Climate change and mountain water resources: overview and recommendations for research, management and politics
1Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland
2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland
3JBA Consulting, Skipton, North Yorkshire, UK
4School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, UK
5Imperial College, London, UK
6Mountain Research Initiative, University of Bern, Switzerland
7Center for Science in the Earth System, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
8Bureau of Hydrology, Changjiang Water Resources Commission, Wuhan, Hubei, China
9International Research Society INTERPRAEVENT, Klagenfurt, Austria
10Department for Water Management, Provincial Government of Carinthia, Klagenfurt, Austria
11Department of Environmental Sciences, Tel-Hai Academic College, Israel
12Pyrenean Institute of Ecology, Spanish Research Council, CSIC, Zaragoza, Spain
13School of Bioresources Engineering & Environmental Hydrology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
14Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Vienna, Austria
15Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, NY, USA
16National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Christchurch, New Zealand
Abstract. Mountains are essential sources of freshwater for our world, but their role in global water resources could well be significantly altered from anticipated climate change. How well do we understand these changes today, and what are implications for water resources management and for policy?
With these questions in mind, a dozen researchers – most of them with experience in collaborating with water managers – from around the world assembled for a workshop in Göschenen, Switzerland on 16–19 September 2009 by invitation of the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI). Their goal was to develop an up-to-date overview of mountain water resources and climate change and to identify pressing issues with relevance for science and society.
This special issue of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences assembles contributions providing insight into climate change and water resources for selected case-study mountain regions from around the world. The present introductory article is based on analysis of these regions and on the workshop discussions. We will give a brief overview of the subject (Sect. 1), introduce the case-study regions (Sect. 2) and examine the state of knowledge regarding the importance of water supply from mountain areas for water resources in the adjacent lowlands and anticipated climate change impacts (Sect. 3). From there, we will identify research and monitoring needs (Sect. 4), make recommendations for research, water resources management and policy (Sect. 5) and finally draw conclusions (Sect. 6).