Spatiotemporal quantification of key environmental changes in Stok and Kang Yatze regions of Ladakh Himalaya, India

Mohd Soheb*, Alagappan Ramanathan, Anshuman Bhardwaj, Lydia Sam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Tourism fuelled economic transformation of Ladakh region is bringing a change in demography and livelihood preferences leading to increased exploitation of scarce natural resources. In addition to the nerve centre of tourism-related activities (Leh city), rural hinterlands of Ladakh are also witnessing a stark transformation in land and resource use patterns. In this study, we quantified and assessed the changes in key environmental parameters of rural Ladakh between 1969 and 2020. We observed a decrease in glacier area, glacier volume and vegetation cover by approximately 19%, 13% and 14%, whereas built-up and lake area increased by approximately 238% and 122%, respectively. Simultaneously, local population of the region doubled while tourism footprint increased by approximately 620-folds. The study highlights the environmental changes happening at a higher rate in rural regions around Leh city. Therefore, need of the hour is to recognize the disruptive changes being brought in the traditional way of life and to devise strategies to reorient the development paradigm towards sustainable resource use and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11509–11533
Number of pages25
JournalGeocarto International
Issue number26
Early online date12 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank USGS for Corona and Landsat imageries, for PlanetScope imagery, NASA for ASTER DEM and The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for ERA5 reanalysis temperature and precipitation data. We are grateful to Ms. Prerna Joshi for the insights and help in this study. AB acknowledges support from Swedish Research Council (Grant 2017-05435) for his research in Ladakh region. The authors are also thankful to the editor, scientific editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their critical review of the manuscript.


  • climate change
  • environment
  • glacier
  • Himalaya
  • Ladakh
  • tourism


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