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The latest issue of the open access journal Mountain Research and Development (MRD), Vol 41, No 2, includes new research by the MRI's Mountain Governance and Mountain Observatories Working Groups. 

Which impacts of climate change are already being felt in African mountains, and how are local communities adapting to them? Research recently published in the journal Climate and Development explores this question through the eyes of Twa hunter-gatherers living around Mount Kahuzi in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The mountains of Africa host a remarkable range of biodiversity and are home to over 200 million people, providing essential ecosystem services both to those living at higher elevations and those living downstream. They play an essential role in the provision of water and in food production, for example, thanks to their increased levels of rainfall and the high quality of their lands for agriculture. However, despite their importance, little is known about how climate change is already impacting African mountains and the people living on and around them – and which, if any, adaptation strategies are being adopted in response. New research published in the journal Climate and Development seeks to shed some light on this.

Scientists studying tropical forests in Africa’s mountains were surprised to uncover how much carbon they store, and how fast some of these forests are being cleared.

The international study reported 25 August in Nature, found that intact tropical mountain (or montane) forests in Africa store around 150 tonnes of carbon per hectare. This means that keeping a hectare of forest standing saves CO2 emissions equivalent to powering 100 homes with electricity for one year.

The European Research Executive Agency (REA) invites experts from a wide range of fields, including the mountain research community, to register in the European Commission’s experts database.

From this database, the REA will select candidates with the most suitable profile for the following activities: 

  • Evaluating project proposals applying for funding under Horizon Europe, the Promotion of Agricultural Products programme and the Research Fund for Coal and Steel, or 

  • Monitoring the implementation of funded projects. 

The near-surface zero degree line (ZDL) is a key isotherm in mountain regions worldwide, but a detailed analysis of methods for determining the ZDL and their applicability in a changing climate is missing. Focusing on the Swiss Alps, a recent paper published in the International Journal of Climatology intercompares different approaches to determine the near-surface ZDL on a monthly scale, and investigates the past evolution of the ZDL in the Swiss Alps.

Atmospheric isotherms (i.e., lines of equal or constant air temperature) are a central concept in climatology. Their near-surface patterns are used in climate classification and climate zoning and inform the spatial and vertical distribution of ecosystems and of cryospheric components of the hydrological cycle. In mountainous terrain, a special isotherm is of particularly high relevance: the zero degree line (ZDL). The ZDL roughly separates regions where precipitation predominantly falls as snow or as rain. It is connected to both the snowline and the equilibrium line of glaciers.

The International Glaciological Society has announced the 2021 winners of its honorary awards. 

The International Glaciological Society was founded in 1936 to provide a focus for individuals interested in practical and scientific aspects of snow and ice. The Society recognizes achievements in glaciology and contributions to the development of the science through its three honorary awards. 

On 14 August 2021, researchers measured the southern peak of Sweden's highest mountain, Kebnekaise, at 2,094.6 meters above sea level. This is the lowest height since measurements began in the 1940s, and almost two meters lower than the same time last year.

From the mid-1940s on, there has been an unbroken series of measurements of Kebnekaise's southern peak, carried out by researchers at Stockholm University's research station in Tarfala. The measurements show that the south peak's snow drift varied in both height and shape during the 20th century. The height varies two to three meters between summer and winter. Normally, the peak is at its highest in May and lowest in September.

The Southern African Mountain Conference  (SAMC) 2022 will be held from 14 to 17 March 2022 in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains of South Africa-Lesotho.  The theme of SAMC 2022 will be ‘Southern African mountains – their value and vulnerabilities.’

Abstract submission deadline 30 September 2021.

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