MRI at the International Mountain Conference 2022
MRI News
article written by MRI
30.01.22 | 09:01

The International Mountain Conference 2022 will take place 11-15 September in Innsbruck, Austria. Join representatives of the MRI for a number of exciting Focus Sessions!

The International Mountain Conference 2022 (IMC2022) aims to build upon the previous mountain conferences and continue this scientific conference series exclusively targeted towards mountain research. Hosted in the Alps, IMC2022 is a key opportunity for experts from different disciplines to discuss mountain-related issues in a cross-disciplinary setting. The key goals of the conference are to synthesize and enhance our understanding of mountain systems, in particular their response and resilience to global change.

MRI at IMC2022

ID08: Assessing Vulnerabilities and Resilience to Mountain Hazards

First Author: Sven Fuchs | Co-Authors: Bernhard Gems, Margreth Keiler (MRI SLC Member), and Maria Papthoma-Köhle

Keywords: Natural hazard risk; Risk management; Risk reduction; Societal impact; Vulnerabilities; Resilience

Losses and negative impacts caused by natural hazards increase worldwide. Research, however, is targeted mainly at the assessment of the natural processes themselves, rather than on their interaction with the built environment and affected communities. The understanding of this interaction and its assessment is the key to vulnerability reduction and increasing of resilience to natural hazards in mountain areas and beyond.
In this session, we welcome studies unveiling the dynamic root causes of vulnerability and aiming at the analysis and reduction of all its dimensions (physical, economic, social, environmental, cultural and institutional). Moreover, contributions focusing on the resilience of affected communities and the built environment to natural hazards in all phases of the disaster cycle and particularly the reconstruction phase (“build back better”) are of special interest. Additionally, we invite submissions concentrating on knowledge management, innovative data collection techniques, and citizen science related to the vulnerability and resilience of the elements at risk.

ID10: Changes in Snow Cover in Mountainous Regions of the Earth

First Author: Wolfgang Schöner | Co-Authors: Christoph Marty and Shawn Marshall (MRI SLC Member)

Keywords: Climate change, mountain snow cover, snow data, spatio-temporal trends, EDCC, effects of snow changes, research gaps

Climate change clearly affects the amount and distribution of snow in mountains in space and time, although this relationship is not simple. For example, several studies show that the response of mountain snow cover to climate change (i) is not a simple effect of temperature change, and depends on: (ii) geographical location (climate zone), (iii) latitude, and (iv) regional atmospheric influences (e.g. interaction with synoptic-scale atmospheric flows). However, the observational capacity and the process understanding of these interactions varies across mountain regions. The aim of this session is to bring together the knowledge and experience of researchers from different mountain regions of the world working on climate change-induced changes in snow cover, to present the current state of understanding and to identify research gaps. Given the general importance of snow for ecology, the economy and for human life in general, researchers from different and interdisciplinary fields are encouraged to contribute.

This event is organized by the Joint Body on the Status of Mountain Snow Cover, a collaboration between the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences, the World Meteorological Organization, and the Mountain Research Initiative.

ID33: Life After Ice

First Author: Caroline Aubry-Wake | Co-Authors: Bryan Mark (MRI SLC member), Emilio Mateo, Michael Baraer, Alfonso Andres Fernandez Rivera, Robert Herllstrom, Jeffrey McKenzie, and Lauren Somers.

  • Keywords: hydrology, groundwater, vegetation, geomorphology, periglacial or pro-glacial, ecosystem services, water quality

    As glaciers retreat, newly exposed landscapes are emerging from below the ice. Under different climates and topography, these fresh mountain landscapes see varying rates of vegetation colonization, geomorphologic evolution and changes in hydrologic functioning that influence the hydrologic and ecosystem services provided by mountain systems. We welcome submissions across disciplines discussing monitoring efforts, field-based and modelling studies of the eco-hydrological processes, patterns and evolution within deglaciating landscapes. Particular attention will be given to contributions exploring the influence of these changing landscapes on surface water and groundwater flow, water quality, vegetation growth, and natural hazards at different scales. We also welcome submissions exploring how mountain communities interact with these newly deglaciated landscapes or are impacted by changing eco-hydrologic functioning of the watershed.

