Guest Blog

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A story of hotspots and stepping stones

[caption id="attachment_2683" align="alignright" width="300"] A typical subarctic mountain trail, winding through a blueberry field (Vaccinium myrtillus). Predicting the faith of exotic plant species in cold-climate mountains Abisko, a small village north of the polar circle in Swedish Lapland. The origin of several mountain trails, winding through the pristine subarctic vegetation towards the breathtaking views at the top. A vegetation mostly consisting of slow-growing mosses and dwarf shrubs that seem to have been there forever. Yet during the last few years or decades, changes in this vegetation increasingly start to become apparent: several new species that are traditionally not a part of the subarctic vegetation are popping up along the trails. Clovers, common yarrow, sweetgrass or annual meadow grass, species that are typical residents of the milder parts of Europe, are now getting a foothold even here, in the high north. They border the trails, grow in the roadsides, line the buildings...
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Into the Hidden Valley: On a Quest for High Mountain Data

[caption id="attachment_2673" align="alignright" width="300"] Collecting snow samples to analyze black carbon deposition on Rikha Samba (Photo: Chytapten Sherpa/ Expedition team) I assume most glaciologists would have interesting stories to share about their work: the experience of studying glaciers, their research findings, and their line of work in general. But while we’re in the field, carrying on a conversation is last thing on our minds.  Most recently, I travelled to Rikha Samba for the annual 2016 autumn expedition along with two of my senior colleagues. Three other researchers from our national project partners: two from Kathmandu University, and one from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, the Government of Nepal were also with us. We set out in early October when the winter cold hadn’t yet set in. Our main objective was to monitor the glacier mass balance stake network, conduct a differential Global Positioning System (dGPS) survey of attitudinal and cross-sectional...
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Austrian Glacier Serves As Site for Mars Simulation

[caption id="attachment_2645" align="alignright" width="300"] Analog astronauts walking on a glacier in Austria (source: Österreichisches Weltraum Forum/Flickr). A manned mission to Mars is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a remote glacier in western Austria known mostly for its surrounding ski slopes and snow-capped mountain vistas. This post was originally posted last year on the  GlacierHub.org  by Ashley Chappo. The Kaunertal Glacier, located in the Tyrol state of Austria, recently served as a field site to test a mission of human researchers on Mars. A report detailing the findings of the analog mission was published in Acta Astronautica in September by Gernot Groemer, et al. The AMADEE-15  mission , coordinated by the Austrian Space Forum and 19 partner nations, lasted for 12 days in August 2015, during which a carefully chosen team of researchers performed selected experiments under realistic Martian surface conditions. But the glacier mission was not just...
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Wild Nettle - a history and empowerment for women

[caption id="attachment_2632" align="alignright" width="300"] The Wild Nettle Plant grows about 6ft-7ft tall. Reminiscing a conversation with her grandmother, Kala Kumari, a Kulung woman said, “according to our grandmother the first plant we ate was nettle and during a time of which lasted for a year in the 70’s, we survived because of nettle.” Nettle plant grows throughout Nepal. The Kulung community values nettle both as plant and fabric. Nettle fabric also has a long tradition in the Kulung community. The skills of making nettle fabric have been passed on from women to women through generations. It also holds a spiritual significance with birth and death as the community uses the cloth made from nettle fabric to cover a new-born baby as well as a deceased body. [caption id="attachment_2633" align="alignleft" width="300"] Once the bark is removed, the Wild Nettle gets processed by boiling it for several hours to soften it. In the...
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Listening to the Voice of Nature as it Echoes from an Adaptation Retreat

By Felix Donkor and Christopher Mabeza [caption id="attachment_2619" align="alignright" width="300"] Co-op farmers demonstrate the process of rooibos farming to visitors. Anthropogenic climate change has been given different accolades from being a “wicked problem” (Rittel and Webber, 1973 ) to a “super wicked problem” (Levin, 2012). A common denominator in both descriptions is that climate change, due to its hyper-complexity, defies simplistic or straightforward planning responses. Consequently, as we grapple with complexity in the Anthropocene, response interventions merit an interdisciplinary or trans-disciplinary approach. The South African Adaptation Network responded to a call for an advanced platform where discussions could be deepened and stimulated and climate change adaptation initiatives and experiences could be shared among practitioners in the adaptation landscape. The platform was facilitated in the form of a Adaptation Retreat, held in the town of Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape from 15 -18 May 2017. Facilitated by Noel Oettle (Adaptation Network), Shannon...
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Species on the move

