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Ice Volume Calculated Anew

Written by Peter Rüegg. Source: ETH Zürich. Researchers have provided a new estimate for the glacier ice volume all around the world, excluding the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Their conclusion: previous calculations overestimated the volume of the glaciers in High Mountain Asia. Climate change is causing glaciers to shrink around the world. Reduced meltwaters from these glaciers also have downstream effects, particularly on freshwater availability. A lack of meltwater can greatly restrict the water supply to many rivers, especially in arid regions such as the Andes or central Asia, that depend on this water source for agriculture. Up-to-date information on the worldwide ice volume is needed to assess how glaciers – and the freshwater reserves they supply – will develop, and how sea levels are set to change.Ice thickness calculated for 215,000 glaciersLed by ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, an international team...
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Strong coupling between terrestrial and aquatic food webs found in Japanese mountain lakes

Lakes and ponds are important components of mountain ecosystems. Mountain lakes are mainly formed by volcanic craters, landslides and glaciers, which create beautiful alpine and subalpine landscapes and thus attract many tourists and hikers (cover photo). Such aquatic habitats also harbor rich and unique biodiversity including plants, animals, fungi and microbes. In addition to the ecological importance, the geomorphological, hydrological and biogeochemical significance of mountain lakes are also known, as they integrate the upstream watershed processes and influences the natural and human ecosystems located downstream in their embedded catchments. Therefore, lakes are now considered to provide high ecosystem service values in  mountainous landscapes. Field sampling in a subalpine mountain lake (Daigaku-numa Pond) located in the Daisetsu-Kogen swamp, Hokkaido, Japan. Lake water and plankton samples were collected from an inflatable boat using samplers. Ecologists have long recognized the strong coupling between terrestrial and aquatic food webs. For example, in small headwater streams...
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Thriving in a changing climate for mountains: Research prospects inspired by outcomes of the Sustainable Summits Conference 2018

As we near the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, and the mountains are blanketed with snow and temperatures drop, the extreme summer conditions experienced in the Alps earlier in the year seem like a very distant memory. Last summer, Switzerland registered its third warmest summer immediately after the fourth warmest spring season since instrumental records began in the year 1864, according to a report by Meteoswiss. The impacts observed and felt in the region were considerable, including rapidly changing conditions in the mountains triggering hazardous conditions and risks to mountain visitors and dwellers. So, rather than letting it slip into a distant memory, this is precisely the time to maintain the momentum and continue to reflect on those events and resulting losses, and steer attention to prospects for research and knowledge that address the new living conditions across all seasons in a rapidly changing climate in mountains – focusing on...
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Thinking Mountains Interdisciplinary Summit Brings Together Diverse People and Programs around Shared Concerns for Mountains

In the midst of an early October snowstorm, academics, practitioners, writers and educators made their way to the famous northern town of Banff, nestled in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains. Some people made it to Banff before the snows began. Others, like me, got stuck on the highway for an hour or so as trucks and cars struggled to climb the slippery roads and got stuck, blocking the flow of traffic. And some who arrived later that evening were apparently stuck on the slippery road for hours and hours late into the night.  But eventually, we all made it to the iconic and woodsy Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, home of the Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival, and – from 2-5 October – home of the . was sponsored by the Canadian Mountain Network, which is based out of the University of Alberta, with an organizing team comprised of...
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Vulnerable Peaks and People

More than half of the world’s population depends on mountains to provide drinking water. This water comes from glaciers in the Himalayas, Andes and other mountain ranges which a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified as among parts of the world most vulnerable to climate change. Each year, the United Nations marks the 11th of December as International Mountain Day, honouring the rich and diverse ecosystems and people that inhabit these magnificent landscapes, and highlighting the challenges they face. This year GRID-Arendal, UN Environment and a number of partners, observed the day with the launch of two special reports at the climate change negotiations underway in Katowice, Poland – the Outlook on Climate Change Adaptation in the Hindu Kush Himalaya and the Mountain Adaptation Outlook Series Synthesis Report.  Nepalese woman washes at a communal water tap. Photo: UN Women/Narendra Shrestha. These reports wrap up a seven-volume series of assessments that looked at...
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Hiking for science: hydrological research at the Páramo of Chirripó, Costa Rica