    ID37: Mountain Climate change Adaptation: Data, Knowledge, and Governance

    First Author: Carolina Adler (MRI Executive Director,  Adaptation at Altitude) | Co-Authors: Luis Daniel Llambí C., Alexandra Grace Mackey, James Thornton, Philippus Wester and Matthias Jurek

    Mountains are at the frontline of climate change, with degrading cryosphere and changing precipitation disrupting water flows and ecosystem dynamics, creating and worsening natural hazards that impact communities both in mountains and downstream. For centuries, mountain people have developed coping strategies to adapt. However, the unprecedented magnitude and speed of climate change in recent decades are putting them under pressure. In its sixth assessment, the IPCC underscores a need to substantiate how adaptation can reduce climate risks, thereby minimising negative impacts on people. This session, convened by the Adaptation at Altitude programme consortium supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, invites contributions that showcase methods, solutions, and experiences implementing adaptation, including governance, interregional exchange and platforms that support knowledge transfer and strengthen adaptability. We also seek to promote dialogue and critical reflections on the scalability and transferability of adaptations across diverse regions and priorities.

    ID48: Obtaining and Integrating Interdisciplinary Mountain Data

    First Author: James Thornton (MRI / GEO Mountains) | Co-Authors: Carolina Adler (MRI, eLTER, and GEO Mountains)

    Keywords: Earth observations, interdisciplinary, long-term monitoring, numerical modelling, policy impacts, GEO Mountains

    Mountain data collection and modelling efforts are still often conducted in narrow disciplinary silos. Consequently, datasets obtained in different campaigns may be somewhat “incommensurate”. Long-term and socio-economic data are also often notoriously lacking. In turn, key interactions and feedbacks operating across mountain socio-ecological systems may remain poorly understood and/or represented in models. We encourage contributions that, a priori, take highly interdisciplinary/holistic and/or long-term approaches to data collection, collation, integration, or numerical modelling – e.g. efforts measuring multiple variables, perhaps using alternative approaches (in situ, remote sensing), across spatial and elevational gradients, or modelling studies that are informed by (or synthesise) a broad range of observational data (e.g. via calibration, assimilation, and/or evaluation) to deliver improved decision-relevant predictions. Open science principles should ideally be followed. We anticipate a rich discussion on the challenges inherent to working across traditional disciplinary and methodological boundaries.

    ID52: Pathways Towards Nature-Based Adaptation and Transformation in Mountains 

    First Author: Ana Stritih and Sandra Lavorel | Co-Authors: Adrienne Grêt-Regamey (MRI Principal Investigator) and Bruno Locatelli

    Keywords: Nature-based solutions, transformation, adaptation, ecosystem services, nature’s contributions to people, path dependencies

    Uncertain, novel changes to mountain social-ecological systems caused by climate change mean that we can no longer assume the ecosystems and ecosystem services that support livelihoods and contribute to individual and collective wellbeing will be supplied in the same way in the future. The adaptation of socio-ecological systems to these changes requires not only reactive actions, but a deliberate transformation, and a reframing of the relationship between people and nature. This session focuses on transformative adaptation of mountain social-ecological systems under climate change, particularly with regards to nature-based solutions, and the path dependencies and trade-offs that occur along these transformation pathways.

    We welcome contributions tackling questions such as:

    (1) What is the role of ecosystem services or Nature’s Contributions to People in adaptation to climate change in mountains?

    (2) Which key characteristics of mountain socio-ecological systems help pave the way for adaptation and transformation options?

    (3) What are the main path dependencies that limit future adaptation and transformation options?

    (4) What datasets and modelling approaches can help us understand transformation pathways?

    ID55: Robust Impact Model Projections in Mountains

    First Author: Fabien Maussion | Co-Authors: Lilian Schuster, Shawn Marshall (MRI SLC member), and Martin Ménégoz

    Keywords: Impact models, climate projections, uncertainty, precipitation, glaciology, hydrology, ecology

    Impact models are fundamental tools to predict future changes in the mountain hydrosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere. Their projections form the backbone of climate adaptation policies. It is therefore crucial that their uncertainties are well constrained and communicated to stakeholders. However, recent studies have shown that the uncertainties provided by individual impact models are likely to be underestimated, not least because of a tacit agreement that most of the uncertainty stems from climate projections.

    In this session, we aim to bring together impact model users and developers from all disciplines of mountain science to discuss the difficult topic of uncertainty. We welcome contributions around the following topics:

    – dynamical and statistical downscaling approaches
    – parameter uncertainty quantification
    – model intercomparisons
    – communicating uncertainties
    – identification of key gaps to reduce and quantify uncertainty

    This session is open to anyone interested in an exchange of experiences and struggles with uncertainty in complex mountain settings.

