New Publication

Changes to alpine streams fed by glaciers and snowfields due to a warming climate threaten to dramatically alter the types of bacteria and other microbes in those streams, according to new research.

But streams that are fed by underground ice insulated by rock – called 'icy seeps' – offer some hope that the impact of climate change will be less severe in some areas, say the researchers, who include Lusha Tronstad, research scientist with the University of Wyomings’s Wyoming Natural Diversity Database (WYNDD).

New research published in the journal Sustainability looks at 'Mountain Farming Systems’ Exposure and Sensitivity to Climate Change and Variability: Agroforestry and Conventional Agriculture Systems Compared in Ecuador’s Indigenous Territory of Kayambi People.' The findings highlight the important role of agroforestry systems in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Smallholder farming is considered one of the sectors most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, variability, and extremes, especially in the developing world. This vulnerability is due to the socioeconomic limitations and high environmental sensitivity which affect the biophysical and socioeconomic components of smallholder farming systems. Therefore, systems’ functionality and farmers’ livelihoods will also be affected, with significant implications for global food security, land-use/land-cover change processes and agrobiodiversity conservation. As a result, less vulnerable and more resilient smallholder farming systems constitute an important requisite for sustainable land management and to safeguard the livelihoods of millions of rural and urban households.

A new paper published in the journal Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics summarizes a long-term ecological research project in megadiverse montane grassland, and provides data on climate, soil, plant communities, plant mutualists, and antagonists. The researchers' goal is to integrate information into global mountain assessment networks.

A new paper published in the journal Regional Environmental Change explores new challenges being faced by indigenous pastoral communities in the Andes using both satellite data and traditional ecological knowledge. MRI SLC member Elizabeth Jimenez Zamora is among the authors. 

In the Andes, indigenous pastoral communities are confronting new challenges in managing mountain peatland pastures, locally called bofedales. Assessing land cover change using satellite images, vegetation survey, and local knowledge (i.e., traditional ecological knowledge) reveals the multi-faceted socio-ecological dimensions of bofedal change in Sajama National Park (PNS), Bolivia.

New research on how glaciers in the European Alps will fare under a warming climate has come up with concerning results. Under a limited warming scenario, glaciers would lose about two-thirds of their present-day ice volume, while under strong warming, the Alps would be mostly ice free by 2100. 

The study by a team of researchers in Switzerland was published in the European Geosciences Union (EGU) journal The Cryosphere, and provides the most up-to-date and detailed estimates of the future of all glaciers in the Alps, around 4000. It projects large changes will occur in the coming decades: from 2017 to 2050, about 50 percent of glacier volume will disappear, largely independently of how much we cut our greenhouse gas emissions.

A new, MRI-funded publication in the journal Environmental Science & Policy highlights how coordinated community and ecosystem-based actions offer a potential path to achieving disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation, sustainable development, and biodiversity conservation for vulnerable ecosystems and communities worldwide.


Article Highlights

  • Over 70 percent of disaster-related deaths from 2005 to 2014 occurred in mountainous regions.
  • Experiences in mountains reveal principles to guide disaster risk reduction (DRR).
  • Effective DRR addresses both community and ecosystem health.
  • DRR governance should fit local needs and requires local to global partnerships.
  • Successful DRR actions focus on capacity building, inclusive knowledge, and equity.

Biodiversity has been shown to increase the resilience of ecosystems to global change. But what fosters the resilience of social-ecological systems? MRI Principal Investigator Adrienne Grêt-Regamey is lead author of a new paper published in Nature Sustainability focusing on the importance of actors' diversity in relation to this question.

Mountains, despite their size and apparent strength, are fragile landscapes, shaped by interactions between humans and nature. However, socio-economic and climate changes are influencing the way these mountain social-ecological systems function, and the current climate debate shows how difficult it is to modify these drivers of change. So what can be done to make mountain landscapes more robust – and enable them to continue providing vital ecosystem services – in the face of global change? A new paper published in Nature Sustainability explores precisely this question.

Research published in the journal Sustainability Science last month uses participatory scenarios to explore the impacts of climate change on traditional farming communities in the East African highlands. Paper author Dr. Claudia Capitani tells us more.

Climate change poses a significant future challenge for many African countries, with an increase in temperature, higher frequency of extreme events, and uncertain precipitation patterns – wetter rainy seasons for some regions, increased aridity for others – anticipated by the middle of this century. This in turn has implications for food security, poverty reduction, and ecosystem conservation and restoration – making tackling climate change a key priority for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals at both a local and country level.

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