New Publication | Adaptation Action and Research in Glaciated Mountain Systems
rhone glacier 522968 1920What’s going on with climate change adaptation in glaciated mountain regions? Is it enough to meet the challenge of climate change? Find out in this new paper in Global Environmental Change.

A new study develops a typology of the challenge of climate change in glaciated mountain systems and uses formal systematic review methods to critically evaluate existing adaptation actions and research in light of this framework. 

ABSTRACT
The challenge of climate change in glaciated mountain systems is significant and cannot be met without adaptation actions and research that addresses the interwoven scientific, human, and socio-ecological dimensions of climate change. However, our understanding of the effectiveness of existing efforts in meeting this challenge is lacking, a shortcoming compounded by a lack of consistent and comparable information about adaptation action and research in glaciated mountain systems. This study develops a typology of the challenge of climate change in glaciated mountain systems and uses formal systematic review methods to critically evaluate existing adaptation actions and research in light of this framework. The results––based on an evaluation of 170 English-language peer-reviewed and grey literature documents––indicate that socially-relevant climate-related changes are already manifesting in glaciated mountain systems, with the most commonly documented stimuli for adaptation being hydrological changes related to the degradation of the high mountain cryosphere. Some degree of adaptation action has occurred in 78% of countries with glaciated mountain ranges, but most adaptations are reactions to experienced climatic stimuli and carried out without guidance from a formal adaptation plan. The study also identified the emergence of explicitly mountain-focused adaptation research, yet studies framed in this way are still relatively scarce and have only been carried out in about half of the countries with glaciated mountain ranges. Although several laudable adaptation action and research efforts are documented, the study highlights that few initiatives are adequately addressing the difficulties outlined in its evaluation framework for the challenge of climate change. The study discusses the consequences of observed shortcomings and identifies recommendations for more fully meeting the challenge of climate change in glaciated mountain systems.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Develops a typology for the challenge of climate change in glaciated mountain systems.
  • Characterizes the state of adaptation action and research in glaciated mountains systems.
  • Identifies an emerging sub-field of mountain-focused adaptation research.
  • Highlights the nature and consequences of shortcomings in adaptation action and research.
  • Discusses measures necessary to more fully meet the challenge of climate change.
  • Raises the profile of glaciated mountain systems in global environmental change research.
READ MORE
McDowell, G., Huggel, C., Frey, H., Wang, F., Cramer, K., Ricciardi, V. (2019). 'Adaptation action and research in glaciated mountain systems: Are they enough to meet the challenge of climate change?' Global Environmental Change 54: 19-30. (Open access until 9 January).