    ID57: Science-Based Pathways to Sustainability in Mountains

    First Author: Gilles Marciniak | Co-Authors: Carolina Adler (MRI Executive Director), Davnah Urbach, and Sandrine Paillard

    Keywords: sustainable development, pathways, transformations, global change, networks, mountains

    Knowledge on pathways towards sustainability is growing, and also in mountain contexts. Likewise, the literature on sustainable mountain development (SMD), as well as the number of sustainability-oriented initiatives in mountain regions, are proliferating. However, evidence on if and how these initiatives contribute to changes in the fabric of legal, political, economic, and social-ecological systems in mountains, as advocated to achieve transformative change, remains elusive and difficult to systematically account for at the relevant scales. Based on examples of sustainability initiatives, this session aims to engage with researchers in a process of joint learning on science-based pathways for SMD, initiate a reflection on the concepts and theories of change adopted in formulating science-based pathways, and substantiate how systemic and transformative change could be supported in mountains. We seek to encourage engagement with and contributions to efforts within the Future Earth “Science-based pathways for sustainability” initiative, with experiences in mountain contexts.

    ID67: Sustainability of Mountain Social-Ecological Systems across Africa 

    First Author: Rob Marchant (MRI SLC Member) | Co-Authors: Jessica Thorn, Aida Cuni Sanchez, Bob Nakileza and Vincent Ralph Clark

    Keywords: Africa, social-ecological systems, climate change, sustainable development, ecosystem science, nature-based solutions

    Mountains are among Africa’s most dramatic landscapes and are vital to the lives of Africa’s 1.2 billion people. Montane environments are, and were, attractive areas within wider landscapes due to their high diversity of natural resources, high agricultural productivity, supply of fuel, their reliable water supply, cooler climate, storehouses of biodiversity. Interacting pressures from changing climates, socio-economic development, population growth, intensification of competing land uses, and national and international policies all threaten the future sustainability and resilience of mountain social-ecological systems (MtSES) across Africa.. Interactions among these components of MtSES are complex and characterised by high degrees of uncertainty; understanding the drivers and implications of the co-evolution between people and the environment in MtSES demands new thinking, new analytical tools and novel combinations of expertise if we are to envisage and pursue sustainable, equitable pathways into the future.

    ID73: Towards Climate Neutrality in Mountains

    First Authors: Lauren Lecuyer and Christopher Scott | Co-Authors: Susanne Wymann von Dach, Carolina Adler (MRI Executive Director), F. Sebastián Riera, Biraj Thapa and Wenling Wang

    Keywords: Climate change policies, transition processes, territorial governance, renewable energy, energy transitions, hydropower, climate change, policy, governance

    Climate change severely affects mountain regions. The need to develop territorial policies to mitigate climate change, including through energy transitions, is especially relevant given that climate governance is still state-centered and suffers from an “implementation deficit”. Since the inclusion of the Paris Agreement conditions in national political agendas, their implementation at the local level has encountered several obstacles. In mountain areas, bottom-up systematic transition processes that rest upon innovative participative and territorial models of governance can enable and enhance buy-in and cooperation. Mountain regions face a range of energy-pathway choices in the context of accelerated climate change, Nationally Determined Contributions for emissions, and mountain communities’ own development aspirations. This session aims to gain insights into initiatives towards climate neutrality in various mountain regions around the world, discuss key challenges of policy implementation and address mountain-specific energy transitions (solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower, biomass, biochar and other forms of renewable carbon)

    ID76: Transforming Mountain Foodscapes 

    First Author: Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel | Co-Authors: Theresa Tribaldos (MRI Principal Investigator)

    Keywords: Food systems, landscapes, social-ecological systems, sustainable development, justice, global change, mountains

    Mountain foodscapes are undergoing rapid changes as a result of climate change, migration both to and from rural areas, urbanization, and market integration. While these changes have in some cases led to increased pressure on local livelihoods and ecosystems, they have in others resulted in a more environmentally friendly and equitable management of mountain foodscapes. What are the factors that drive transformations towards more sustainability and justice in mountain foodscapes? Mountain foodscapes are understood here as social-ecological landscapes of food production, including food system actors located outside these mountain landscapes, namely in cities and in the lowlands. In this session, we welcome contributions on case studies that address transformations of mountain foodscapes towards increased sustainability and justice for mountain communities and ecosystems. We are interested in exploring the drivers and factors of such transformation processes, the local responses they generate, and the enabling conditions for more sustainable and just foodscapes in different contexts.

    ID75: Transformational Adaptation of Social-Ecological Mountain Systems

    First Author: Randy Muñoz | Co-Authors: Luis Daniel Llambi C., Holger Frey, Fabian Drenkhan, Christian Huggel (MRI Principal Investigator), Manuel Peralvo and Mauricio Cerna

    Keywords: Adaptation, Climate Change, Ecosystem services, Transformational adaptation, Policymaking, Social-ecological system

    Multiple and often cascading impacts affect mountain social-ecological systems, their services, and the livelihoods of local communities that depend on them at increasing pace and magnitude. This situation highlights the need to implement novel approaches that potentially transform places at larger scales or intensity and support long-term adaptive responses of social-ecological mountain systems to reduce their vulnerabilities.

