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Volume 18, issue 11 of the Journal of Mountain Science explores topics ranging from a multi-scale analysis of ecosystem services trade-offs in an ecotone in the Eastern Margin of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau to an examination of 30 years of the transformation of non-urban public transport in Poland’s peripheral areas.

Other articles look at the spatial differentiation pattern of interregional migration in ethnic minority areas of Yunnan Province in China, assess the vegetation community distribution characteristics and succession stages in mountainous areas hosting the coming Winter Olympics, and quantify glacial elevation changes in the central Qilian Mountains during the early 21st century, among many other topics. 

With mountain snowpacks shrinking in the western U.S., a new Berkeley Lab study analyzes when a low-to-no-snow future might arrive and the implications for water management.

Mountain snowpacks around the world are on the decline, and if the planet continues to warm, climate models forecast that snowpacks could shrink dramatically and possibly even disappear altogether on certain mountains, including in the western United States, at some point in the next century. A new study led by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) analyzes the likely timing of a low-to-no-snow future, what it will mean for water management, and opportunities for investments now that could stave off catastrophic consequences.

IPBES have announced the start of the external review of the draft scoping report for the IPBES business and biodiversity assessment, which is open from 2 November to 13 December 2021.

The rolling work programme of IPBES up to 2030, adopted by the Plenary in decision IPBES-7/1, includes a methodological assessment of the impact and dependence of business on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people ('business and biodiversity assessment'). In the same decision, the Plenary approved a scoping process for the assessment, based on the initial scoping report set out in appendix II to document IPBES/7/6, for consideration by the Plenary at IPBES 9 (July 2022).

A historic World Meteorological Congress has concluded with landmark resolutions to prioritize water and to dramatically strengthen the world’s weather and climate services through a systematic increase in exchange of observational data and data products.

The WMO Unified Data Policy, the Global Basic Observing Network, and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility were painstakingly developed through extensive consultation with thousands of experts and other stakeholders around the globe. The aim is to meet the explosive growth in demand for weather and climate data products and services, to fill gaps in the global observing system and ensure more sustainable financing.

What constitutes quality of life? What does a rural, mountain area like the Entlebuch offer in terms of quality of life today and in the future? How can quality of life be provided sustainably? These and similar questions were addressed in a research project conducted by the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) at the University of Bern, and are now shown in an interactive exhibition at the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch. The exhibition was designed participatively, and offers the opportunity for the visitor to reflect on their own quality of life and to mirror their findings with scientific results. It is, in the view of the authors, an important topic with regional up to global relevance.

How satisfied are the people of Entlebuch and of comparable regions with their lives, and how sustainable is the provision of this quality of life? These basic questions were the impetus for a research project that the CDE launched together with the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch and other partners in 2017. The research project investigated these questions with qualitative and quantitative approaches and identified 'sustainable quality of life' as a multi-layered concept that takes into account nine aspects that add up to quality of life: Social relations and equality, nature and landscape, employment and income, participation and belonging, housing, mobility, health and safety, education and knowledge. These aspects are evaluated in terms of their social, economic, and environmental impact. Further, sustainable quality of life puts emphasis on inter- and intra-generational equity.

On 1 October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  circulated  the final draft of the Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group II contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) to governments for their review and comment.

This is one of the final stages of report preparation before the plenary approval of this contribution which assesses the impacts of climate change and how humanity and ecosystems are both vulnerable and adapting to it.

In a large-scale study conducted on Mount Kilimanjaro and published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers were able to demonstrate that species richness improves the performance of ecosystems, while the species turnover along the elevational gradient plays a minor role.

Microorganisms, plants, and animals accomplish great feats every day. For example, by decomposing material, producing plant biomass, or pollinating flowers, they keep nature 'up and running," thereby securing the livelihood of humans. Numerous studies have shown that a high biodiversity can have a positive impact on these as well as on other ecosystem functions.

As the world’s glaciers disappear, one group of scientists is seeking to understand their impact on humans before they are gone. By applying the ecosystem services framework to glaciers, the authors of an August 2021 paper published in Ecosystem Services hope to drive home the important role that glaciers play for humans. 

Ecosystems services is a framework that examines the many ways that humans benefit from nature. Such services are well defined for many of the planet’s ecosystems, like forests and grasslands, but until now a comprehensive assessment applying the framework to glaciers had not been completed. “The reason we wanted to focus on glaciers is that we recognize that we benefit from glaciers in many ways.” Lead author David Cook, a postdoc in the Environment and Natural Resources Program at University of Iceland said in an interview with GlacierHub. “The ecosystem services perspective is quite useful in that regard.”

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