Weather prediction using traditional knowledge in cold arid high altitude region
of Ladakh in India

Meena, Hari Mohan ; MANJUNATHA, BL ; Raghuvanshi, M S ; Verma, Archana ; Angchok, Dorjey ; Dorjay, Ngawang ; Spalbar, Enoch

Abstract

The Union territory of Ladakh in India is a cold arid high altitude region. The subsistence nature of agriculture being practiced (by majority of farmers) in the region is solely dependent on melted glacier water. The present study was undertaken in Leh district of Ladakh to identify, prioritize and understand the traditional knowledge (TK) used by the farming community for prediction of weather. The primary data were collected from 320 households from 20 villages in Leh district from 2015 to 2020. The primary data were aided and validated by Focused Group Discussions with key informants and stakeholders working in the region such as scientists from research institutions and officials from agriculture and line departments. Farmers used combination of indicators including behavioral changes of birds and animals, change in atmospheric events and inferences drawn from Lotho (almanac) to predict weather. Migration pattern of birds was the most ancient, common and widely prevalent TK used for prediction of onset and extent of snowfall and winter season by farmers. Building of nest by birds on poplar tree (Poplus sp.) at different heights and directions was used to predict temperatures in the forthcoming summer season. The duration of hibernation of Himalayan marmots (Marmota himalayana) was an indication of duration of snowfall and winter temperatures. Timing and extent of precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) was used to predict the distribution of snowfall and winter temperatures. Lotho was extensively used for planning agricultural operations till a decade ago. The farming community used different TK in totality to enhance the accuracy of weather prediction. It was found that improved connectivity of the region with the mainland, introduction of modern communication technologies and decreasing dependence on agriculture as a primary livelihood option (because of the emergence of non-farm based opportunities such as services and tourism) have made the use of TK less prevalent among young generation farmers. However, the majority of the farmers expressed the need for blending TK and modern science for addressing location-specific problems.


Keyword(s)

Leh-Ladakh, Lotho, Migration, Traditional knowledge, Weather prediction

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