    Several initiatives have implemented a broad set of incremental and transformational adaptation (i.e. nature-based solutions, ecosystem-based adaptation, eco-disaster risk reduction, sustainable land management, inclusive multi-level and multi-sector governance). Nevertheless, a comprehensive understanding of the successfulness of these experiences in mountain regions and further lessons learned are yet limited.

    In this Focus Session we welcome contributions that cover adaptation experiences of social and ecological systems as well as their interactions in mountain regions including but not limited to interdisciplinary and local or regional case studies.

    ID77: UNESCO MAB World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves

    First Author: Paola Fontanella Pisa | Co-Authors: James Thornton (MRI / GEO Mountains), Stefan Schneiderbauer, Carolina Adler (MRI Executive Director), Maria Cardenas, Martin Price, Thomas Schaaf, Günter Köck and Sebastian Boret Penmellen

    Keywords: Global change, mountains, social-ecological systems, science-policy, biosphere reserves, sustainable development, UNESCO

    UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Biosphere Reserves (BRs) are ideal spaces in which to learn about sustainable development in social-ecological systems, involving local communities and stakeholders in research, planning, and management. To date, UNESCO has designated 727 BRs; of these, 65% are in mountains. To improve the prospects of supporting sustainable development in these BRs, the UNESCO MAB relaunched its World Network of Mountain BRs. The Network connects actors working in mountain BRs, including BR managers/coordinators, scientists, universities and research centres, local communities, UN agencies, associations, and NGO’s. To help inform the Network’s activities, this session invites contributions on research being undertaken at mountains BRs that address at least one of the following Network priorities:

    – Citizen science & grassroots innovation
    – Climate change
    – Cross-border cooperation & science diplomacy
    – Cultural values & languages
    – Disaster risk & impact assessments
    – Education
    – Governance
    – Indigenous & local knowledge
    – Sustainable management
    – Water & forest resources

    ID83: Patterns of Elevation Dependent Climate Change in Mountains

    First Author: Nicholas Pepin | Co-Authors:  MRI Elevation Dependent Climate Change Working Group

    Keywords: Climate change, elevation dependent warming, temperature, precipitation, trends, mountains

    Mountains cover about 25% of Earth’s surface, providing vital resources such as water for both high-elevation ecosystems and billions of people. Multiple drivers of global change impact mountain ecosystems and those downstream. Understanding patterns of past/future temperature and precipitation changes within mountain regions, especially comparative studies across contrasting mountain regions, remains key to help address impacts of climatic change. Nearly all mountain regions are warming, some areas faster than nearby lowlands (elevation-dependent warming). There is a transition from snowfall to rainfall in many locations. There is a reduction in orographic enhancement of rainfall/snowfall evident in many datasets, but there remain large uncertainties in the measurement of mountain precipitation. This session invites studies (in situ observations, remote sensing, model simulations) of patterns of warming and precipitation changes, and other related variables (e.g. snow cover, wind), in mountain regions to help consolidate our knowledge on elevation dependent climate change.

    IMC Mountain Resilience “De-Conference” – 6 October 2022

    Organizers:  Tobias Luthe and Romano Wyss (MRI Resilience Working Group Co-Leads)

    In foresight of IMC 2022 in Innsbruck this September, we look forward to the many resilience related sessions and topics at offer. Some members of our Mountain Resilience Working Group will be present in Innsbruck, and we encourage formal and informal exchange.

    As an offer by the MRI Resilience Working Group, we plan a virtual “De-Conference” or “debrief” after IMC. The idea is to meet one evening (Innsbruck time) online on Zoom, with the support of a visual dialogue on Miro, to listen to those of us who could attend IMC (onsite or virtual), and who would like to share their impressions of the resilience related discourse at IMC. For those who cannot attend, this is the chance to get fresh, direct insights from the conference.

    Based on this IMC recap, we will use the second part of our debrief session to discuss implications for our Working Group on Mountain Resilience and planned activities for 2023.

    Date: Thursday, 6 October 2022
    Time: 8-9.30pm CEST (Innsbruck time)
    Location: Zoom

    We look forward to IMC and our debrief soon after!

    Visit the MRI Booth

    We invite you to come to our booth to meet our team, learn more about the MRI, or just say hello! Our booth will be located in the exhibitor space in the lobby of the SOWI building (main IMC venue).

    For more information about IMC2022, please see the IMC2022 website.

    Learn more. 

     Cover image by Marco Carli.