New Publication

This paper describes and evaluates a snow mapping setup for the remote Langtang Valley in the Nepal Himalayas, which can deliver data for snow and water availability mapping all year round.

Seasonal snow cover is an important source of melt water for irrigation and hydropower production in many regions of the world, but can also be a cause of disasters, such as avalanches and floods. In the remote Himalayan environment there is a great demand for up-to-date information on the snow conditions for the purposes of planned hydropower development and disaster risk reduction initiatives. 

According to the planetary boundaries framework, anthropogenic alteration of the nitrogen (N) cycle is one of the major challenges facing the Earth system. This study starts from the premise that human activities have at least doubled the levels of reactive N (Nr) available in the biosphere, resulting in deposition of Nr in or near heavily populated areas as well as remote ecosystems.

 The N cycle is best described as a modular and complex network of biological N-transformation reactions carried out by metabolically versatile communities of microorganisms, whose overall composition largely determines whether N is lost, via denitrification or anammox, or retained in the system via dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA).

New research published in the journal of  Hydrology and Earth System Science looks at whether 'The effects of vegetation and soil changes are as important as climate change impacts on hydrological processes.' The findings highlight the increasing impact climate change has on annual runoff volume. 

Hydrological processes are widely understood to be sensitive to changes in climate, but the effects of changes in vegetation and soils have seldom been considered. The response of mountain hydrology to future climate and vegetation/soil changes is modelled in three snowmelt dominated mountain basins in the North American Cordillera.

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.

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