Outcomes of GEO Mountains Regional Workshop in Caucasus
MRI News
article written by MRI
30.08.23 | 08:08

On the 5 July 2023, the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), GEO Mountains, the Scientific Network for the Caucasus Mountain Region & Sustainable Caucasus, UNEP/GRID-Geneva, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) co-convened a workshop in Kutaisi, Georgia within the context of the Caucasus Mountain Forum 2023.  

A previous workshop held in September 2021 showed that the data coverage in the region remains somewhat lacking in certain regards, both spatially and temporally. Key data gaps identified were related to energy, natural hazards, water, and waste management.

To follow this previous consultation, the June workshop sought to bring together data providers and data users from a range of disciplines working across the Caucasus in person. To complement other ongoing work (e.g. the Caucasus Environmental Outlook), the workshop focused on:

  • The coverage and availability of in situ data;
  • Exchanges opportunities for capacity sharing; and,
  • Potential data exploitation activities.

During the workshop, participants discussed the potential to establish multi-disciplinary Mountain Observatories (MOs) in the region. Although currently most in situ observations are for operational purposes and are limited to specific themes (primarily weather and climate), the potential could exist to develop a MO in the Kazbegi region, where there are already nearby meteorological stations as well as a GLORIA site. Across the wider Caucasus region, according to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), there are 10 glaciers with at least some historical in situ glacier mass balance estimates, which – especially if still actively monitored – could also act as “nodes” around which enhanced, integrated monitoring programmes could be developed.

In the afternoon, participants were informed about, and discussed, different options for increasing the exchange of data and capacities between the research and operational communities. For instance, participants learnt about the activities under WMO to engage more extensively with the research community and integrate their data into WMO systems (e.g. in the form of “recommended data” in WIS2.0). Possible alternative approaches such as the OCG SensorThings API were also presented.

In the final discussion, it was made clear that certain barriers with respect to in situ data accessibility remain to be overcome, but several ways forward were proposed. For instance, a pilot collaborative project could be developed to expose in situ data from a small number of stations whose data can be shared via SensorThings. 

The workshop also demonstrated the need for improved climate change projections from the region, which sits at the extremities of existing regional climate model domains, was identified as a critical need. If such work could be conducted in a collaborative manner, and include in situ data from all countries in the region, the resultant products would benefit a wide range of applications, both research and practical.

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Cover image by GEO Mountains.