Global News

Ice is without doubt one of the first casualties of climate change, but the effects of our warming world are not only limited to ice melting on Earth’s surface. Ground that has been frozen for thousands of years is also thawing, adding to the climate crisis and causing immediate problems for local communities.

In Earth’s cold regions, much of the sub-surface ground is frozen. Permafrost is frozen soil, rock or sediment – sometimes hundreds of metres thick. To be classified as permafrost, the ground has to have been frozen for at least two years, but much of the sub-surface ground in the polar regions has remained frozen since the last ice age.

Glaciers are set to disappear completely from almost half of World Heritage sites if business-as-usual emissions continue, according to the first-ever global study of World Heritage glaciers, co-authored by scientists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The sites are home to some of the world’s most iconic glaciers, such as the Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps, Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas, or Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae. 

The study, ‘Disappearing World Heritage Glaciers as a Keystone of Nature Conservation in a Changing Climate’, combines data from a global glacier inventory, a review of existing literature, and sophisticated computer modelling to analyse the current state of World Heritage glaciers, their recent evolution, and their projected mass change over the 21st century. The authors predict glacier extinction by 2100 under a high emission scenario in 21 of the 46 natural World Heritage sites where glaciers are currently found. Even under a low emission scenario, eight of the 46 World Heritage sites will be ice-free by 2100. The study also expects that 33 percent to 60 percent of the total ice volume present in 2017 will be lost by 2100, depending on the emission scenario.

Fausto Sarmiento, professor of mountain science in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia, USA, received the 2019 Barry Bishop Career Award in April during the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers. The award recognizes exemplary research productivity, professional contributions, and teaching excellence in the study of mountains.

Sarmiento has helped to reevaluate disciplinary and institutional approaches to sustainable development in mountain environments like the Tropical Andes. He is co-chair of the Mountains Specialist Group of the World Commission on Protected Areas and member of the World Conservation Union’s Protected Landscapes Task Force. He serves on the editorial boards for the Annals of the AAG (USA), the Journal of Mountain Science (China) and the Journal of Mountain Ecology (Spain), and he chairs the Latin American and Caribbean Mountain Research Network.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has opened the first order draft  of the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) for expert review, marking an important step in the preparation of the flagship report.

The review runs from 29 April to 23 June 2019, and interested experts can register until midnight CET on 16 June 2019 on the IPCC website. 

IPCC reports go through repeated drafts and reviews to help ensure that the report provides a balanced and comprehensive assessment of the latest scientific findings.

The deadline to register for the International Mountain Conference 2019 is fast approaching! Registration closes 15 May 2019. 

The International Mountain Conference 2019 (IMC 2019) will take place 8-12 September 2019 at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. Building upon the legacy of the Perth mountain conference series, IMC 2019 aims to encourage in-depth, cross-disciplinary exchange and collaboration, and will provide an excellent opportunity for experts from different disciplines to come together and discuss mountains, their responses to climate and other changes, and their resilience as social-ecological systems.

According to IMC 2019 organizers, to date there have been 355 registrations – meaning that over two-thirds of all researchers that submitted abstracts are currently registered. The MRI is looking forward to many contributions from the MRI community of researchers during IMC 2019, and we would like to take this opportunity to remind those who have not yet done so to register by 15 May. 

Melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic as well as ice melt from glaciers all over the world are causing sea levels to rise. Glaciers alone lost more than 9,000 billion tons of ice since 1961, raising water levels by 27 millimeters, an international research team under the lead of UZH have now found.

Glaciers have lost more than 9,000 billion tons (that is 9 625 000 000 000 tons) of ice between 1961 and 2016, which has resulted in global sea levels increasing by 27 millimeters in this period. The largest contributors were glaciers in Alaska, followed by the melting ice fields in Patagonia and glaciers in the Arctic regions. Glaciers in the European Alps, the Caucasus mountain range and New Zealand were also subject to significant ice loss; however, due to their relatively small glacierized areas they played only a minor role when it comes to the rising global sea levels.

During this year's European Geosciences Union General Assembly, the 2019 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists was awarded to Earth scientist Marie Dumont for her outstanding contribution in the field of snow sciences.

The Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists recognises the scientific achievement, in any field of the geosciences, made by an early career scientist. It is granted to four exceptional early career scientists on the occasion of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly. This year, Marie Dumont, research scientist at the National Centre for Meteorological Research in France, was among the award's recipients.  

The Networks of Centres of Excellence program has announced that the Canadian Mountain Network will receive $18.3 million in funding over five years (2019–2024) to support its ambitious research, training, and knowledge mobilization agenda.

The Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) is an alliance of partners from universities, governments, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, not-for-profits, and businesses dedicated to the sustainability of mountain environments and communities across the country and around the world.

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