masses circulation at the ABC-Pyramid site will be supplied daily by Lagrangian backward trajectories, including suitable forecasts of stratosphere-troposphere exchange phenomena.

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The Lung at high altitude: between physiology and pathology in Problems of high altitude medicine and biology

The lungs play a pivotal role in adaptation to high altitude. The increase in ventilation and the rise in pulmonary artery pressure are the first features of lung response to hypoxic exposure. At high altitude the lungs can also be affected by high-altitude pulmonary oedema, a severe form of acute mountain sickness. In healthy subjects the ascent to high altitude is also associated with alterations in lung function, which have been in part interpreted as an effect of extra vascular lung fluid accumulation. The patterns of respiratory function changes at high altitude are discussed, taking into account the body fluid movement and the increase in endothelial permeability induced by hypoxic exposure. As the problem of “respiratory” patients at high altitude is very important, a short summary of the guidelines for altitude exposure of asthmatic and COPD patients is reported at the end of the chapter.

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Relationship between individual ventilatory response and acute renal water excretion at high altitude

We tested the hypothesis that the individual ventilatory adaptation to high altitude (HA, 5050 m) may influence renal water excretion in response to water loading. In 8 healthy humans (33+/-4 S.D. years) we studied, at sea level (SL) and at HA, resting ventilation (VE), arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2), urinary output after water loading (WL, 20 mL/kg), and total body water (TBW). Ventilatory response to HA was defined as the difference in resting VE over SpO2 (DeltaVE/DeltaSpO2) from SL to HA. At HA, a significant increase in urinary volume after the first hour from WL (%WLt0-60) was observed. Significant correlations were found between DeltaVE/DeltaSpO2 versus %WLt0-60 at HA and versus changes in TBW, from SL to HA. In conclusion, in healthy subjects the ventilatory response to HA influences water balance and correlates with kidney response to WL. A higher ventilatory response at HA, allowing a more efficient water renal handling, is likely to be a protective mechanisms from altitude illness.

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