Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Call for climate sensors to gauge mountain warming risk

Dalmeet Singh Chawla in Developing countries with mountainous areas need to improve their monitoring of local climate change and its impact on drinking water sources, a report warns.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change last month (23 April), examined research on global warming in high altitude areas and concluded that there is growing evidence that mountains are warming faster than the global average. The danger is that the effects of such warming are inadequately monitored, leading to uncertainty around future drinking water supply and biodiversity protection, the paper says.

 “Where we do have good data, such as on the Tibetan Plateau, there is strong evidence that [mountains] are warming more rapidly,” says Nicholas Pepin, one of the study authors.

The paper says this could affect large populations at lower altitudes for whom mountains act as ‘water towers’ as they receive large amounts of precipitation and are the source of many rivers and glaciers.

Pepin, a climate scientist at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, says there are few climate monitoring stations at high altitudes because they are expensive to install and maintain in such areas. Therefore climate data is mostly obtained from low altitude locations, potentially skewing the picture of what is really happening on mountains, he says....

Qingzang highway—China National Highway 109, on the Tibetan Plateau. Shot by Katorisi, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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