Hosted by the MRI in May, this GEO GNOME Status and Scoping Workshop focused on different needs for mountain data and the role of GEO GNOME in curating and providing this data. The actions planned as a result of this workshop will improve both the spatial and thematic span of mountain data, as well as the availability of mountain data for policy information needs.

The GEO GNOME (Group on Earth Observations Global Network for Observation and Information in Mountain Environments) Status and Scoping Workshop was called in order to review and bring to fruition the recently revised GEO GNOME work plan for 2018-2019. Active participants of the GEO GNOME effort, as well as others identified as having key expertise on the subject matter, were invited to attend.

Science and policy needs for better data from mountain environments

The workshop began with a knowledge-sharing session, followed by discussions on two different yet related topics: ‘Earth observation infrastructures and information: supply and demand, addressing knowledge needs’ and ‘Science of mountain observations – data and processes’. Examples from participants’ past and current projects showed that, in addition to research, there is a need for mountain specific data at different policy levels. Thematic and spatial gap analyses for global mountain data, as well as infrastructure for collecting this data and making it available, are required. GEO GNOME could help bridge these gaps, particularly in relation to knowledge needs articulated by global assessments and their global policy contexts.

DSC 0033 smallParticipants agreed that climate is a key driver in the environmental and socio-ecological changes that manifest in mountains. Hence, monitoring and collecting data on key climate variables in the mountain space remains an important task. However, it is important to ensure that climate data collected, catalogued, and made accessible is relevant and is combined to serve a variety of end users’ knowledge needs. A transect network of in-situ climate data over elevation gradients was suggested as a method for better understanding the processes of elevation dependent climate change, and as a standardized way of producing new observational data in the mountains.

Decisions for bridging thematic and spatial data gaps and improving data availability

It was decided that all GEO GNOME work should be legitimated by policy information needs, and that GEO GNOME should operate at two levels: communicating the global importance of mountains and the need for mountain-specific working instruments and data resources, and promoting GEO GNOME work and products; and providing mountain observation data and knowledge to meet policy information needs.

The information delivery will be implemented through the provision of a metadata portal and data catalogue, which will be improved by mapping pre-existing data providers in mountain environments. The specific need for spatial socio-ecological data will be addressed by producing a new data layer capturing socio-ecological aspects. Data availability will be improved by making the Global Mountain Explorer (GME) tool accessible through the GEOSS portal as a mirror site. Finally, a global campaign to collect standardized in-situ data over elevation gradients will be established in order to improve the spatial distribution and utility of high elevation climate data in the context of understanding mountain climate change.

DSC 0019 smallGEO GNOME will organise two targeted workshops by autumn 2019 in order to fulfil the actions listed above. The first GEO GNOME Workshop for ‘Socio-Ecological Data’ will focus on methods and data needs for capturing socio-ecological aspects in a new data layer. The second GEO GNOME workshop will have two sessions: one focusing on Elevation Transect Data’ with the aim of identifying essential climate variables (ECVs) required in high elevation contexts, defining protocols for data collection and standards, and writing a position paper for scientific publication. The follow-up session Mountain Climate Change’, will aim to identify essential ‘mountain’ variables’ for socio-ecological systems, including methods for integration between in-situ, earth observations, and modelling.

All the conceptual changes and suggested actions will be made available in the revised version of the 2016-2019 GEO GNOME Work Plan later this year.


The Group on Earth Observations Global Network for Observation and Information in Mountain Environments (GEO GNOME) is a GEO Work Programme Initiative that seeks to connect and facilitate access to diverse sources of mountain observation data and information regarding drivers, conditions, and trends in biophysical and socio-economic processes of change at different scales.

Read the full workshop report here.
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