Climate change cannot be credited as reason for erratic snowfall

Snowing is becoming rare in many places in the country

Usually, when there is no snowing in places like Thimphu and Paro, it’s often climate change that is being blamed. However, experts say that it would be wrong or too early to underline climate change as the main reason if certain places do not get snow during the winter.

An engineer from the National Centre for Hydrology and Metrology (NCHM), Weather and Climate Services Division, Monju Subba said, “We cannot spot climate change for not receiving snowfall.”

Though the lower regions did not receive snowfall, she said there was as usual snowfall in higher altitudes.

“There is nothing unusual about it, we may receive in coming days and that will depend on climatic conditions,” she said, adding that the reason for not having snowfall in lower regions was due to the increased population in urban areas.

She added that the average temperature in the alpine region goes down to a minimum of -10°C and maximum to 3°C to 4°C, and that the temperature in Thimphu currently is around 7°C to 8°C.

Also, the Officiating Chief of the National Environment Commission (NEC), Tshering Tashi said to state the impact of climate change as the reason for irregular snowing, there should be a minimum of 30 years of recorded data but that is not the case in Bhutan.

“It could be due to extreme weather difference,” he added.

However, he said that the amount of snowfall we are getting in the last 30 years is declining.

“In winter, the snowfall we would get in higher altitudes is extremely thick, but that is not the case anymore,” Tshering Tashi said, adding that settlements occur mostly in the valley and with the use of more petroleum, it leads to the fusion of thermal immersion, which may contribute to climate change.

“The heat added might be contributing to it. If we look at the global temperature, 20 centi-watts is the hottest air temperature recorded,” he said.

Similarly, if we look at the environmental impact that a majority of people has been voicing such as the issue of drying of water resources, Tshering Tashi said they cannot say whether it is due to climate change as there might be other factors causing the issue.

He said there are many reasons for the delay of snowfall, but cannot say the particular reason for the change in weather pattern. “The change in climatic pattern gives us negative impact as well as positive impact as those places where the temperature for the cultivation of rice is not favorable can now be cultivated as well as new pest and diseases are also seen,” he said, adding that there is no proper research done to prove climate change as the reason for the occurrence of such changes.

Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu