High mountain glaciers and climate change: challenges to human livelihoods and adaptation

High mountain glaciers and climate change: challenges to human livelihoods and adaptation

Strengthen glacial research and modeling of glaciers to avoid floods and droughts

Climate change is causing significant mass loss of glaciers in high mountains worldwide. This report calls for accelerating research, monitoring and modeling of glaciers, snow and their role in water supplies.

Although glacier systems are inherently complex overall trends indicate that globally glaciers are receding. This is likely to accelerate in the coming decades. Impacts of the shrinkage of mountain glaciers include changes in the flow characteristics of glacier-fed rivers, glacier lake outburst floods and changing flood severity and frequency. This will most likely increase human vulnerability in concerned areas, and have major impacts on food security.

Recommendations of this report are as follows: 

  • strengthen glacial research and trans-national collaboration with emphasis on mass calculation and the effects of glacial recession on biodiversity and water resources availability downstream
  • improve modeling of precipitation patterns and effects on water availability in mountain regions, particularly in Asia and Latin America 
  • prioritise support to and development of adaptation to water-related disasters
  • prioritise programmes and support to development and implementation of adaptation strategies for too much and too little water including strengthening the role of women
  • urgently support the implementation and improvement of both small and large-scale water capture and storage systems
  • improve efficiency of current irrigation systems through the use of green technology and agricultural knowledge

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