MRI kicks off new phase with internal meeting in Bern
Newly appointed MRI Executive Director, Carolina Adler, recently convened a meeting in Bern with the MRI Chair and team of MRI Principle Investigators, to kick-off planning proceedings and mark a new phase for MRI as a service to the mountain research community. The meeting was held in early June at the MRI offices in Bern, focusing on the institutional set up of MRI under the Swiss Academies of Sciences, SCNAT, as well as the diverse number of MRI's projects and activities that have galvanised the mountain research community over the years. One of the key topics also covered, included the set up and relationships with existing regional networks within the MRI fold, and other global networks such as Future Earth, with a view towards coordinating efforts to continue to foster and connect with these networks, and connect to other existing networks in other regions that have relevance and importance for scientific research in mountain areas. Other topics covered included the work underway to conduct a review and audit to help redefine a new communications strategy for MRI, as well as specify a framework and tasks for a new work plan. Next steps in this planning phase, includes a meeting with the members of the MRI Science Leadership Council, who play a leading and important role in both strategic input and implementation for much of MRI work in the regions. All in all, these are busy but extremely exciting times for MRI and we look forward to sharing this progress during 2017.
MRI visits Brussels to meet with MRI Europe Leadership Group and Euromontana
Members of the MRI Europe Leadership Group recently convened a meeting in Brussels at the end of May, to galvanise interest within the mountain research community in Europe and continue efforts to promote mountain research for policy and practice in the European context. Joined by the current MRI Executive Director, Carolina Adler, the attendees also had the chance to revisit stated goals outlined in the Strategic Research Agenda: Mountains for Europe's Future, with a view towards strategic input to discussions and preparations for the next (9th) Framework Programme for research funding in Europe, most likely to cover the period 2021 – 2027. Many agreed actions were defined for follow up, including the establishment of a Network for European Mountain Research within the European association of mountain areas, Euromontana. For more information about the outcomes of this initial meeting, and other relevant information for interested parties to participate in these initiatives in Europe, are asked to contact MRI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From left to right: Tor Arnesen (Eastern Norway Research Institute, Norway); Thomas Scheurer (ICAS & ISCAR, Switzerland); Martin Price (Centre for Mountain Studies Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland); Evgenia Tsianou (MRI Europe officer), Carolina Adler (MRI Executive Director), and Bernat Claramount (University of Barcelona, Spain).Photo courtesy of Euromontana.
Ahead on the MRI agenda for mountain-related events in 2017 July: Inaugural lecture at the Himalayan University Consortium (HUC), at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in Kathmandu, Nepal. August: Presentation and participation at the International Forum on Social Sciences “Interdisciplinary dialogues on climate change, disasters and governance”, in Cusco, Peru. October: International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation’s (UIAA) General Assembly, Tehran, Iran. November: 15th Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2017 (SGM 2017), "Moving Boundaries", in Davos, Switzerland. December: Mountain Partnership’s high-level conference on mountains “Mountains under Pressure”, at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy.
The Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) promotes and coordinates global change research in mountain regions, and to achieve this goal, we are looking for an enthusiastic and skilled Communications Manager to join our team at the MRI’s Coordination Office, located at the University of Bern.
The special issue, with guest co-editors Carolina Adler (MRI), Christian Huggel (University of Zurich), Anne Nolin (Oregon State University) and Ben Orlove (Columbia University), will be published in the journal Regional Environmental Change (REC), focusing on the impacts of climate change on the high-mountain cryosphere and downstream regions as well as response to these impacts.
Through this special issue, we seek to highlight contributions from the mountain research community in providing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) assessment process with state-of-the-art knowledge and evidence for impacts and adaptation in mountain regions. For this reason, we strongly encourage the mountain research community to make their research known and accessible for this assessment process via this special issue. Paper proposals, as extended abstracts, are to be submitted to the guest editors by 1 August 2017.
Articles in MRD often relate to the climate change debate at the core of the IPCC process currently gearing up for the 6th Assessment Report. Two papers in this open issue offer contrasting positions: one is critical and advocates a stronger local perspective (on mismanagement of irrigation water and landslips in Pakistan), the other uses the global perspective to discover patterns (in a review of climate change impacts on ecosystem services). Other papers deal with maize diversity and poverty reduction in Guatemala, offer a new approach to assessing tap water recharge in Japan, present a method for measuring bark biomass in Nepal, and assess the habitat ecology of a profitable but endemic resource in Tibet.
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Climate change has global causes and effects. This conference addresses growing challenges and their consequences for fragile environments both in the high latitudes and high altitudes, focusing on the polar regions and the Alps. It brings together researches from natural and social sciences to facilitate dialogue among experts with the aim of comparing observations from these regions, tracing causal chains, and connecting the global and local scales of analysis. Problem-based issues such as biodiversity, urbanization, permafrost, health and risk management, structure the conference workshops.
The conference’s emphasis on links between local and global processes, as well as its interdisciplinary approach, also enable the promotion of academic and public awareness on the climate change mechanisms impacting familiar and distant locations.
Huss, M., Bookhagen, B., Huggel, C., Jacobsen, D., Bradley, R., Clague, J., Vuille, M., Buytaert, W., Cayan, D., Greenwood, G., Mark, B., Milner, A., Weingartner, R., and Winder, M. (2017): Towards mountains without permanent snow and ice. Earth's Future, 5, doi:10.1002/2016EF000514.
It’s easy to get lost in the maze of the international climate change negotiations. I attended the UNFCCC COP 13 in Nairobi, and nearly collapsed under the weight of all the acronyms. Here is a good summary of the key international climate change negotiation milestones, sourced from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Volume 12 Number 691. Monday, 8 May 2017, and linked to information sharing on the Bonn Climate Change Conference 8-18 May 2017 in Bonn, Germany.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNFCCC AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), which sets out a legal framework for stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 197 parties. In December 1997, delegates to COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a protocol to the UNFCCC that committed industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emissions reduction targets. These countries, known as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six GHGs by an average of 5% below 1990 levels in 2008-2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and now has 192 parties.
Dr Ian Little from the South African Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), seen below receiving his Whitley award from HRM Princess Ann, was one of the prestigious winners this year for his determined efforts to protect grasslands in South Africa. Ian is one of six individuals to have been awarded a share of the prize money worth £210,000, winning the Whitley Award donated by the Garfield Weston Foundation.
For any researcher, fieldwork is resource-intensive and, depending on the subject, may involve safety concerns. For ecologists, this often depends on the species under scrutiny. Many species are difficult, time-consuming and dangerous to observe, and well-trained fieldworkers expensive to employ. “Ecology would be much easier if we had better ways of observing species, and images taken by amateur and professional photographers, if geo-referenced, could be a rich source of ecological information,” says Thami Nkwanyane, communications officer for the University of Cape Town (UCT).
From October 5 to 8, 2017 in Kpalimé, Togo (West Africa), the 1st West Africa Mountain Forum will be organized by the Platform of Civil Society Organizations for the Safeguard of Mountains (PSM) in partnership with the Togolese Ministry of Environment and Forest Resources and the Mountain Partnership.
The main theme of the event is “The contribution of mountains to the development of the economy and the adaptation to climate changes” and aims to is to promote sustainability and environmental justice by urging Governments, Local decision makers, Traditional leaders and NGOs dealing with environmental protection, through lobbying and advocacy, to take into account the sustainable management of mountain ecosystems in their national development’s policies and action plans.