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Monitoring for global change research in mountains
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Focal points: Gregory B. Greenwood and Claudia Drexler

Mountain Research Initiative

The Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) is a multidisciplinary scientific organization that addresses global change issues in mountain regions around the world. MRI is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich), and endorsed by the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme, the International Human Dimensions Programme, GTOS and UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. MRI’s vision is a global change scientific programme that detects the signals of global change, defines the consequences, and supports sustainable resource management.


The Global Change in Mountain Regions (GLOCHAMORE) project was supported by the EU's Sixth Framework Programme, and managed by MRI and the University of Vienna since 2003, with the support of scientists and site managers of more than 50 nations. The aim has been to develop an integrated and implementable research strategy that would enable better understanding of the causes and consequences of global change. Critical to strategy development was the participation of 28 UNESCO Mountain Biosphere Reserves (MBRs) and the integration of activities and knowledge from both natural and social sciences.

Thematic workshops

As part of GLOCHAMORE, MRI co-organized four thematic workshops (see below), focused on the four key global change research activities: monitoring; process studies; modelling; and sustainable natural resource management. These four activities were defined in the founding report of MRI (IGBP Report 49). Through these workshops MRI tapped the knowledge of global change researchers and reserve managers from industrialized and developing countries, as well as enhancing awareness of global change in the mountains community.

The monitoring workshop (Vienna, Austria, May 2004) proposed monitoring at several different intensities for the alpine cryosphere, mountain waters and terrestrial ecosystems. An example taken from the workshop report for glaciers appears in the table top right.

Land use and land cover mapping and GIS
The modelling workshop (L'Aquila, Italy, November 2004) emphasized, inter alia, the importance of land use and land cover change (LUCC) mapping and GIS. Land use is such a fundamental feature of biosphere reserves and their environment that mapping rather than sampling is required. Beyond that, participants felt that without basic GIS skills and hardware at each biosphere reserve, it would nearly impossible for MBRs to monitor current conditions or project future conditions.

Socio-economic variables
Socio-economic monitoring was central to the workshop on sustainable development (Granada, Spain, March 2005). Minimal, medium and maximal lists of socio-economic indicators were generated, from simple population variables such as total number, age structure and gender structure, to more complex variables such as agricultural productivity and land tenure. These socio-economic indicators were further reviewed by regional breakout groups for relevance in different regions of the world.

Process studies
The last GLOCHAMORE workshop focused on Process studies (Samedan, Switzerland, July 2005).


GTOS participated in the final deliberations of GLOCHAMORE to ensure mutual reinforcement of overall aims, strengthening the TEMS Mountain Module and the conclusions in the GLOCHAMORE report. The final GLOCHAMORE research strategy contains proposals for environmental and social monitoring that should contribute to the Mountain Module of TEMS with respect to its use for global change. These monitoring recommendations will assist site managers to track the impacts of global change on their reserves – an important first step towards developing effective adaptation programmes.

Publication of the Research Strategy

The Open Science Conference (OSC) on Global Change in Mountain Regions (Perth, Scotland, UK, October 2005) was the final GLOCHAMORE activity. The conference synthesized the work of the previous two years and finalized the GLOCHAMORE Research Strategy, published in December 2005. The document is organized by themes, starting with drivers of global change, continuing with the impacts on ecosystems, their goods and services and on people's well-being, and closing with themes related to adaptation. The strategy provides researchers and managers with a planning and implementation guide for global change research.



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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   15 Janauary 2007