Amy Higgins

Advisor: Amity Doolittle


Warming temperatures have altered water availability in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, India, shortening the growing season. As climate change uncouples glacial melt cycles from the agricultural season, water is in increasingly short supply for farmers in the Himalaya, leading to difficult decisions about how many fields to plant and what to grow, as well as tensions with neighbors. A water harvesting strategy that diverts water into storage in colder mountain valleys in October and November for use in the water limited months of March and April has been developed and is in use in ten villages in the Himalaya. Villagers call these masses of ice “artificial glaciers”. Currently only anecdotal evidence of their value exists.

Research Objectives

The purpose of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of a water harvesting strategy and the possible impacts on agriculture in the Indian Himalayan region. By doing land use change detection on these remote valleys from ten years before the artificial glacier technique was implemented, and ten years after, I hope to quantify changes in the amount of agricultural land under cultivation to better understand the impacts of the artificial glacier on the villages nearby.  

Research Questions