International Mountain Day
Monitoring global change in mountains - the GTOS -TEMS Mountain Module
The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) was created in 1996 with the support of five international organizations (FAO, ICSU, UNEP, UNESCO, WMO). GTOS is a global system for observation, modelling and analysis of terrestrial ecosystems to support sustainable development. Its mission is to facilitate access to reliable information on terrestrial ecosystems so that researchers and policy makers can detect and manage global change. TEMS (Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites), an important component of the GTOS Programme, is an international directory of sites and networks that carry out long-term terrestrial monitoring and research activities.
Mountains are high risk environments that occur in all climatic zones of the earth. They are susceptible to natural hazards such as avalanches, glacial lake outbursts, landslides and earthquakes that threaten life. In addition, mountain regions are very sensitive to anthropogenic changes, including land use and land cover changes, acidic deposition, rising CO2 concentrations and climatic change. Due to an increasing demographic pressure on the earth's ecosystems, the demand on mountain resources (e.g. on water) will become more intense in the future and the potential for conflicts over their use will grow. To avoid severe conflicts as well as to conserve and sustainably develop one of the most precious environments on earth, it is crucial to improve the management and protection of mountain ecosystems and to deepen observations.
Following the International Year of Mountains 2002, the GTOS Secretariat decided to develop a mountain-specific module within TEMS in order to respond to the call for improved knowledge about mountain ecosystems and facilitate access to data and information. The Module includes networks and sites relevant to mountain issues and features a list of primary indicators, data holders and maps with specific information on mountains. Most important, the module allows users to make queries on sites which are specific to mountain issues and it links global environmental and socio-economic data for mountain ecosystems.