New Publication

A special issue of the bilingual Journal of Alpine Research/Revue de Géographie Alpine ‘Eau, tourisme et montagne/Water, Tourism and the Mountain’, guest edited by Emmanuel Reynard, features five new papers that highlight ways in which the tourism sector in mountain regions is adapting to climate change.

Among these articles is one co-authored by MRI Science Leadership Council member Samuel Morin, titled ‘Snow Reliability and Water Availability for Snowmaking in the Ski resorts of the Isère Département (French Alps), Under Current and Future Climate Conditions,’ whose co-authors include Martin Gerbaux, Pierre Spandre, Hugues François, and Emmanuelle George.

Although snow’s role in mountain ecosystems is a vital one, research into snow cover changes and their potential consequences in mountain systems is lacking.

While human-induced climate change is well-known, identifying individual factors based on human activity that contribute to climate change merits further research.

It was previously thought that Swiss rivers temperature and discharge were relatively preserved from climate change. Using data from 52 catchments in Switzerland, researchers have recently discovered that the increasingly warm air is indeed causing the temperature of bodies of water to rise.

While some alpine catchments are  still preserved by cold water advection coming from snow and glacier melt, some evidences show that glacier disappearance will lead to an important rise of the temperature in these rivers.

Glaciers are out of balance with present‐day climatic conditions. A state‐of‐the‐art computer model simulating the evolution of many glaciers now shows that the imbalance between glaciers in the European Alps and climatic conditions grew during the early 21st century, according to AGU100’s recent article ‘On the Imbalance and Response Time of Glaciers in the European Alps’ authored by Harry Zekollari and co-authored by Matthias Huss and Daniel Farinotti.

While there is no doubt regarding the highly erosive nature of glaciers and their ability to shape the Earth’s surface, establishing precise data-based parameters to measure this erosion in landscape evolution models has proved challenging.

According to University of Dundee Geoscientist Simon Cook, the empirical basis for the current model for measuring the rate of glacial erosion (as a function of glacier sliding velocity) is weak, and the assumption that climate controls erosion via sliding velocity also merits further empirical scrutiny.  

The western Peruvian Coastal Range depends on ecosystem services from several mountain catchments, including the Cañete River which provides water for energy, agriculture and housing from both the El Platanal hydroelectric plant and the Capillucas reservoir.

While it is known that changing precipitation patterns, including more heavy rainfall, due to climate change may increase the concentration of silt in storage reservoirs like the Capillucas reservoir, potentially endangering the livelihood of the surrounding community, the extent of the damage is not yet known.

As climate change redefines the landscape of high mountain environments, so changes the scope – and its limitations – of summertime mountaineering in the Alps.

While sunnier weather and warmer temperatures lead to a rise in certain nature-based tourism, such as visiting natural parks and camping, they are causing the crysophere to melt, leading to more frequent and intense gravitational processes (such as rockfall), creating an increasingly dangerous setting for mountaineers.

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