Glaciers are melting in most areas across the globe. However, the speed at which tropical glaciers in the Peruvian Andes are retreating is particularly alarming. This is according to a detailed investigation of all Peruvian mountain ranges conducted by a research team from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, which found a drastic reduction of almost 30 percent in the area covered by glaciers between 2000 and 2016. In a paper recently published in the open-access journal The Cryospherethe research team also observed that El Niño activities had a significant effect on the state of the glaciers. 

Tropical glaciers exist around the equator at altitudes of above 4000 metres. Peru is home to 92 percent of all areas covered by glaciers in the tropics. Due to their geographical location, tropical glaciers are particularly sensitive to fluctuations and changes in the climate. In certain mountain ranges in the Andes, such as the Cordillera Blanca, glaciers are reported to have been retreating at an accelerated rate since the 1980s. Measurements of the mass balance of individual glaciers have also shown a significant loss of ice.

In early September, over 500 mountain researchers came together at the heart of the Tyrolean Alps in Innsbruck, Austria in order to engage in in-depth, cross-disciplinary discussions at the International Mountain Conference (IMC) 2019. Their aim? To further develop global understanding of mountain systems, their responses, and resiliencies. 

A member of the IMC 2019 scientific steering committee, the Mountain Research Initiative was well-represented throughout the conference by the MRI Coordination Office, its Principal Investigators, and members of the Science Leadership Council (SLC).

The Convention on Biological Diversity is currently working on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. To advance the preparations of the framework, the first meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group was held in Nairobi, gathering over 500 delegates and observers – and Dr. Aino Kulonen from the MRI Coordination Office was one of them. To ensure that mountain specific issues will be included in the framework, a Policy Brief on mountains was launched and mountain countries were invited to collaborate to achieve this goal.

2020 marks the end of the current Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Significant and comprehensive scientific evidence of dangerous biodiversity decline and the threat it poses to quality of life from the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services leaves countries with the challenging task of providing a new framework which should meet the three objectives of the CBD: 1) the conservation of biodiversity, 2) the sustainable use of its components, and 3) the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

The GEO-GNOME Workshop ‘Essential Climate Variables for Observations in Mountains’ took place at the University of Bern in Switzerland, 24-26 June 2019. The workshop brought together experts from different fields of mountain research to consider a list of essential variables that need to be measured to understand elevation dependent warming and related mountain processes.

Addressing the importance of climate as one key driver of environmental change in mountains, with relevant consequences for social-ecological systems, is a key activity of the Group on Earth Observations Global Network for Observations and Information in Mountain Environments (GEO GNOME).

The World Biodiversity Forum – taking place in Davos, Switzerland, 23-28 February 2020 – is now accepting proposals for oral and poster contributions. Keep mountain topics in the global biodiversity agenda by submitting your proposal to one of the three MRI hosted sessions taking place, or to one of the other 30 sessions offered. Deadline for submissions is 10 November 2019.

The World Bio­di­ver­si­ty Fo­rum will bring lead­ing re­searchers, ear­ly ca­reer re­searchers, prac­ti­tion­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from dif­fer­ent sec­tors, de­ci­sion-mak­ers, and so­ci­etal ac­tors to­geth­er in order to have a con­ver­sa­tion about the kind of fu­ture we want for bio­di­ver­si­ty. The Fo­rum will pro­vide a plat­form for ex­change, cov­er­ing a wide range of per­spec­tives and cap­tur­ing a di­ver­si­ty of vi­sions. Through this, it aims to re­de­fine and set the agen­da for bio­di­ver­si­ty as a fo­cal point over the next 10 years in cur­rent themes and top­ics across sec­tors.

Climate change and its consequences pose even greater challenges to developing countries than industrialized nations. But developing countries are severely underrepresented in bodies assessing the relevant science. A unique collaboration between the Mountain Research Initiative, University of Zurich, Helvetas, and ICIMOD aims to address this. 

Developing countries are traditionally underrepresented in the process of preparing the scientific assessments on climate change, its impacts, and future risks for policymakers. To contribute towards tackling this issue, the Mountain Research InitiativeUniversity of Zurich, Helvetas, and ICIMOD – with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) – have come together to create the Mentoring and Training Program in IPCC Processes for Early Career Mountain Researchers.

The most recent report from the IPCC highlights the severe impact of climate change on the world’s water, from the deepest depths of the ocean to the highest peaks of our changing mountains.

Our oceans are warming, ice sheets are melting, and sea levels are rising – and all at an unprecedented rate. This is according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) compiles the findings of thousands of scientific studies, painting a stark picture of the impacts, outlook, and potential for adaptation to unparalleled and enduring changes in the ocean and cryosphere as a result of global warming – and highlighting the urgency of timely, ambitious, and coordinated action on greenhouse gas emissions.

The MRI Mountain Governance Working Group (MGWG) explores challenges and opportunities for improving effective and sustainable governance of mountain social-ecological systems. In recent months, MGWG members participated in two international conferences: The International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) in Lima, Peru, and the International Mountain Conference in Innsbruck, Austria.  

The MRI Mountain Governance Working Group is comprised of MRI SLC Members Catherine Tucker (University of Florida-USA), Irasema Ayala Alcántara (Universidad Nacional de México), Alexey Gunya (Russian Academy of Sciences), Elizabeth Jiménez (CIDES - Universidad Mayor de San Andres, Bolivia), Julia Klein (Colorado State University, USA), Esther Mwangi (CGIAR), and Jun Xu (Sichuan University, China). 

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