MRI News

This week, experts from IPCC Working Group II are meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, to continue preparing their contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). Among them is MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler, selected to co-lead the AR6 Cross-Chapter Paper on Mountains.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II – which deals with impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability to climate change – is meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, this week to advance their contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

Running 15-19 July, the Second Lead Author Meeting for AR6 has brought together more than 260 authors and IPCC Bureau members from more than 60 countries. It is being hosted by the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of Nepal, in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

“Meeting here in Kathmandu reminds us in a very direct way of the strong interdependence of human and natural systems, and how both are threatened by climate change,” says Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts.

“The purpose of our report is to provide options for adaptation action that will enable cities like Kathmandu and ecosystems such as the high mountains to thrive and contribute towards improved well-being and sustainable development. Key aspects of our report and reasons to act on climate change are very evident here.”

The Working Group II contribution to AR6 provides governments with an assessment of the latest scientific knowledge about the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human systems and their vulnerabilities. It also analyses the capacities and limits of these systems to adapt to climate change, and explores options to reduce climate-associated risks and to create a sustainable future.

Making Sure Mountains Matter

Following the announcement last year that Carolina Adler of the MRI and Philippus Wester of ICIMOD had been chosen to co-lead the Cross-Chapter Paper on Mountains as part of the Working Group II contribution to AR6, they too are currently meeting with their co-authors in Kathmandu. As they prepare their contribution to the First Order Draft of the report, they will be addressing comments made by experts from various disciplines during an informal review of the initial draft, which took place in advance of this week's Second Lead Author Meeting.

"We received fantastic input from the internal review process and those experts that shared their guidance. I very much look forward to consolidating this feedback into our contribution to AR6 during the week ahead in Kathmandu," says Adler. 

"Alongside my fellow authors, I am very grateful for this opportunity to continue to work on the AR6 Cross-Chapter Paper on Mountains, ensuring our changing mountains have a voice in this important publication."

This informal review has been a key stage in the development of the report, as Working-Group II Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner explains. 

“The internal draft and its careful review by experts have helped us to set the course for our assessment,” says Pörtner. “Based on this, we will be able to provide governments with in-depth information for their efforts to reduce risks from climate change for ecosystems and human society, protect biodiversity, eradicate poverty, and enhance sustainable development.”

Carolina Adler and Philippus Wester at WMF 2018

Carolina Adler and Philippus Wester pictured at the World Mountain Forum 2018, held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Next Steps for AR6

The First Order Draft will be available for Expert Review from 18 October to 13 December 2019. The Second Order Draft will be open for Government and Expert Review from 7 August to 2 October 2020, along with the first draft of the Summary for Policymakers. The IPCC Panel is due to consider the Working Group II contribution to AR6 at a plenary session taking place 4-8 October 2021.

In 2022, a Synthesis Report integrating the three Working Group contributions and Special Reports will complete the sixth assessment cycle. It will be released in time to inform the 2023 global stocktake by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), when countries will review progress towards the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming to well below 2°C while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.


Further information about the Working Group II contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, including the outline, the timeline, and a link to the author database can be found on the IPCC website.

Read the original IPCC press release about this event on the IPCC website. 

Cover image: Ambir Tolang


Taking place in San Francisco 9-13 December 2019, the AGU Fall Meeting 2019 will bring together geoscientists from all over the world to draw inspiration from each other and show how earth and space science enables a more resilient and sustainable future for all. There are a number of exciting, mountain-related sessions – including two convened by the MRI. Abstract submission is now open and the deadline for all submissions is Wednesday 31 July.


GC056 - Mountain Weather and Climate in a Warmer World (Session ID: 79388) 

Conveners: Aino Kulonen (MRI), Nicholas C. Pepin  (Univ Portsmouth), Connie Millar (USDA Forest Service), & Mathias F Vuille (University at Albany, State University of New York, MRI SLC member).

Increasing evidence shows that mountains worldwide are experiencing particularly rapid environmental change. Warming rates are often elevation-dependent, and sometimes faster at higher elevations. This session seeks to better understand weather/climate processes and patterns of climate change in mountains, as well as their implications for high-elevations and regions downstream. The Mountain Research Initiative invites submissions which use in situ observations and/or remote sensing and/or modelling approaches. We particularly encourage contributions that merge various data sources and/or cross disciplinary borders (atmospheric, hydrological, cryospheric, and ecological sciences), and meta-studies comparing mountain regions or taking a global perspective.

