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Melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic as well as ice melt from glaciers all over the world are causing sea levels to rise. Glaciers alone lost more than 9,000 billion tons of ice since 1961, raising water levels by 27 millimeters, an international research team under the lead of UZH have now found.

Glaciers have lost more than 9,000 billion tons (that is 9 625 000 000 000 tons) of ice between 1961 and 2016, which has resulted in global sea levels increasing by 27 millimeters in this period. The largest contributors were glaciers in Alaska, followed by the melting ice fields in Patagonia and glaciers in the Arctic regions. Glaciers in the European Alps, the Caucasus mountain range and New Zealand were also subject to significant ice loss; however, due to their relatively small glacierized areas they played only a minor role when it comes to the rising global sea levels.

During this year's European Geosciences Union General Assembly, the 2019 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists was awarded to Earth scientist Marie Dumont for her outstanding contribution in the field of snow sciences.

The Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists recognises the scientific achievement, in any field of the geosciences, made by an early career scientist. It is granted to four exceptional early career scientists on the occasion of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly. This year, Marie Dumont, research scientist at the National Centre for Meteorological Research in France, was among the award's recipients.  

The Networks of Centres of Excellence program has announced that the Canadian Mountain Network will receive $18.3 million in funding over five years (2019–2024) to support its ambitious research, training, and knowledge mobilization agenda.

The Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) is an alliance of partners from universities, governments, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, not-for-profits, and businesses dedicated to the sustainability of mountain environments and communities across the country and around the world.

Microplastics have been discovered in a remote area of the French Pyrenees mountains. The particles travelled through the atmosphere and were blown into the once pristine region by the wind, according to a new study published in Nature Geoscience.

This is just the latest example of the 'hidden risks' posed by plastics that humans cannot see with the naked eye. For now, governments and activists are focused on avoiding plastic litter in the environment, driven mainly by concern for wildlife and worries over unsightly drinks bottles or abandoned fishing nets on beaches. Plastic bag usage has been cut in many parts of the world, and various projects are exploring how to gather up the floating plastic waste in oceans. But little has yet been done to deal with polluting plastic particles that are usually invisible.

A study published in the journal Water Policy stresses that rapid urbanisation in the region, driven mainly by tourism, is threatening water security in the area – which will only be exacerbated by climate change. The researchers argue that unless a long-term and mountain-specific strategy is devised, millions living in the region would face a severe water crisis.

Millions of people living in the Himalayan region of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal may face a grim water future if the rapid and unplanned urbanisation taking place in the ecologically fragile mountains is not quickly addressed, said a study which recommended long-term mountain-specific urban planning to tackle the threat.

An Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) study has showed that until now, scientists have been substantially underestimating how quickly gases are exchanged between mountain streams and the atmosphere. Based on research in the Swiss cantons of Vaud and Valais, an EPFL laboratory has shed new light on the role of mountain streams in emitting greenhouse gases.

An EPFL study has prompted scientists to rethink a standard approach used to calculate the velocity of gas exchange between mountain streams and the atmosphere. Research conducted in streams in Vaud and Valais indicate that equations used to predict gas exchange based on data from lowland streams undershoots the actual gas exchange velocity in mountain streams on average by a factor of 100.

The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment finds that even if carbon emissions are dramatically cut and global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees, over a third of glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region will have vanished by 2100. If emissions are not cut, this loss could increase to two-thirds – with serious consequences for the billions who rely on their water.

A comprehensive new study of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region finds that even meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century would lead to a 2.1 degree spike in temperatures in the Himalaya – resulting in the melting of one-third of the region’s glaciers. These glaciers are a critical water source to some 250 million mountain dwellers, and 1.65 billion others living in the river valleys below.

IPCC Special Report 1.5 degrees coverIn a new Special Report released in October, the IPCC stressed the urgency of limiting global warming to 1.5°C to mitigate some of the more severe consequences of climate change. What are the implications of this report for mountains and mountain research?

Published earlier this month, the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C provided compelling evidence of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared to 2°C or more. Global sea level rise by 2100, for instance, would be 10 cm lower with 1.5°C rather than 2°C of warming, while the likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century, rather than at least once per decade.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C or higher increases the risks associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” says Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

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