MRI News

After almost 15 years as MRI Chair, Professor Rolf Weingartner is taking a step back to concentrate on other projects. Looking back at his time at the helm, Weingartner talks us through the evolution of the MRI over the years, its key achievements, and where he hopes the MRI will head in future.

What made you want to get involved with the MRI?

Since the start of my career, one of my focal points has been on Swiss hydrology – and as soon as you combine hydrology and Switzerland it is obvious that mountains become involved. They are the water towers of Switzerland, and indeed of Europe! And mountains and mountain hydrology have become increasingly important over the years because of climate change and its impact on the cryosphere; mountains are strongly affected, with their retreating glaciers, melting permafrost, changing snow cover, and so on. So this combination felt like a natural fit for the MRI.

Guest-edited by MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler, this issue of the journal Mountain Research and Development contributes to the literature being assessed for the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report – and particularly its cross-chapter paper on mountains.

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6, due in 2021) was being scoped, a number of stakeholders with a mountain focus from research, government, policy, and development communities highlighted the importance of mountains in global assessments such as those conducted by the IPCC. This ultimately led to the approval of a cross-chapter paper on mountains. The articles in this issue of Mountain Research and Development (MRD) contribute to the body of literature that is being assessed by the IPCC in AR6, integrating mountain contexts and issues into the climate change adaptation debate.

This year, the famous AGU Fall Meeting returned to San Francisco for the AGU’s Centennial Celebrations, gathering nearly 30,000 geoscientists – among them a great number of mountain-oriented researchers. During the AGU week, the MRI organized scientific sessions and a side-event workshop that offered mountain researchers a chance to connect and engage in discussion on mountain climate research.

Mountain Weather and Climate in a Warmer World

The scientific sessions on ‘Mountain Weather and Climate in a Warmer World’ presented research seeking to better understand weather and climate processes and patterns of climate change in mountains, as well as their implications for high-elevations and regions downstream, using in situ observations, remote sensing, and modelling approaches.

During the UN Climate Change Conference COP25, the MRI celebrated International Mountain Day 2019 on 11 December by raising a voice for mountains at this important event. 

The UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 (2 – 13 December 2019) took place in Madrid, Spain under the Presidency of the Government of Chile and with logistical support from the Government of Spain. The conference was designed to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process. Following agreement on the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement at COP 24 in Poland last year, a key objective of COP25 was to take steps towards the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The pace of contemporary rise in greenhouse gas concentrations is unprecedented in climate history over the past 66 million years and weather extremes are the 'new normal,' according to some of the latest findings in climate science compiled in an easy-to-read guide for negotiators, policymakers, and media for the COP25 summit in Madrid. MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler was among the publication's contributing authors. 

10 New Insights in Climate Science was presented to UNFCCCs Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid, 6 December, 2019, and distributed to negotiators and journalists.

The report highlights the most recent advances over the last 12 months in the scientific understanding of the drivers, effects, and impacts of climate change, as well as societal responses. It is the third annual publication by Future Earth and The Earth League, two major international organizations representing networks of global sustainability scientists. It summarizes recent Earth-system science, policy, public health, and economic research.

During GEO Week 2019, a workshop focused on GEO initiatives’ contributions to assessing ecosystem changes and vulnerabilities due to climate change was held. Among the organizers was the MRI co-led GEO Global Network for Observations and Information in Mountain Environments (GEO-GNOME), with the MRI in attendance to represent this important initiative for our changing mountains.

Ecosystems face multiple stressors from human activities and climate change. In order to address these stressors and sustain ecosystem benefits, evidence-informed conservation, management, and restoration policies are urgently needed. To aid this decision-making, the effective monitoring, modelling, and understanding of the state of and trends in ecosystem conditions, functions, and services under current and future stressors is essential.

The MRI-funded synthesis workshop 'WEATHER' brought researchers from different countries together in Lima, Peru in order to discuss the scope, strengths, and weaknesses of both traditional and innovative survey methods used to study glacier retreat and dynamics in the Andes, and to identify future research priorities.

The Andes contain a great number of tropical glaciers, and the meltwater they supply is an essential resource for people downstream who depend on it for irrigation and sanitation. Understanding glacier processes and implementing adequate science-based adaptation strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change requires an interdisciplinary approach. The synthesis workshop 'WEATHER: a scientific approach to Water sEcurity and climATe cHange adaptation in pEruvian glacieRs' was an opportunity for investigators from different countries to come together to share their research, methodologies, and objectives, as well as serving as a networking platform for potential collaborations.

The MRI is supporting a call issued by the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists – in collaboration with other early career associations and networks – for early career researchers from various disciplines to come together to produce a group review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report.

The Working Group I (WGI) contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) is due to be finalized in 2021. The Second Order Draft of the IPCC AR6 WGI report will be open for expert review from 2 March to 26 April 2020.

Newsletter subscription