Mountains of the world: Vulnerable water towers for the 21st century (2004)

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Mountains as "Water Towers" play an important role for the surrounding lowlands. This is particularly true of the world's semi-arid and arid zones, where the contributions of mountains to total discharge are 50 - 90%. Taking into account the increasing water scarcity in these regions, especially for irrigation and food production, then today's state of knowledge in mountain hydrology makes sustainable water management and an assessment of vulnerability quite difficult. Following the IPCC report, the zone of maximum temperature increase in a 2 x CO2 state extends from low elevation in the artic and sub-artic to high elevation in the tropics and subtropics. The planned GCOS climate stations do not reach this elevation of high temperature change, although there are many high mountain peaks with the necessary sensitive and vulnerable ecosystems. Worldwide, more than 700 million people live in mountain areas, of these, 625 million are in developing countries. Probably more than half of these 625 million people are vulnerable to food insecurity. Consequences of this insecurity can be emigration or overuse of mountain ecosystems. Overuse of the ecosystems will, ultimately, have negative effects on the environment and especially on water resources. New research initiatives and new high mountain observatories are needed in order to understand the ongoing natural and human processes and their impacts on the adjacent lowlands.
Year: 2004
Language: English
In: Ambio - A Journal of the Human Environment. Ambio Special Report 13, November 2004. Copyright Swedish Academy of Science 2004,



 Record created 2011-12-21, last modified 2013-01-17