MRI News

Early in 2021, a call for proposals as part of the MRI Synthesis Workshops seed funding programme was issued. A total of eight proposals fulfilled the requirements for further consideration. Of these, two proposals were selected for funding. The first addresses mapping vegetation using high-resolution remote sensing. The second focuses on building a regional network to study carbon dynamics in peatlands along the Andes.

As part of our commitment to support our research community to advance key research questions relevant for knowledge on social-ecological systems in mountains, the MRI continues to make small grants available for MRI Synthesis Workshops. Together with MRI Working Groups, these workshops are part of current MRI Community-Led Activities, which are those activities led primarily by researchers and supported by the MRI Coordination Office through seed funding, and administrative and communications assistance.

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Mountain Research (CIRM) of the University of Lausanne, with the Labex ITTEM, hosted a hybrid workshop on 21-22 October 2021 in Sion, Switzerland, which aimed at offering a space for joint reflection and sharing of experiences on how diverse entities foster scientific research in the mountains. Representatives from the MRI were among those present.

A total of 32 individual researchers attended the workshop at the CIRM premises in Bramois, Sion, with an additional 13 researchers joining proceedings via video conference. The attendees represent some twenty institutions from Alpine countries and international networks. The objectives of this workshop were to (1) share inter- and transdisciplinary research experiences (both successes and obstacles and challenges), (2) discuss the role of this research on transformations towards sustainability, and (3) discuss and explore a possible common future between the different institutions.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) General Assembly 2021 took place December 13-17. MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler, SLC members Bryan Mark and Shawn Marshall, and Scientific Project Officer Gabrielle Vance convened the session 'Global Environmental Change in Mountain Social-Ecological Systems.'

The GEO Mountains General Meeting 2021 served as a platform for exchange, bringing participants up to speed on recent developments at GEO Mountains and inviting discussion on the activities of Task Groups. GEO Mountains participants also provided key updates on ongoing projects that could contribute to the objectives of GEO Mountains.

The sixth event in the MRI Anniversary Lecture Series took place today, celebrating 20 years since the MRI Coordination Office was founded in 2001. This series aims to showcase MRI synthesis workshop research and build capacity in the mountain research community.

GEO Week 2021 was held 22-26 November, and highlighted the many activities of the GEO work programme that address this years major milestones linked to global policy agendas, such as the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

On Thursday 25 November, GEO Week 2021 focused on the use of Earth observations data to bridge the digital divide. As a part of this, GEO members presented examples of projects and initiatives being undertaken worldwide in order to facilitate full and open access to Earth observation data, thereby promoting policy development and supporting informed decision-making. Among the initiatives participating was GEO Mountains, represented by James Thornton, GEO Mountains Scientific Project Officer, and Carolina Adler, Executive Director of the Mountain Research Initiative and GEO Mountains Co-Lead. 

Taking place as part of COP26 on 8 November, the focus of this session was on the impacts and risks of climate change in the cryosphere in Latin America, Central Asia, and the Andes, and how communities in our changing mountains can adapt. This session was contributed to by several representatives of the MRI.

The vast high latitude and high altitude cold regions of the world provide freshwater to over half of humanity. As a result of climate change, they are under threat. But which impacts of climate change are already being felt in the cryosphere? And which risks are mountain regions exposed to, both now and in the future? This session focused on Latin America, Central Asia, and the Andes aimed to address these questions, and explore adaptation options that offer potential solutions to the challenges and opportunities these regions face. It was jointly hosted by the COP26 Cryosphere Pavilion and the COP26 Geneva Cryosphere Hub.

As part of the UNFCCC COP26 Cryosphere Pavilion, Mountain Research Initiative Executive Director Dr. Carolina Adler was invited to participate in a discussion of 'Snow and Ice in Climate Change' organized by the Government of Tajikistan, the WMO, and UNESCO.

On 1 November, 'Tajikistan: Snow and Ice in Climate Change' was held as part of the Cryosphere Pavilion at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

As Sulton Rakhimzoda, Special Envoy for the President of Tajikistan on Water and Climate, highlighted in his opening address, ice and snow hold 70 percent of the world’s freshwater resources. However, climate change is accelerating the melting of the cryosphere worldwide, altering hydrological systems and changing the risk landscape. How can mountain nations create resilience against the worsening impacts of disasters and rapidly changing water availability?

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