Environmental Science Mountain Environments
Ellen Wohl
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 March 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199363445-0094


Mountain ranges occur on every continent, at latitudes from the equator almost to both poles. A region is defined as mountainous if elevation varies by at least 984 feet over a radius of 4.34 miles. Using this internationally agreed-upon definition, mountains cover 24 percent of Earth’s land surface. As of 2003, 12 percent of the world’s population lives in mountains and another 14 percent live nearby. As reviewed in Martin Price’s highly readable introduction to mountains, parts or all of the eight locations in the world that were original centers for the domestication of plants are mountainous. These areas—along the Andes, around the Mediterranean, Central America, the Middle East, Ethiopia, central Southeast Asia, China, and India—were also sites where many animals were first domesticated. Mountainous regions continue to supply vital natural resources, including minerals, timber, and water, and are culturally important in the context of religion and recreation. Environmental issues associated with mountains include those related to changing climate, population growth and subsistence use of resources, commercial resource use, habitat fragmentation and disconnectivity, and natural hazards. Changing climate is of particular concern in mountainous regions for at least four reasons. First, atmospheric warming is occurring most rapidly at high latitudes and high altitudes, and this warming is significantly affecting the characteristics of persistent ice (glaciers, permafrost) and seasonal snowpacks. Second, in many parts of the world, mountainous regions are disproportionately important in supplying water to adjacent lowlands during warm, dry periods of the year, and changing climate is altering this water-supply function of mountains. Third, changing climate creates specific hazards for biotic communities because cold-tolerant or snow-dependent organisms may not be able to migrate to higher altitudes as climate warms or to migrate between high-altitude refugia in a manner that sustains genetic diversity. Finally, changing climate increases natural hazards associated with slope failures as glaciers retreat and permafrost degrades. Environmental issues around population growth and subsistence use of resources are not unique to mountains but are of great concern to human communities beyond the mountains because of the importance of mountains in supplying resources such as water to adjacent lowlands. Commercial resource use is of concern both to natural and human communities in mountains and human communities in adjacent lowlands, again because of resource subsidies such as streamflow from mountains to lowlands. This article starts with works related to the distinctive physical, ecological, and cultural characteristics of mountains and then focuses on the environmental issues specific to mountains.

General Overviews

Price 2015 provides a concise but comprehensive introduction to various physical, ecological, and cultural aspects of mountainous regions around the world. This is the broadest general overview on mountains as a distinct type of landscape or ecosystem.

  • Price, M. F. 2015. Mountains: A very short introduction. Very Short Introductions 444. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/actrade/9780199695881.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Comprehensive and readable introduction to the physical and human geography of the world’s mountainous regions; includes discussions of hydrology, biodiversity, human communities, and climate change. An excellent starting point for learning about the unique characteristics of mountains and the diversity among specific mountain ranges.

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    The journals cited in this section address all aspects of mountain science. Mountain Research and Development is the older and more well-established journal, and Journal of Mountain Science is a newer journal, but the contents of the journals overlap substantially and include articles on physical, ecological, and social sciences.

    Physical Characteristics of Mountains

    The geographic distribution of mountains, the types of rocks composing the mountains, and the three-dimensional structure of these rocks all reflect the history of movement of tectonic plates across Earth’s surface, as explained in Frisch, et al. 2011. Kesler and Simon 2015 focuses on the mineral resources that result from these tectonic plate movements. De Jong, et al. 2005 discusses how mountainous topography interacts with atmospheric circulation to create the spatially heterogeneous weather and climate of mountainous regions. Chow, et al. 2013 also examines characteristics of mountain weather, with an emphasis on wind patterns in mountains. Wohl 2010 summarizes the distinctive characteristics of river networks in mountainous regions, and Armanini and Di Silvio 1991 examines the hydraulics of mountain streams. Together, the works cited here provide an overview of mountain geology, physical geography, mineral resources, and river networks.

    • Armanini, A., and G. Di Silvio, eds. 1991. Fluvial hydraulics of mountain regions. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

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      An edited collection of papers covering diverse aspects of flow in steep channels; steep gradients, coarse grain sizes, and high temporal variability in water and sediment inputs to mountain channels create distinctive conditions that are not well described by standard equations for hydraulics and sediment transport. This pioneering volume discusses alternative equations.

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      • Chow, F. K., S. F. J. De Wekker, and B. J. Snyder, eds. 2013. Mountain weather research and forecasting: Recent progress and current challenges. Springer Atmospheric Sciences. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

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        Includes chapters on diverse aspects of wind, precipitation, and weather forecasting and modeling in mountainous environments; especially comprehensive treatment of the unique aspects of atmospheric circulation and wind in mountainous regions.

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        • de Jong, C., D. Collins, and R. Ranzi, eds. 2005. Climate and hydrology in mountain areas. Chichester, UK: John Wiley.