[caption id="attachment_3902" align="alignright" width="300"] Weather stations installed at the Base Crestones shelterWritten by Germain Esquivel-Hernández, Associate Professor at the School of Chemistry of the National University in Costa Rica.Restricted to the latitudinal zone between the parallels of 11°N and 8°S, the Páramo is a key mountainous tropical ecosystem in South America because of the environmental services it provides, including high water production and carbon storage capacity. However, the so-called 'Isthmian Páramo' situated in Costa Rica and Panama remains understudied due to its remote location, compared to some of the better understood Páramo areas in South America. Here, I share how I embarked on a scientific journey to reveal the water secrets of the most extensive Páramo region in Central America: Chirripó.Chirripó is a national park with an extension of about 100 km2, situated in the Talamanca Range (southern Costa Rica), where approximately 30 lakes of glacial origin are found. Visiting Chirripó is not...
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Mountain Glaciers: Vanishing Sources of Water & Life

[gallery size="large" link="file" columns="5" ids="3796,3802,3797,3798,3799,3800,3801,3803,3804,3805"][caption id="attachment_3815" align="alignright" width="305"] Click to download the flyer.Mountain glaciers are among the most visible and emblematic indicators of climate change. Worldwide, glaciers are losing mass at unprecedented rates – a process that has accelerated in recent decades, with record losses in the 21st century. As an effect of widespread glacier shrinkage, the high mountains of the world are currently experiencing a historically unparalleled, large-scale environmental transformation, with profound and far-reaching impacts for landscapes, ecosystems, and people.Glaciers provide important ecosystem services. In the tropical Andes, for instance, glacier meltwater offers critical support to sensitive ecosystems such as high-mountain wetlands. Ongoing glacier retreat therefore gives rise to ecosystem changes, and the eventual disappearance of glaciers in future will ultimately disrupt these ecosystems and their service functions. Glacier retreat also impacts water provision for people and economies downstream. Central Asia, several regions in South Asia, and the tropical Andes...
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The unique experience of a female science-art high-alpine expedition

[caption id="attachment_3750" align="alignright" width="350"] Expedition participants sit looking towards the Matterhorn near Zermatt in Switzerland. Image: Lena Hellmann/Girls on Ice Switzerland.Written by Lena Hellmann, Geographer and Leader of Girls on Ice Switzerland. In Switzerland, only 25 out of approximately 1,500 mountain guides are female, in Germany this number is around 10 out of approximately 500. Scientific positions, particularly in the natural sciences, are dominated by men with with only 23 percent of all university professors in Switzerland (1) and in Germany (2) being women. Even though these numbers have been increasing over recent decades, Girls on Ice Switzerland aims to further change these gender biases. As part of the international organisation Inspiring Girls Expeditions, the mission of Girls on Ice Switzerland is to bring out teenage girls' natural curiosity, to inspire their interest in science, and to connect arts and sciences. The exclusively female-guided mountain expedition encourages girls aged 15-17 to trust in their physical...
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New Study Highlights Loss & Damage in Mountain Cryosphere

Written by Andrew Angle. This article was first published on GlacierHub.Few areas of the planet have been more affected by climate change than the mountain cryosphere, where negative impacts like glacier recession far exceed any positives like short-term increases in glacial runoff. These adverse changes make highland environments ideal for examining the policy concept of Loss and Damage (L&D), which deals with the impact of climate change on resources and livelihoods that cannot be offset by adaptation. A recent study in Regional Environmental Change analyzes L&D in the mountain cryosphere by extracting examples from existing literature on the subject and developing a conceptual approach to support future research to address the subject.L&D has become an important issue within the international climate policy realm in recent years. In the mountain cryosphere, the effects of climate change and the resultant L&D are directly evident. However, despite the visibility of these changes, research on L&D has rarely...
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UNESCO Biosphere Reserves: Fertile Ground for Education

[caption id="attachment_3712" align="alignright" width="300"] Field meeting among biosphere reserve participants from Japan, Russia, and Belarus (funded by the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO)Written by Dr. Yoshihiko Iida, Research Associate at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, Operating Unit Ishikawa/Kanazawa, and Secretariat Advisor of the Mount Hakusan Biosphere Reserve Council.Mountain landscapes contain a wealth of both nature and culture, and have the potential to be used for a broad range of educational activities in fields as wide-ranging as climatology, ecology, history, and the arts. What is more, the results of these educational activities, such as the scientific monitoring of water sources and the study of disaster responses, can also be applied to further sustainable community development.With such an inclusive area for study then, what kind of human resource development program can be put in place by higher education sectors in mountains, beyond research? The UNESCO Biosphere Reserves provide an...
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