Together with our program partners, University of Zurich, Helvetas, and ICIMOD, the MRI is very pleased to announce the six participants selected from among almost 100 applications received for our Mentoring and Training Program in IPCC Processes for Early Career Mountain Researchers – an initiative supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Thank you all for your interest in and support for this program.

The program specifically targets early career researchers with outstanding academic credentials and a research focus on climate change and mountains. The program aims to support their professional development through mentoring and training over the course of the next three years, strengthening their expert contributions on mountains and climate change and enhancing their eligibility to participate as authors in future regional and global assessments for science-policy processes, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A new and exciting Cluster of Cooperation in the Global South (CLOC) has been funded by the swissuniversities Development and Cooperation Network (SUDAC), which brings together a wide range of interdisciplinary expertise from Switzerland and Latin America. The CLOC Conéctate-A+ (which translates as 'connect yourself to the Andes+ region') aims to set up a hub in the Tropical Andes and Central America region (Andes+), to address research on and for sustainable development and global change. The MRI, in collaboration with CONDESAN and the University of Zurich as CLOC Co-Heads, is coordinating this novel interregional exchange.

Achieving sustainable development in Latin America, and specifically in the Andes+ region, continues to be a major challenge. Although some progress has been made towards an adequate understanding of the barriers that impede progress towards this goal, the advances have been more thematically driven than with an integrated approach; there have been collaborative efforts of existing networks, particularly from research and practice in mountains focused on socio-ecological variables of sustainable development. However, it has been difficult to define a strategic research or teaching agenda for the region in order to contribute to this purpose.

A new MRI publication highlights the importance of spatial context in monitoring and reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals. With reflections based on research in mountain regions, the paper calls for data collection methodologies and review schemes that take into account how SDGs may be reflected at sub-national and regional levels. This recent publication in the GAIA Open Access Thematic Issue: Research for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was developed by the MRI and the Center for Development and Environment (CDE), as part of our collaboration on the Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change (SMD4GC) programme.

In September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Central to this agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets. By committing to the 2030 Agenda, countries have promised to work towards sustainable development, pledging to leave no one behind. However, for those that are marginalized due to living in remote mountainous regions, for example, the risk of exclusion remains.

In the end of April almost 700 land system scientists travelled to Switzerland for the 4th Open Science Meeting of the Global Land Programme, held in Bern 24-26 April. During the week MRI attended and organized several activities to make mountain topics visible in the programme and connect mountain people in land system sciences.

Scenarios for sustainable mountain development

Research Session (328R): Applying Scenario Tools for Sustainable Mountain Development Thursday 25 April | 15:15 – 16:45

In light of the 2030 agenda, having information on how plausible futures of mountain social-ecological systems may look under different development scenarios, is key to enable dialogue and negotiations with multiple actors with claims on mountain resources. Tools such as social-ecological systems modelling and participatory scenario approaches, are developed to explore these scenarios and likely outcomes for communities, livelihoods, and mountain resources, with the ultimate aim to better project the impact of local and global changes in mountains and assist in designing management decisions towards sustainable mountain development.

An MRI-led special issue of the journal Regional Environmental Change seeks to highlight contributions from the mountain research community to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment cycle, focusing on the impacts of climate change on the high-mountain cryosphere and downstream regions – as well as responses to these impacts.

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment cycle presented the mountain research community with an opportunity to address knowledge gaps on climate change impacts in the high-mountain cryosphere – further motivating activity in an area that has increasingly been a focus of research in recent years. 

Last month, the MRI was present at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2019, held in Vienna between 8-12 April. During the week, we attended a number of events that provided opportunities to further connect and bring the mountain research community together at one of the largest, and key, meets for the geosciences research community in Europe.

Transcending disciplinary boundaries for knowledge co-production in mountains

Session EOS6.3/NH9.26: Inter- and transdisciplinary research, education, and practice in mountain regions: field experiences, challenges, and opportunities | Mon, 08 Apr, 14:00–15:45.

This session, led by the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), invited contributions to share diverse experiences with inter- and transdisciplinary (ID-TD) research, education, and practice as it is specifically applied in mountain contexts. A number of engaging presentations were given by researchers from diverse backgrounds, topics, and covering experiences had working in mountain regions in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America.

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