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          Climatic variables in mountainous regions are highly spatially variable and difficult to measure and predict; this edited collection of papers summarizes the state of knowledge and provides several case studies for specific mountain regions in terms of snow and ice melt, soil water and permafrost, evapotranspiration and water balance, and climate change impacts on hydrology.

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          • Frisch, W., M. Meschede, and R. Blakey. 2011. Plate tectonics: Continental drift and mountain building. Berlin: Springer.

            DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-76504-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            Movements through time among the tectonic plates that compose Earth’s outer layer explain the geographic distribution and geologic structure and composition of mountains; this volume provides a good introduction into plate tectonics and the geologic processes that create and maintain mountains.

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            • Kesler, S. E., and A. C. Simon. 2015. Mineral resources, economics and the environment. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Mineral resources occur outside mountainous regions, but a large proportion of these resources are within mountains because of the geologic processes that emplace minerals. This work summarizes the origin of mineral deposits, as well as the exploration technology, law, economics, and technology of locating, extracting, and processing minerals, and the environmental effects of these activities.

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              • Wohl, E. 2010. Mountain rivers revisited. Water Resources Monograph 19. Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union Press.

                DOI: 10.1029/WM019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                Comprehensive review of the distinctive characteristics of rivers in mountainous regions, including hydrology, hydraulics, sediment dynamics, channel morphology, aquatic biota, human influences on rivers, and hazards associated with rivers in steep terrain.

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                Ecological Characteristics of Mountains

                The works cited here describe how the diversity of climate, topography, soils, and ecological history in mountainous regions influences biotic communities. Mountain environments are unique because steep topographic gradients create compression of climatic zones and habitat diversity, as reviewed in Jingyun, et al. 2004 and Körner 2007. Although mountain biotic communities typically display distinct zonation with elevation, microclimates and associated biotic diversity are also present. Within a particular mountain area, increasing altitude to some extent corresponds to increasing latitude in terms of climate and the adaptations of biota living at that altitude. Partly as a result of significant environmental diversity over relatively small spatial areas, montane ecosystems are hot spots of biological diversity, as discussed in Lomolino 2001. Some of this biological diversity reflects the continued presence of plants and animals that were more widespread during episodes of colder climate and in the early 21st century persist only in mountainous areas. Cold-adapted mountain species are now particularly at risk as warming climate drives them toward higher altitudes and limits their ability to disperse between high-altitude refugia. Epps, et al. 2006 discusses these issues for desert bighorn sheep in the southwestern United States. Krajick 2004 and Ray, et al. 2013 examine the plight of American pikas, small mammals that require alpine tundra habitat and may be facing extinction as treeline advances upward. Holtmeier 2009 reviews the distinctive characteristics of treeline—the boundary between forest and alpine communities—including the sensitivity of this boundary to warming climate. Hamilton, et al. 1995 emphasizes that understanding patterns of habitat heterogeneity caused by environmental gradients in mountains is critical for conservation planning and management, while Körner 2003 provides a thorough introduction to the adaptations, species diversity, and geographic distribution of alpine plants. Notaro, et al. 2011 provides an example of cross-linkages between habitat requirements of mountain biota and warming climate by noting examples of predator-prey relationships, such as those for Canada lynx, which are closely tied to the presence of snowpack.

                • Epps, C. W., P. J. Palsbøll, J. D. Wehausen, G. K. Roderick, and D. R. McCullough. 2006. Elevation and connectivity define genetic refugia for mountain sheep as climate warms. Molecular Ecology 15.14: 4295–4302.

                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.03103.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  Examines effects of warming and drying since the late 20th century on populations of desert bighorn sheep in Southern California mountains. Populations in low-elevation habitats are stressed, as reflected in lower genetic diversity resulting from more fluctuations in population size; the authors found effects as well as limits to population connectivity caused by roads and other infrastructure. Higher elevation habitats act as reservoirs of genetic diversity.

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                  • Hamilton, L. S., J. O. Juvik, and F. N. Scatena, eds. 1995. Tropical montane cloud forests. Ecological Studies 110. New York: Springer-Verlag.

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                    Edited collection examining diverse aspects of a specific type of mountain environment; individual chapters include physical controls on these ecosystems, conservation status and management, and biogeography and ecology of geographically diverse montane cloud forests.

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                    • Holtmeier, F.-K. 2009. Mountain timberlines: Ecology, patchiness, and dynamics. 2d ed. Advances in Global Change Research 36. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

                      DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9705-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      The boundary between mountain forests and alpine plant communities is particularly sensitive to warming climate and has a rich history of research. This work provides a good introduction to all aspects of timberline ecology.

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                      • Jingyun, F., S. Zehao, and C. Haiting. 2004. Ecological characteristics of mountains and research issues of mountain ecology. Biodiversity Science 12.1: 10–19.