[caption id="attachment_2601" align="alignright" width="300"] Recent climate change is affecting a fragile balance, and the ball just started rolling The world’s climate is changing rapidly. There, I said it! A statement backed by scientific evidence that keeps piling up, day by day. Yet, what is perhaps even more important: the impact of this changing climate on our world are now undeniably starting to surface as well. From the damaging effect of extreme weather events, over the slow-yet-steady rise of sea levels to the changes in the distribution of countless species; climate change is happening under our very eyes. Concerning the latter, an impressive recent review in Science (Pecl et al., 2017) has bundled all these observed biodiversity redistributions, highlighting why we should care about them. And that last fact might be even more interesting, because at first sight, it might be not more than a scientific triviality if organisms are heading north or up in the...
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The Mountains 2018 Conference

Mountains 2018 is an international conference that will bring together scholars, professionals, policy makers and others involved with multiple aspects of the mountain world. The Conference seeks to stimulate and disseminate knowledge about the topic based on lessons learned from scientific research and practical experiences related to use and challenges of promoting sustainable development in mountain territories, including how mountains can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Mountains 2016, the first of the series, occurred in Bragança, Portugal ( http://cimo.esa.ipb.pt/mountains2016/ ). One of the outcomes of this event was the launching of the Lusophony Mountain Research Network – Lumont  ( http://cimo.esa.ipb.pt/LuMont/index.php/pt/ ) to encourage exchange among Portuguese speaking members. The establishment of this network provided additional support for Brazil to organize the next Conference. As a result, Mountains 2018 will take place, in Nova Friburgo, located in the mountain region of the state of Rio de Janeiro, on December 11 th...
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Conservation Award for Africa

[caption id="attachment_2558" align="alignright" width="300"] Ian Little, receiving the award from HRM Princess Ann Dr Ian Little from the South African Endangered Wildlife Trust receives 2017 Whitley Award Dr Ian Little from the South African Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), seen here receiving his Whitley award from HRM Princess Ann, was one of the prestigious winners this year for his determined efforts to protect grasslands in South Africa. Ian is one of six individuals to have been awarded a share of the prize money worth £210,000, winning the Whitley Award donated by the Garfield Weston Foundation. Grasslands are the most endangered vegetation type in South Africa because this is where most of the agriculture, mining and urban development has taken place. The work of Dr Little focuses on several threatened species and their habitats which include the Wattled Crane, the Yellow-breasted Pipit, Rudd’s Lark, the White–bellied Korhaan and others. Over the next five...
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Creating ClimateWIse

[caption id="attachment_2537" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1. Goat traffic on the voyage from Lima to the town of Huamantanga After a gripping five-hour drive, winding over skinny mountain roads through goat traffic, we arrive in the tiny town of Huamantanga (Fig. 1). The water that flows through this town eventually ends up in Lima, Peru, and Huamantanga is one of the first community partners to work with AquaFondo - Lima’s water fund. Like other water funds, AquaFondo works with rural communities to support watershed conservation and restoration to secure clean and ample water supplies for both up and downstream water users. It turns out the community of Huamantanga and the city of Lima have one major thing in common: they both face water shortages in the dry season. Building on the work of a local NGO, Alternativa, AquaFondo, CONDESAN, and Huamantanguinos came up with two innovative solutions. First, they’re restoring ancient pre-Incan...
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Two new research organizations in mountain studies have been established in Japan during the cherry blossom season

April might be the most important month in the Japanese year, not only because of the cherry blossom season but for starting a new semester. In April 2017, two new research organizations have been established regarding mountain studies in Japan - “Master degree program of mountain studies” and “Mountain Science Center (MSC)”. After a Japanese Alps inter-university Cooperation Project (JALPS) in 2010-2014, the scientists involved sought to establish an educational and research framework to coordinate and activate mountain studies in Japan.  After tremendous efforts for agreements among universities and negotiation with the ministry of education, science, culture, sports and technology, the two functions were finally approved by the University of Tsukuba. [caption id="attachment_2502" align="alignleft" width="300"] (Fig. 1) Kick-off symposium of MSC (March 21, 2017) The master degree program is composed of multiple science fields related to the mountain sciences through the collaboration of four national universities: the University of Tsukuba, Shinshu...
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