Faculté des sciences

Glacier monitoring and capacity building: important ingredients for sustainable mountain development

Nussbaumer, Samuel U. ; Hoelzle, Martin ; Hüsler, Fabia ; Huggel, Christian ; Salzmann, Nadine ; Zemp, Michael

In: Mountain Research and Development, 2017, vol. 37, no. 1, p. 141–152

Glacier observation data from major mountain regions of the world are key to improving our understanding of glacier changes: they deliver fundamental baseline information for climatological, hydrological, and hazard assessments. In many mountain ecosystems, as well as in the adjacent lowlands, glaciers play a crucial role in freshwater provision and regulation. This article first presents the... More

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    Summary
    Glacier observation data from major mountain regions of the world are key to improving our understanding of glacier changes: they deliver fundamental baseline information for climatological, hydrological, and hazard assessments. In many mountain ecosystems, as well as in the adjacent lowlands, glaciers play a crucial role in freshwater provision and regulation. This article first presents the state of the art on glacier monitoring and related strategies within the framework of the Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GTN-G). Both in situ measurements of changes in glacier mass, volume, and length as well as remotely sensed data on glacier extents and changes over entire mountain ranges provide clear indications of climate change. Based on experiences from capacity-building activities undertaken in the Tropical Andes and Central Asia over the past years, we also review the state of the art on institutional capacity in these regions and make further recommendations for sustainable mountain development. The examples from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Kyrgyzstan demonstrate that a sound understanding of measurement techniques and of the purpose of measurements is necessary for successful glacier monitoring. In addition, establishing durable institutions, capacity-building programs, and related funding is necessary to ensure that glacier monitoring is sustainable and maintained in the long term. Therefore, strengthening regional cooperation, collaborating with local scientists and institutions, and enhancing knowledge sharing and dialogue are envisaged within the GTN-G. Finally, glacier monitoring enhances the resilience of the populations that depend on water resources from glacierized mountains or that are affected by hazards related to glacier changes. We therefore suggest that glacier monitoring be included in the development of sustainable adaptation strategies in regions with glaciated mountains.