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                        Overview of how mountainous topography influences spatial zonation of organisms and biodiversity via influences on distribution of solar radiation, heat, moisture, and soil; also covers the ecological importance of mountains and discusses current research topics in mountain ecology, including the need to develop appropriate methods for quantifying ecologically relevant aspects of topography.

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                        • Körner, C. 2003. Alpine plant life: Functional plant ecology of high mountain ecosystems. 2d ed. Berlin: Springer.

                          DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-18970-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          Useful introduction and systematic review of the special adaptations of plants to life in climatically harsh alpine environments, as well as the species diversity of alpine regions and geographic distribution of different types of alpine plants.

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                          • Körner, C. 2007. The use of “altitude” in ecological research. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 22.11: 569–574.

                            DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.09.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            Notes that altitudinal gradients provide powerful natural experiments for testing ecological and evolutionary responses of biota to changing physical influences; emphasizes the importance of distinguishing altitudinal gradients associated with meters above sea level, including atmospheric pressure and temperature, from those that are not altitude specific, such as moisture, hours of sunshine, or wind.

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                            • Krajick, K. 2004. All downhill from here? Science 303.5664: 1600–1602.

                              DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5664.1600Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              Discusses American pikas as an example of alpine organisms that may be forced into extinction by warming climate. Alpine tundra composes 3 percent of the vegetated terrestrial surface and is shrinking as climate warms; populations of pikas confined to high-elevation peaks since the last glacial maximum are now disappearing.

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                              • Lomolino, M. V. 2001. Elevation gradients of species-density: Historical and prospective views. Global Ecology and Biogeography 10.1: 3–13.

                                DOI: 10.1046/j.1466-822x.2001.00229.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                Early biogeographers focused on the effects of elevation on biodiversity and the composition of ecological communities, and modern mountain biogeographers are again emphasizing elevation-related patterns through using statistically rigorous tests to analyze the effects of diverse environmental variables; observed patterns result both from ecological and evolutionary processes.

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                                • Notaro, M., D. J. Lorenz, D. Vimont, S. Vavrus, C. Kucharik, and K. Franz. 2011. 21st century Wisconsin snow projections based on an operational snow model driven by statistically downscaled climate data. International Journal of Climatology 31.11: 1615–1633.

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                                  Downscales output from global climate model to drive an operational snow model at the state level; resulting snow projections are used to guide wildlife scientists seeking to understand impact of climate change on habitat availability for diverse species.

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                                  • Ray, C., E. Beever, and S. Loarie. 2013. Retreat of the American pika: Up the mountain or into the void? In Wildlife conservation in a changing climate. Edited by J. F. Brodie, E. Post, and D. F. Doak, 245–270. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                    Example of how cold-dependent mountain species must either move upward in elevation as climate warms, or face extinction. This work discusses the American pika, a small herbivorous mammal native to western North America; pikas have already disappeared from some mountain ranges and are at risk of extinction in many others.

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                                    Human Communities in Mountains

                                    The works cited here include geographically diverse case studies of human interactions with mountains with respect to scientific and communal attitudes toward mountains, patterns of subsistence resource use in mountains, and the socioeconomic and political vulnerability of small or marginalized populations in mountain regions. Both Cosgrove and della Dora 2008 and Price, et al. 2013 are edited collections that include works on each of these topics. Even where people live year-round in mountains, it is common to vary resource use seasonally, with summer grazing of domestic animals or planting of crops at elevations higher than those of communities occupied throughout the year. This pattern is common in the European Alps. Human occupation of some mountainous regions is only seasonal, particularly at higher latitudes. Jewell, et al. 2007 provides an example of a more focused case study and describes traditional use of high-elevation summer pastures for cattle in the Swiss Alps. Although not always the case, mountain communities commonly have smaller populations than adjacent lowlands, which can render the mountain communities economically and politically vulnerable, especially if lowland communities seek to use mountain resources. Although population is increasing in mountainous regions of North and South America, Africa, and Asia, the population in European mountains decreased during the second half of the 20th century, with the exception of a few international tourist destinations. Falcucci, et al. 2007 discusses population trends in the mountains of Italy and implications for conserving biodiversity. Southworth and Tucker 2001 provides a case study of reforestation in western Honduras as a result of changing land use practices despite continued population growth. Rasul and Thapa 2003 reviews the mixed success of efforts across Asia to replace traditional shifting cultivation with land use patterns that are more sustainable for larger populations. Smith and Krannich 2000 examines potential differences in attitudes between longer-term residents with rural occupations and newcomers seeking scenic and recreational opportunities in small communities of the US Rocky Mountains; contrary to expectations, the two groups have similar attitudes toward population growth and further economic development.

