Mountains exist in many regions of the world and are home to a significant fraction of the world population and to half of global biodiversity hotspots. Mountains make essential ecosystem services available: acting as water towers of the world, they provide freshwater to many lowland regions for domestic use, irrigation, hydropower, or industry. They provide other ecosystem services such as unique flora and fauna, critical habitat for rare and endangered species, as well as wood, snow-based recreation, and others. But mountains are very fragile environments and are among the regions that are most sensitive to climate change and to the impacts of human activities.
Many studies have found that high elevation regions are particularly sensitive to global climate change and they are considered to be "sentinels of change", since they respond rapidly and intensely to climatic and environmental modifications, with the danger of losing essential services, and menace the well-being of the people depending on high-altitude resources.
There is growing evidence, for instance, that the rate of warming is amplified with elevation, such that high mountain environments are experiencing more rapid changes in temperature than the global average or at lower elevation. This elevation-dependent warming has important implications for the mass balance of the high altitude glaciers and associated runoff, for ecosystems and farming communities, as well as for species that reside in restricted altitudinal ranges. However, because of sparse high elevation observations, there is a danger that we may not be monitoring some of the regions of the globe that are warming the most.
Based on the above considerations, the Belmont Forum partners are launching a new call for international proposals which aims at fostering research on climate, environmental and related societal change in mountain regions, considering both new measurements, recovery of existing data, and the development and use of integrated modeling strategies by adopting a strong trans- and inter-disciplinary approach.
Attention to the hydrological, ecological, societal and economic implications of the ongoing and expected environmental changes is an essential component in the proposed projects, as well as the design of adaptation measures in the face of climate and global change, regional development and sustainable development strategies for mountain regions.
Five main interconnected themes have been identified that characterize the "Mountains as sentinels of change" Collaborative Research Action. The themes of the call are:
This call seeks to advance research in different disciplines connected with these five themes, highlighting their interconnections and approaching the problems from different points of view.
Figure 1: Main bocks (themes) of the Call and their interconnections
Funding should support researchers to cooperate in consortia consisting of partners from at least three of the participating countries.
Participating countries are as following: Germany (DFG), Brazil (FAPESP), China (NSFC), France (ANR), Italy (CNR) and USA (NSF).
Programme Director: Patrick Monfray patrick.monfray(at)agencerecherche.fr
Project Officer: Johann Müller johann.muller(at)agencerecherche.fr