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.

Mountains have long been recognized as being among the regions most sensitive to climate change (Beniston et al 1996; Kohler et al 2014), and yet many key drivers and processes in mountain environments remain poorly understood (Mountain Research Initiative EDW Working Group et al 2015). Despite these gaps, observed impacts are evident, both on ecosystems and for mountain communities, whose vulnerability and exposure to climate-induced hazards increase the risk of climate-related disasters (Hock et al 2019). From a climate justice perspective (see Hansen and Cramer 2015; Huggel et al 2016), there is an urgent need to support mountain people by improving our understanding of key drivers and processes of change, and therefore our data and information on observed and projected changes and impacts in mountains (Adler et al 2018), thereby enhancing their resilience, i.e., their ability to cope with change (adaptation) and to develop new options to address risks (IPCC 2018; IPCC 2019). This requires a better understanding of how climate change affects mountain ecosystems and societies; it also requires knowledge on innovative institutional, collaborative, socioeconomic, and other approaches to adapting to climate change in mountains; and—of course—it requires action.

Articles in this edition of MRD focus on participatory scenario planning in Iceland; risk awareness of migrants in rural Austria; assessment of alpine pastures to guide adaptation in the French Alps; the role of different sources of knowledge in adaptation, e.g., farmers’ perceptions in Venezuela and Colombia, local knowledge in Ecuador, and multiple epistemologies in the Indian Himalaya; local adaptations to water scarcity in the Hindu Kush–Himalaya; the declining contribution of glaciers to water resources in the Mongolian Altai; a worldwide assessment of national glacier monitoring; and an overview of trends and adaptation initiatives in African mountains.

Mountain Research and Development (MRD) Vol 39, No 2: Adaptation to Climate Change and Sustainable Mountain Development is available now. 

Access this edition of MRD.

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