                                    • Cosgrove, D., and V. della Dora, eds. 2008. High places: Cultural geographies of mountains, ice and science. International Library of Human Geography 15. New York: I. B. Tauris.

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                                      Edited collection that explores the attitudes and experiences of scientists working in mountain regions in the past, including historical expeditions in which scientists were among the first outsiders to visit a mountainous area and its human communities.

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                                      • Falcucci, A., L. Maiorano, and L. Boitani. 2007. Changes in land-use/land-cover patterns in Italy and their implications for biodiversity conservation. Landscape Ecology 22.4: 617–631.

                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10980-006-9056-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Measurable increase in forest cover within Italian mountains during the period 1960 to 2000 reflects decreasing human population density as people increasingly move to coastal regions; populations of upland forest animals are consequently increasing, whereas populations of coastal Mediterranean species are declining.

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                                        • Jewell, P. L., D. Käuferle, S. Güsewell, N. R. Berry, M. Kreuzer, and P. J. Edwards. 2007. Redistribution of phosphorus by cattle on a traditional mountain pasture in the Alps. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 122.3: 377–386.

                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2007.02.012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          Describes traditional patterns of land use in the Swiss Alps, with low-elevation areas used to grow grain and higher-elevation pastures used for summer cattle grazing; examines how redistribution of nutrients by grazing cattle affects distribution of soil nutrients and plant species.

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                                          • Price, M. F., A. C. Byers, D. A. Friend, T. Kohler, and L. W. Price, eds. 2013. Mountain geography: Physical and human dimensions. Rev. ed. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                            An edited collection introducing basic physical characteristics of mountains, including geologic structure, climate, ice and snow, surface processes, soils, and vegetation, as well as attitudes toward mountains, human communities in mountains, and land use and sustainable development in mountains. Good introduction to mountains as distinctive environments.

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                                            • Rasul, G., and G. B. Thapa. 2003. Shifting cultivation in the mountains of South and Southeast Asia: Regional patterns and factors influencing the change. Land Degradation & Development 14.5: 495–508.

                                              DOI: 10.1002/ldr.570Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              Traditional shifting cultivation has become unsustainable as population grows. The article reviews checkered success of efforts to replace it with sustainable alternatives, and socioeconomic, institutional, and policy differences underlying different levels of success; concludes that transition can be successful only when reinforced by ownership rights to land, development of infrastructure, and provision of support services.

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                                              • Smith, M. D., and R. S. Krannich. 2000. “Culture clash” revisited: Newcomer and longer-term residents’ attitudes toward land use, development, and environmental issues in rural communities in the Rocky Mountain West. Rural Sociology 65.3: 396–421.

                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1549-0831.2000.tb00036.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Evaluates potentially different attitudes among longer-term rural residents and newcomers seeking outdoor scenic and recreational amenities in mountain communities of the US Rocky Mountains; surveys from three such communities indicate little or no difference in attitudes toward population growth, economic development, tourism, and the environment. Explores reasons that reality differs from media accounts.

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                                                • Southworth, J., and C. Tucker. 2001. The influence of accessibility, local institutions, and socioeconomic factors on forest cover change in the mountains of western Honduras. Mountain Research and Development 21.3: 276–283.

                                                  DOI: 10.1659/0276-4741(2001)021[0276:TIOALI]2.0.CO;2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  Understanding interactions between human and ecological communities in mountains partly depends on mapping and quantifying rates of land cover change; the authors provide an example of characterizing forest cover change in western Honduras between 1987 and 1996, where reforestation exceeded deforestation as a result of a local ban on logging and agricultural concentration with abandonment of marginal lands.

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                                                  Environmental Issues in Mountains

                                                  The works cited here address the five basic categories of environmental issues mentioned in the introduction to this article: Climate Change, Population Growth and Subsistence, Commercial Resource Use, Habitat Fragmentation and Disconnectivity, and Natural Hazards. Changing climate in mountains is affecting diverse aspects of the natural environment and many aspects of human communities, analogous to lowlands, but climate change in mountains is particularly noteworthy for the effects on mountain glaciers and the type (snow versus rain) and abundance of precipitation. Advances in medical treatment, improved standards of living, and burgeoning lowland populations that encroach on mountain environments all are fostering population growth in mountains. This strains the ability of mountain environments to support either subsistence use of resources or communities dependent on adjacent lowlands for the majority of the resources they consume. Commercial exploitation of resources, including timber, coal, metals, water, and recreational opportunities, changes natural environments and human communities in ways that are not necessarily desirable. Fragmentation of habitat and limits on the ability of plant and animal populations to migrate to new habitat or to maintain genetic exchange among geographically isolated populations result from climate change and land use. Finally, mountains include several categories of natural hazards that are inherent in the geologic, climatic, and topographic characteristics of steep terrain. Natural hazards in mountains can also be enhanced both by human activities and climate change.

