Roundup: Nepal Symposium, Microrefugia, Climate Change


Symposium on Glaciology in High-Mountain Asia (1 – 6 March, 2015)

“The high mountains of Asia are estimated to contain one of the greatest concentrations of glacier ice outside the polar regions, and are the headwaters of rivers which support agriculture and livelihoods of over one billion people. Changes in snow, ice, and permafrost due to climatic changes will impact water resources, ecosystems and hydroelectric power generation, and will aggravate natural hazards. To understand these impacts, the symposium will provide a forum to discuss advances in measurements, modeling, and interpretation of glaciological and cryospheric changes in high mountain Asia.”

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Potential Warm-Stage Microrefugia for Alpine Plants

“In Alpine regions, geomorphologic niches that constantly maintain cold-air pooling and temperature inversions are the main candidates for microrefugia. Within such microrefugia, microhabitat diversity modulates the responses of plants to disturbances caused by geomorphologic processes and supports their aptitude for surviving under extreme conditions on unstable surfaces in isolated patches. Currently, European marginal mountain chains may be considered as examples of macrorefugia where relict boreo-alpine species persist within peculiar geomorphological niches that act as microrefugia.”

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Mountains and Climate Change

“Large mountain ranges often act as climatic barriers, with humid climates on their windward side and semi-deserts on their lee side. Due to their altitudinal extent, many mountain regions intersect important environmental boundaries such as timber lines, snow lines or the occurrence of glaciers or permafrost. Climatically induced changes in these boundaries could possibly trigger feedback processes affecting the local climate. For instance, a rising snow line and thawing permafrost could increase the risk of natural hazards as well as accelerate warming trends due to lower reflectance. Changes in these boundaries can have sharp consequences for ecosystems and can influence natural hazards, economic potential and land use.”

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