Rising global temperatures are causing unprecedented changes in the environments of high mountain regions.
The mountain cryosphere - glaciers, snow, and permafrost - and high-altitude mountain ecosystems, provide and regulate freshwater resources for around half of the world’s population.
The ongoing changes in the distribution of precipitation and in the mountain cryosphere affect the sustainability of these ecosystems.
These, in turn, increase the risk of natural hazards, with cascading and, often, devastating effects for populations and economies in mountain regions and downstream, including in densely populated lowland areas.
Often, these threats exacerbate existing vulnerabilities of social-ecological systems.
Scientifically sound climate and hydro-meteorological information and services, e.g. multi-hazard early warning systems, are key to strengthening climate resilience and adaptation to changes in high mountain regions.
These provide necessary tools to monitor and report on specific indicators, for informing policy and decision-making on optimizing the allocation and use of resources, regarding water security and risk management, at national, local, and community level.
The World Meteorological Organization is working with partners to address these challenges.
As a first step, WMO will convene a High Mountain Summit on 29–31 October to foster a high-level dialogue and engage decision-makers and local actors . It seeks to develop a roadmap to urgently-needed, reliable and relevant knowledge and information systems supporting sustainable development and the risk reduction in mountain and downstream regions.
The Summit will identify priority actions on policy, science, observations, and services, addressing the effects of climate changes observed in high mountain cryosphere, and their impacts on downstream ecosystems, communities, and water resources.
The Summit is expected to bring together approximately 150 participants and will include high–level opening and closing plenary sessions, four thematic sessions with keynotes and panel and plenary discussions.
The Summit will seek to:
- Promote an integrated cross-sectoral approach on priority action and investments addressing impacts of climate change in high mountains.
- Identify practical steps for improving the provision of hydrological, meteorological, climate and prediction services to optimize and cryosphere and high mountain observations and access to data, and advance scientific research.
- Identify roadmaps for climate risk and early warning systems for mountain-specific and transboundary threats, including extreme events, glacial lake outburst floods, avalanches, permafrost thawing related risks, Foehn type wind storms, air pollution, and others.
- Promote closer and interactive links between science and policy at all levels of governance, ensuring science-based input to policy development and long-term adaptation strategies.
It will conclude with the adoption of a Call for Action and a roadmap for priority actions and projects.
The Summit follows shortly after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, which includes a dedicated chapter on high mountain areas.