                                                  Climate Change

                                                  The effects of ongoing climate change in mountainous regions are of concern for many reasons. As noted herein, mountains are the water towers for many regions of the world. The Himalayas contain the largest mass of ice outside the polar regions, for example, and are the source of the ten largest rivers in Asia. Barnett, et al. 2005 notes that one-sixth of Earth’s population relies on glaciers and seasonal snowpacks for their water supply. Mountain glaciers and winter snowpacks store water for sustained release during the warm season, supplying both natural and human communities in the mountains and the adjacent lowlands during the growing season. Viviroli, et al. 2011 reviews current knowledge of modern and project warming trends and implications for water supply. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states with high confidence that warming will cause changes in the seasonality of river flows in regions that currently receive substantial winter precipitation in the form of snow. Rapidly retreating mountain glaciers are currently producing increased runoff, but decreases in water yield will occur over the next few decades as glaciers lose mass. Shifts in seasonality and changes in total runoff will present challenges for water management, which is currently based on historical climate and hydrologic patterns. As Xu, et al. 2009 discusses, changes in temperature and water supply that influence glaciers and snowpacks cascade through natural and human communities in complicated ways that are difficult to predict and, therefore, to mitigate. Still, et al. 1999 provides an example of how projected changes in climate will stress a specific ecosystem—that of tropical montane cloud forests.

                                                  • Barnett, T. P., J. C. Adams, and D. P. Lettenmaier. 2005. Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions. Nature 438.7066: 303–309.

                                                    DOI: 10.1038/nature04141Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Synthesizes global records and discusses how shift to peak river runoff in winter to early spring decreases water availability during summer and autumn, when demand is highest; unless water storage capacity is increased in vulnerable regions, climate change consequences for populations relying on mountain-supplied river flow are likely to be severe.

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                                                    • Still, C. J., P. N. Foster, and S. H. Schneider. 1999. Simulating the effects of climate change on tropical montane cloud forests. Nature 398.6728: 608–610.

                                                      DOI: 10.1038/19293Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Explores changes in tropical montane cloud forests during last glacial maximum (LGM) and future climate scenarios. Cloud forests moved downslope during the LGM; predicted upward movement of the appropriate relative-humidity surface and increased evapotranspiration under warming climate are likely to seriously stress the highly biodiverse cloud forest ecosystems, which have limited space available for upward elevational shifts.

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                                                      • Viviroli, D., D. R. Archer, W. Buytaert, et al. 2011. Climate change and mountain water resources: Overview and recommendations for research, management and policy. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 15.2: 471–504.

                                                        DOI: 10.5194/hess-15-471-2011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Synthesizes eleven case study regions to examine understanding of early-21st-century climate changes and implications for water resources management and adaptation to climate change; identifies research priorities related to different aspects of the hydrologic cycle and the need to develop more-detailed regional studies, more-reliable scenario projections, better integration across disciplines, and better communications between researchers and managers.

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                                                        • Xu, J., R. E. Grumbine, A. Shrestha, et al. 2009. The melting Himalayas: Cascading effects of climate change on water, biodiversity, and livelihoods. Conservation Biology 23.3: 520–530.

                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01237.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Nice discussion of the cascading effects of climate change on natural and human communities, including effects on water availability, biodiversity, ecosystem boundaries, and global-scale feedbacks such as storage of organic carbon in soils. Calls for increased coordination and collaboration in research and policy to more effectively respond to and mitigate effects of climate change.

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                                                          Melting Glaciers

                                                          Mountain glaciers have been the great Quaternary sculptors of mountainous landscapes. As alpine glaciers gained and lost mass during climatic fluctuations, the glacial ice eroded broad valleys during glacial advance and released substantial water and sediment during retreat. Most of the approximately 120,000 alpine glaciers have been in accelerating retreat as climate has warmed during the 20th century. This creates opportunities for organisms to colonize newly exposed terrain, changes local climate, and alters downstream water supply. The latter effect has received the most attention because mountain glaciers are like a savings account for water. Incremental additions to the glacier over millennia are now being lost as glacial ice melts at a rate faster than new additions each winter. This is changing water supply to downstream regions, but the effects will become more severe once the glaciers melt completely. Glacial ice and mountain snowpacks sustain streamflows throughout drier and warmer seasons, and loss of this base flow will affect natural and human communities. Numerous studies examine 20th-century and future trends in glacier conditions. The works cited here illustrate a few of these studies. Bradley, et al. 2006 draws on climate models to predict loss of Andean glaciers and associated water yield. Vuille, et al. 2008 discusses how smaller, lower-elevation glaciers are likely to disappear completely. Sorg, et al. 2012 synthesizes studies across the Tien Shan region of central Asia that demonstrate declines since the late 20th century in glacier ice and seasonal water supply. Scherler, et al. 2011 provides a cautionary note by illustrating that the rate of glacier retreat also partly depends on rockfalls and landslides that introduce sediment on top of the glacier, thus insulating the glacier ice and slowing the loss of glacier mass. McCabe and Fountain 2013 examines regional variations in glacier retreat. Although there is strong consensus that loss of glacier mass will decrease summer and autumn water supplies in the long term, as illustrated in Immerzeel, et al. 2010, there is debate regarding the effect of melting of mountain glaciers on global sea level rise. Arendt, et al. 2002 provides an example of studies arguing for an important role of mountain glaciers in contributing to sea level rise, while Jacob, et al. 2012 demonstrates that melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contributed more to global sea level rise observed between 2003 and 2010 than did mountain glaciers. Radić and Hock 2011 projects rates of melt and sea level rise from mountain glaciers to the year 2100.

