IPCC Announces Details of a Report Chapter on High Mountains

On 17 August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced the list of experts it has invited to work on a major document, the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC).

Hans Poertner, co-chair of IPCC WG II and an ecophysiologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute (source: youtube).

Hans Poertner, the co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, underscored the importance of this report. In a statement issued by the IPCC, he noted that the report “is unique in IPCC history.” He added, “[It] reflects the increasing awareness of how important and at the same time how fragile the ocean is as a life-sustaining unit of our planet. The ocean offers many services to ecosystems and humankind, from climate regulation to food supply.” He explained the decision to link oceans and the cryosphere in the report by stating, “At the same time, ocean-cryosphere-atmosphere interactions will shape sea-level rise as a major challenge to human civilization.” Working Group II is the unit within IPCC which assesses climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

Debra Roberts, Working Group II co-chair added, “As an IPCC Special Report focused on two Earth systems which together cover the majority of the planet’s surface and which affect the majority of the global population, a diverse and skilled author team is critical in ensuring a report of the highest policy relevance.”

The role of mountains and glaciers in this report was underscored by IPCC vice-chair Ko Barrett, who said, “The IPCC looks forward to working with experts from around the world on this important topic that impacts billions of people, from the high mountains and polar regions to the coasts.” Barrett chaired the scientific steering committee for the scoping meeting, held in Monaco in December 2016, that drafted the outline of the Special Report.

Regine Hock (right), a Coordinating Lead Author on SROCC, and a glaciologist at the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, during a research trip to the Jarvis Glacier in the Alaska Range in 2014 (source: University of Alaska).

From a total of 569 individuals who were nominated from 57 countries, the IPCC selected 101 experts from 41 countries, each of whom was assigned to one of the report’s six chapters. Each of the chapters has about a dozen Lead Authors, who have the responsibility for preparing the contents of the chapters. Each chapter also has two or three Coordinating Lead Authors, who are charged with providing oversight to assure comprehensive coverage and balance of topics and perspectives, and two or three Review Editors, who are tasked with making sure that the Authors give proper consideration to the substantive comments which arrive during the review stages. Of these experts for SROCC, 69 percent are men and 31 percent women. The distribution by the type of nation is roughly similar, with 64 percent coming from developed countries and 36 percent from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. 74 percent of the selected are new to the IPCC process.

The names, affiliations and other details of the experts assigned to Chapter 2, High Mountain Areas, are appended below. A number of these experts work at institutions in mountain countries, or are citizens of mountain countries. Full details are available at the IPCC website.


  Last Name First Name Role Gender Country Citizenship Current Affiliation
1 HOCK Regine CLA F USA Germany University of Alaska Fairbanks
2 RASUL Golam CLA M Nepal Bangladesh International Center for Integrated Mountain Development
3 ADLER Carolina LA F Switzerland Australia Mountain Research Initiative
4 CÁCERES Bolívar LA M Ecuador Ecuador INAMHI, Ecuador
5 GRUBER Stephan LA M Canada Germany Carleton University
6 HIRABAYASHI Yukiko LA F Japan Japan University of Tokyo
7 JACKSON Miriam LA F Norway UK Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate
8 KANG Shichang LA M China China State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences
9 KUTUZOV Stanislav LA M Russia Russia. Russian Academy of Sciences
10 MILNER Alexander LA M UK UK University of Birmingham
11 MOLAU Ulf LA M Sweden Sweden University of Gothenburg
12 MORIN Samuel LA M France France Météo-France
13 ORLOVE Ben LA M USA USA Columbia University
14 ADITI Mukherji RE F Nepal India International Centre of Integrated Mountain Development
15 KASER Georg RE M Austria Italy University of Innsbruck, Austria


This mountain chapter is expected to be about 30 pages in length. It will be comprised of six sections, which integrate natural and social systems. The first is physical processes, the observed and projected changes in mountain cryosphere (glaciers, permafrost, and snow), and the common drivers of change, and feedbacks (e.g., CH4 emissions, albedo) to regional and global climate. The next two focus on impacts: the effects of a changing mountain cryosphere on natural hazards and management options for protecting lives, livelihoods, infrastructure, and ecosystems; and impacts from changes in the mountain environment, including low latitudes (e.g., Himalayas, Andes, Africa) on habitability, community livelihoods and culture. A fourth section examines risks and responses, with emphasis on risks for societies that depend on mountain cryosphere for water resources (e.g., human consumption, ecosystems and agriculture), including cascading risks, and potential response strategies (e.g., national and international water resource management and technologies). Links to energy systems, and thus to climate mitigation as well as to economic issues, appear in the fifth section, which addresses impacts of variability and trends in water supply on hydropower production and implications for energy policy and water governance. The final section connects high mountains to other regions, examining the influence of mountain cryosphere run-off on river and coastal systems and sea level.

Golam Rasul (right), a Coordinating Lead Author on SROCC, and a development economist at ICIMOD, at a conference International Conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development in 2011 (source: IISD).

Other chapters and sections in the SROCC address the framing and context of the report; polar regions; sea level rise and implications for low-lying islands, coasts and communities; changing ocean, marine ecosystems, and dependent communities; and extremes, abrupt changes and managing risks, as well as a summary for policy-makers, a technical summary, and ancillary materials (case studies, frequently asked questions, text boxes). The IPCC has provided a detailed schedule of activities for this Special Report. A series of four multi-day lead author meetings will allow for preparation of the first, second and final drafts; these meetings will alternate with three review periods, each about two months long, in which comments will be provided by experts and governments. The first Lead Authors meeting will take place in 2–6 October 2017, in Fiji, with later meetings over the following year and a half. The IPCC approval of the Summary for Policymakers and acceptance of the Special Report is scheduled for late September 2019.

Kang Shichang, a Lead Author on SROCC, and director of State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (source: CAS.CN).

This Special Report is one of three that the IPCC is preparing as part of the assessment cycle that will also lead up to the Sixth Assessment Report. The first of these reports, scheduled to be finalized in September 2019, is on Global Warming of 1.5°C. It considers the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. The other, also scheduled for September 2019, is Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. In addition, a methodology reported will be completed by May 2019. It is titled “2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.” The lists of authors and review editors for these reports are also available from the IPCC.

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