Understanding factors influencing hydro-climatic risk and human vulnerability: Application of systems thinking in the Himalayan Region

Gourav Misra, Harekrishna Misra, Christopher A. Scott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The Uttarakhand flash floods of 2013 have been dubbed as the “Himalayan Tsunami”. The region has been subjected to severe changes in its high-mountain glacial environment. The risk of disasters striking this region has therefore considerably increased in recent times because of the increased human activities and unplanned urbanization, which along with changing climate affects the fragile social-ecological system (SES) in the region. This chapter deals with the study of the SES wellbeing in the Himalayas in light of the 2013 Uttarakhand disaster with focus on the drivers and the interrelationships among them. Systems thinking (ST) is the foundation of the proposed framework for this case study. Application of ST principles provides insights to the way environment has been responding to the stimuli. ST approaches provided the scope to confirm that drivers and dimensions like population, anthropogenic induced disturbances (deforestation and hydel projects) and education (disaster preparedness) need to be given priorities for addressing the challenges. The case of Uttarakhand in India indicates that the systemic behaviour for measuring SES wellbeing can be measured through standard dimensions. However, systematic behaviour analysed through events and pattern analyses, causal-loop diagrams and circular referencing loops provided deeper insights that have differently influenced this systemic behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClimate Change, Glacier Response, and Vegetation Dynamics in the Himalaya
Subtitle of host publicationContributions Toward Future Earth Initiatives
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319289779
ISBN (Print)9783319289755
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Disaster
  • Social-ecological system (SES) wellbeing
  • Systems thinking
  • Vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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