                                                          • Arendt, A. A., K. A. Echelmeyer, W. D. Harrison, C. S. Lingle, and V. B. Valentine. 2002. Rapid wastage of Alaska glaciers and their contribution to rising sea level. Science 297.5580: 382–386.

                                                            DOI: 10.1126/science.1072497Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Uses airborne laser altimetry to quantify rates of volume loss in sixty-seven Alaskan glaciers during the latter half of the 20th century, then extrapolates these rates to all Alaskan glaciers to estimate total change in annual runoff volume; results in largest glaciological contribution to rising sea level measured to that time.

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                                                            • Bradley, R. S., M. Vuille, H. F. Diaz, and W. Vergara. 2006. Threats to water supplies in the tropical Andes. Science 312.5781: 1755–1756.

                                                              DOI: 10.1126/science.1128087Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Uses climate model predictions of faster warming at higher elevations to project losses in Andean glaciers and associated changes in water supply to lower elevations; a precursor of subsequent, more detailed studies such as Vuille, et al. 2008.

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                                                              • Immerzeel, W. W., L. P. H. van Beek, and M. F. P. Bierkens. 2010. Climate change will affect the Asian water towers. Science 328.5984: 1382–1385.

                                                                DOI: 10.1126/science.1183188Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Comprehensive and systematic summary of projected changes in ice volumes, precipitation patterns, and river flow for major Asian river basins, including the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, and Yellow Rivers, which sustain more than 1.4 billion people; the Brahmaputra and Indus drainages are most susceptible to reductions in river flow.

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                                                                • Jacob, T., J. Wahr, W. T. Pfeffer, and S. Swenson. 2012. Recent contributions of glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise. Nature 482.7386: 514–518.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1038/nature10847Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Uses satellite data to quantify loss of mass on glaciers and ice sheets from January 2003 to December 2010; mountain glaciers and icecaps contribute 0.016 inches per year to sea level rise, whereas the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets contribute 0.042 inches per year. Nice example of the type of information that can be derived from the GRACE satellite data.

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                                                                  • McCabe, G. J., and A. G. Fountain. 2013. Glacier variability in the conterminous United States during the twentieth century. Climatic Change 116.3–4: 565–577.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0502-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Nice examination of temporal trends in glacier retreat, as well as regional and glacier-size variations in sensitivity of retreat rate to temperature and precipitation.

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                                                                    • Radić, V., and R. Hock. 2011. Regionally differentiated contribution of mountain glaciers and ice caps to future sea-level rise. Nature Geoscience 4.2: 91–94.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1052Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Projects volume change for more than 120,000 mountain glaciers and ice caps under 21st-century projections of climate and temperature; excluding ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, loss of mountain ice will increase global sea level by 3.94 inches, with the largest contribution from glaciers in Arctic Canada, Alaska, and Antarctica.

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                                                                      • Scherler, D., B. Bookhagen, and M. R. Strecker. 2011. Spatially variable response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change affected by debris cover. Nature Geoscience 4.3: 156–159.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1068Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Variable rates of glacier retreat and limited glacial mass-balance data complicate efforts to understand regional climate change impacts in the Himalaya; spatial variations in glacial change reflect both topography and climate; glaciers with thick sediment cover produced by rockfalls and landslides in basins with steep terrain are more stable than glaciers on the subdued terrain of the Tibetan Plateau.

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                                                                        • Sorg, A., T. Bolch, M. Stoffel, O. Solomina, and M. Beniston. 2012. Climate change impacts on glaciers and runoff in Tien Shan (central Asia). Nature Climate Change 2.10: 725–731.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1592Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Example of a regional synthesis from multiple studies. Glacier shrinkage is most pronounced in peripheral, lower-elevation mountain areas, near densely populated regions that rely on glacial and snowmelt runoff during dry summers; observed shifts in seasonal runoff are likely to grow more pronounced and to limit summer and autumn water supplies.

