A new tool can better assess an important but overlooked indicator of global warming: the variety of bugs, worms, and snails living in high mountain streams.

Water-based invertebrates are especially vulnerable when the climate swings from historic droughts to massive floods. Because they serve as food for other forms of alpine life, such as birds, bats, frogs, and fish, ecologists worry about the insects’ ability to thrive. 

The 2021 Global Mountain Waste Survey was created with the objective of trying to fill a knowledge gap regarding the types and quantity of waste present in remote mountain areas globally.

Based on 1,753 responses originating from 74 different nationalities (initial results, June 4th 2021), the survey gives mountain dwellers and visitors, who are familiar with the environment, a chance to speak up and share their insights on waste. This publication now features improved analysis with a perspective on waste at the continental level, quotes and photos from respondents, and updated infographics.

In 2010-2019 average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history, but the rate of growth has slowed. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach. However, there is increasing evidence of climate action, said scientists in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today.

Since 2010, there have been sustained decreases of up to 85% in the costs of solar and wind energy, and batteries. An increasing range of policies and laws have enhanced energy efficiency, reduced rates of deforestation and accelerated the deployment of renewable energy.

Using lake sediment in the Tibetan Plateau, a team of researchers was able to show that permafrost at high elevations is more vulnerable than arctic permafrost under projected future climate conditions.

From the ancient sludge of lakebeds in Asia's Tibetan Plateau, scientists can decipher a vision of Earth's future. That future, it turns out, will look very similar to the mid-Pliocene warm period – an epoch 3.3 million to 3 million years ago when the average air temperature at mid-latitudes rarely dropped below freezing. It was a time when permanent ice was just beginning to cling to the northern polar regions, and mid-latitude alpine permafrost – or perpetually frozen soil – was much more limited than today.

Much of a centuries-old debate over where and how new bird species form has now been resolved. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have provided evidence that birds in mountainous areas – where the vast majority of the planet’s species live – have left lowland habitats for higher and higher mountain elevations throughout their evolution. Millions of years of climatic fluctuations have contributed to pushing bird species upslope – as is probably happening now. 

One of the fundamental questions in biology, and a centuries-old academic debate, is: How do new species form? And, how do species end up on mountain tops several kilometers high? Indeed, 85% of the world's vertebrates – birds included – live in mountainous areas where lowland habitats isolate animal species and populations from one another.

One of the most comprehensive documentaries ever produced about the relationship between climate change, mountain environments, and glaciers, The Last Glaciers shines a light on the rapid depletion of the world's water towers as a result of climate change. The Mountain Research Initiative is proud to be a science partner in support of this important film.  

Released on World Water Day (22 March) and to be screened in IMAX cinemas worldwide, the highly anticipated documentary The Last Glaciers follows award-winning filmmaker Craig Leeson and United Nations Mountain Hero & Entrepreneur Malcolm Wood over the course of four years as they journey to the planet's remaining glaciers to explore the causes and effects of climate change in mountains – the location of our planet's vital, and vanishing, water reservoirs.

New research, led by Dr Petra Holden from the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI), has shown how catchment restoration - through the management of alien tree infestation in the mountains of the southwestern Cape - could have lessened the impact of climate change on low river flows during the Cape Town 'Day Zero' drought.

Climate change is impacting extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. Nature-based solutions, such as catchment restoration, involve working with ecosystems and landscapes to address societal challenges. These challenges include the impacts of climate change on water resources. Up to now, studies have not separated the role of nature-based solutions in reducing the human-driven climate change impacts of extreme events on water availability from that of natural climate variability.

Research led by Dr. Estefania Quenta-Herrera, research associate at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés and a participant in the MRI co-led Mentoring and Training Program in IPCC Processes for Early Career Mountain Researchers, explores the impact of protected areas on high-elevation freshwater ecosystems, their biodiversity, and their ecosystem services in the tropical Andes.

Although protected areas (PAs) play an important role in ecosystem conservation and climate change adaptation, no systematic information is available on the impact of PA in terms of the protection of high-elevation freshwater ecosystems, their biodiversity, and their ecosystem services in the tropical Andes. Research published in the journal Environmental Conservation seeks to help address that gap.

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