High Mountain Summit: Outcomes and Outlook

Adler, Carolina; Pomeroy, John; Nitu, Rodica (2020). High Mountain Summit: Outcomes and Outlook. WMO Bulletin, 69(1), pp. 34-37. World Meteorological Organization

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The WMO High Mountain Summit on 29-31 October 2019 concluded with a Call to Action and a roadmap of priority activities. The priority actions aim to support more sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation both in high-mountain areas and downstream.

Mountain regions cover about a quarter of the Earth’s land surface. They are important sources of freshwater, centres of biological and cultural diversity as well as traditional knowledge, being home to a quarter of the world’s population. High-mountain areas include all mountain regions where glaciers, snow or permafrost are prominent features of the landscape (IPCC). River basins with headwaters in the mountains supply freshwater to over half of humanity, thus mountains are often referred to as “the water towers” of the world.

However, rising global temperatures are causing changes to mountain meteorology, hydrology, and ecology, including the cryosphere – snow, glaciers, frozen ground. Natural hazards, environmental alterations and the loss of critical mountain ecosystems are increasing the risk of local and downstream disasters. Large mountain regions play a key role in the evolution of large-scale weather systems. The anticipated increase in uncertainty in water availability from mountain rivers is a significant risk factor for local and downstream agriculture, forestry, food production, fisheries, hydropower production, transportation, tourism, recreation, infrastructure, domestic water supply and human health.

The WMO Summit highlighted that – in spite of the above facts – Earth system processes over complex mountain terrain are insufficiently observed and understood to confidently model their behaviour. Consequently, the resulting impacts of those changes on people and economies have not been well-articulated in major international policy frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction or the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. As water security is becoming one of the greatest challenges for humanity, and a source of political tension within and between nations, the absence of such references makes the task of developing and implementing relevant policies much more difficult.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Adler, Carolina


500 Science
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology


World Meteorological Organization


[1265] Mountain Research Initative




Carolina Adler

Date Deposited:

04 Mar 2021 11:58

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:46





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