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                                                                          • Vuille, M., B. Francou, P. Wagnon, et al. 2008. Climate change and tropical Andean glaciers: Past, present and future. Earth-Science Reviews 89.3–4: 79–96.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2008.04.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            Tropical Andean glaciers have shrunk rapidly since c. 1850 in association with documented increases in air temperature. Projected future accelerating temperature increases will cause increased wet-season precipitation and decreased dry-season precipitation; smaller, lower-elevation glaciers are likely to disappear within a few decades.

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                                                                            Changing Precipitation

                                                                            Like glaciers, winter snowpacks are a critical component of the water supply in many mountainous regions. In temperate and high-latitude mountains, where much of the precipitation falls in winter, snowmelt during spring and early summer supplies water for river ecosystems and for human consumptive use during the growing season for crops. In river basins that do not currently have glaciers, snow is commonly the largest component of water storage, which can make these river basins vulnerable to climatic variations that influence the water content and melt rate of the snowpack. Western North America exemplifies the reliance of adjacent lowlands on mountain snowpacks for water supply. The arid to semiarid lowland regions can sustain agriculture and human communities largely because of river flows sustained by snowmelt. Consequently, 20th-century trends in snowpack and snowmelt have received substantial investigation, as illustrated in Mote 2003. Investigators use records of precipitation, snow water equivalent, and stream discharge to investigate trends during the 20th century under a progressively warming climate, as illustrated in Mote, et al. 2005 for snowpack and Adam, et al. 2009 for snowmelt. These trends can be combined with climate models and projected into the future to provide insights into likely changes in water supply for mountainous regions and the lowlands that commonly depend on streamflow originating in mountains. Although shrinking glaciers and declining snowpacks are causing decreases in streamflow in many mountainous regions, Fowler and Archer 2006 documents increasing diurnal temperate ranges that result in enhanced accumulation of glacial ice in the western Himalayas. This illustrates the difficulties in generalizing across mountainous regions. Climate within a single mountain range or large mountainous drainage basin can be highly spatially variable, with complex patterns of precipitation and temperature related to elevation, and how the details of topography interact with air masses moving across the mountains is explored in Stewart 2009. These complexities observed in the modern climate record carry through to models simulating future climate change, as illustrated for the tropical Andes in Urrutia and Vuille 2009. Bhutiyani, et al. 2010 illustrates how climate warming affects global-scale circulation patterns such as El Niño–Southern Oscillation, and how changes in these circulation patterns influence temperature and precipitation in specific mountainous regions.

                                                                            • Adam, J. C., A. F. Hamlet, and D. P. Lettenmaier. 2009. Implications of global climate change for snowmelt hydrology in the twenty-first century. Hydrological Processes 23.7: 962–972.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1002/hyp.7201Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Exemplifies studies that extrapolate into the future from observed trends of smaller snowpacks and earlier snowmelt since the mid-20th century. Most areas in which snowmelt currently supplies warm-season streamflow will have a decrease in streamflow, although parts of Eurasia will receive greater snowfall; projected changes are greatest near areas that currently receive substantial snowfall.

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                                                                              • Bhutiyani, M. R., V. S. Kale, and N. J. Pawar. 2010. Climate change and the precipitation variations in the northwestern Himalaya: 1866–2006. International Journal of Climatology 30.4: 535–548.

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                                                                                Significantly increasing annual mean and winter temperatures, decreasing winter snowfall, and decreasing summer monsoon precipitation correlate with decreasing influence of large-scale circulation patterns such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Southern Oscillation; illustrates how changes in global atmospheric and oceanic teleconnections filter the effects of global warming on regional temperature and precipitation patterns.

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                                                                                • Fowler, H. J., and D. R. Archer. 2006. Conflicting signals of climatic change in the Upper Indus basin. Journal of Climate 19.17: 4276–4293.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3860.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Illustrates the complexities of changing climate and precipitation in mountainous regions. Between 1961 and 2000, diurnal temperature range increased in the Karakoram and Hindu Kush Mountains, likely because of changes associated with the Indian monsoon; in contrast to the eastern Himalayas, this region of the western Himalayas experienced glacial expansion and decreased summer streamflow.

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                                                                                  • Mote, P. W. 2003. Trends in snow water equivalent in the Pacific Northwest and their climatic causes. Geophysical Research Letters 30.12:1601.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1029/2003GL017258Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Exemplifies studies of regional trends in western North America during the 20th century; at most locations in the Pacific Northwest, especially below 5,900 feet elevation, substantial declines in snow water equivalent between 1950 and 2000 coincide with significant temperature increases and occur despite increases in precipitation.

