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5 The Emergence of the Cryoscape: Contested Narratives of Himalayan Glacier Dynamics and Climate Change

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Chapter Summary

Glaciers stand at the intersection of multiple strands of environmental knowledge: scientific, cultural, temporal, spatial and political. In the context of threatened Himalayan glaciers, it has become more important than ever to focus on the ways in which human perceptions about global environmental change, as well as possible strategies to deal with it are shaped. Although reasons for the wide resonance of the phenomenon of glacier retreat are many, Orlove et al. identify two as the most important. The first attribute of glaciers that makes them easily imaginable is their visibility. The second important attribute is susceptibility of glaciers to cultural framing. The spread of imagined cryoscapes points to the iconic role of glaciers in communicating diffuse threats like global warming. In this sense the cryosphere is something that is affected by human actions, but exists independently from it. "The ice-free Himalaya" is a very powerful icon of global warming.

Keywords: cryoscapes; cryosphere; global warming; Himalayan glacier



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