Research Round #1: Climate change (What effects does climate change have on mountainous environments?)

Hey everyone,

For this cycle, I will be covering the serious effects that climate change opposes to mountainous environments. This issue has become more important as we've been noticing it worse as years go by and more specifically causing not only glaciers, plants and the biodiversity in mountain regions to be severely affected but also the people who live in mountain areas.  For my first round of research, I will be going over why mountains are so susceptible to climate change and why they are seeing such unprecedented change. 

High mountain environments have been experiencing more server effects from climate change than environments at a lower level (1,2). This is known as Elevation-dependent warming (EDW) and is an ongoing research as high mountain environments have been warming faster than expected and faster than the global average. This phenomenon will wreck havoc to cryospheric systems, hydrological regimes, and biodiversity in mountainous regions, as these areas will be unable to keep up the quickly changing temperature (1,2,3). 

EDW is a bit of a challenge to interpret as there are many factors that contribute to the warming such as clouds, atmospheric water vapor, snow cover, aerosols, and the land surface and this varies from every region around the world (1,3). Another factor is that there is to be said a lack of monitoring this phenomenon around regions that are being impacted the most as they need to be adequately observed.  In consequence, these areas may oppose a serious danger to biodiversity, glaciers and the communities who live in the high mountain regions (1,4). 

Looking at the logistics of EDW it has similar feedback to albedo when in high elevation areas (remembering that snow covered areas would have a higher albedo)(3). Also, water vapor being associated with warming and elevation; as temperatures increase, atmospheric water vapor will increase and this will cause a downward longwave radiation that increases the surface temperature (3,5). This works as a positive loop causing temperatures continue to increase. 

Example: The TIBETAN PLATEAU (located in southern China)

This plateau is the world's highest and largest standing 3 miles above sea level and is the proud owner of two of the highest mountain peaks in the world (Everest and K2). (6) Evidently, this plateau has been hit hard by global warming and is one of the regions where researchers have seen EDW.  From 1961-2003, the plateau has been experiencing decreasing cloud cover during the daytime, but increasing low-level clouds at night which have caused minimum temperatures to increase. As well, on the plateau the warming rate will increase to the peak then will slightly decrease at elevation 2000-5600m. The highest of the warming is at 4400-5200m, however, this will also depend on the intensity of the warming(7). 

In conclusion, EDW is a huge factor to mountainous areas being more susceptible to the effects of climate change. For my next round of research, I'm going to be looking at melting glaciers and the dangers they can create. 

Thanks for reading!











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Original Post

Hey Danica! 

I've done some research in the past regarding climate change and extreme weather patterns, focusing on the Tibetan Plateau, so I know the severity of this subject. Many species inhabiting mountainous regions are at risk, and so I think it's great that you're shedding light on this subject!

Here are some links which may be helpful for your research (and that were helpful for me):

Good luck!  

Hi Danica!

I've actually never heard of elevation-dependant warming before, but now I know! It's scary to think that the climate is changing so fast - I wonder if it's at all irreversible? 

Here are some websites I think you should find useful for your research on melting glaciers and the dangers they pose:

Good luck!

This is really interesting, yet a very serious topic. Are you going to be looking into certain animals, that this effects? Or also what we could do to help stop this from happening? What simple everyday actions can we do to help bring climate change to an end? Do you think we could bring climate change to an end?

Good Luck with your project

Following up on what Audrey said, there is no way to end climate change because even without human activity, climate change is a natural phenomenon (that's how the ice ages were caused!). However, the problem is that human activity has accelerated climate change and caused rapid changes in a short amount of time. So I think that it would be interesting to look into what we can do about it (as a society, not as individuals, otherwise our effects will be minimal). 

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