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                                                                                    • Mote, P. W., A. F. Hamlet, M. P. Clark, and D. P. Lettenmaier. 2005. Declining mountain snowpack in western North America. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 86.1: 39–49.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-86-1-39Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      Builds on studies indicating warmer winter and spring temperatures in western North America during the 20th century; documents widespread declines in springtime snow water equivalent in western North America, especially since the mid-20th century; projects future acceleration of trends as climate continues to warm, with faster losses in milder climates such as the Cascade Range.

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                                                                                      • Stewart, I. T. 2009. Changes in snowpack and snowmelt runoff for key mountain regions. In Special issue: Hydrologic effects of a shrinking cryosphere. Edited by T. D. Prowse. Hydrological Processes 23.1: 78–94.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1002/hyp.7128Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Explores how changes in temperature and precipitation influence mountain snowpacks. The nature of the influence strongly depends on geographic location, latitude, and elevation; warmer temperatures at midelevations cause decreased snowpack and earlier melting, whereas higher elevations have increased snowpack; continued warming will likely eventually cause decreased snowpack and earlier melting at higher elevations.

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                                                                                        • Urrutia, R., and M. Vuille. 2009. Climate change projections for the tropical Andes using a regional climate model: Temperature and precipitation simulations for the end of the 21st century. Journal of Geophysical Research 114.D2: D02108.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1029/2008JD011021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Uses a regional climate model with two different emissions scenarios; model indicates significant warming of the tropical Andes, particularly at higher elevations, but precipitation changes are much less spatially coherent, with regions both of increased and decreased precipitation.

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                                                                                          Population Growth and Subsistence

                                                                                          Subsistence use of resources becomes unsustainable when resources are removed faster than they are replaced by natural processes such as regrowth of vegetation. This can occur in response to increases in population or increases in the intensity of resource use by a stable population, although both changes commonly occur together. An example comes from the use of firewood in portions of the Nepalese Himalayas popular with international tourists. Nepalese people move into the mountains from adjacent lowlands to take advantage of the economic opportunities created by tourism, leading to a demand for more firewood and more lumber for building lodges. The tourists themselves require more firewood for heating and cooking, as described in Nepal 2000. The net result is a rate of timber harvest faster than the regrowth of forests. Another example comes from overgrazing in Mongolia by goats that supply cashmere, as described in Liu, et al. 2013. Rapid population growth can also drive increasing deforestation and resource use, as documented in Ningal, et al. 2008. Resource use can also increase because rural communities resent limits on resource use imposed on them by distant governmental entities, as discussed in Zackey 2007. Huang, et al. 2008 provides an example of top-down governmental strategies to limit environmental degradation, whereas Breu, et al. 2005 provides a case study of the opposite scenario, a bottom-up approach in which all stakeholders had equal access to knowledge and participated in making decisions. Templeton and Scherr 1999 presents an alternative scenario in which population growth causes the cost of land to increase more rapidly than the cost of labor, leading to changed management strategies that can enhance sustainability. Sharma, et al. 2000 provides an example of this outcome, reviewing how adoption of cardamom as a cash crop in the Sikkim region of India has assisted the local economy without depleting soil resources in the manner of other cash crops. Scherr 2000 reviews studies that indicate diverse outcomes from population growth, and challenges the notion that population growth in developing countries inevitably results in a downward spiral of environmental degradation.

                                                                                          • Breu, T., D. Maselli, and H. Hurni. 2005. Knowledge for sustainable development in the Tajik Pamir Mountains. Mountain Research and Development 25.2: 139–146.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1659/0276-4741(2005)025[0139:KFSDIT]2.0.CO;2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Uses a case study from Tajikistan to describe a process in which values and objectives are negotiated among stakeholders, access to a comparable level of knowledge is provided to all stakeholders, and decisions taken positively affect all dimensions of sustainability. The multiyear process was successful in transmitting knowledge and facilitating innovation in resource management.

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                                                                                            • Huang, Q., Y. Cai, and X. Xing. 2008. Rocky desertification, antidesertification, and sustainable development in the karst mountain region of southwest China. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 37.5: 390–392.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1579/08-S-493.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Brief synopsis of proposed mitigation measures to reverse environmental degradation via government oversight of land use, economic structure, population growth, and enhanced ecological research to identify limits of sustainability for land use and natural communities.

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                                                                                              • Liu, Y. Y., J. P. Evans, M. F. McCabe, et al. 2013. Changing climate and overgrazing are decimating Mongolian steppes. PLoS ONE 8.2: e57599.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057599Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Increasing international demand for the cashmere wool woven from the hair of goats has led to increased stocking and grazing in the Mongolian steppes; grasslands are being degraded by this unsustainable level of a traditionally subsistence land use.

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                                                                                                • Nepal, S. K. 2000. Tourism in protected areas: The Nepalese Himalaya. Annals of Tourism Research 27.3: 661–681.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/S0160-7383(99)00105-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Examines numerous issues associated with increasing tourism in the Nepalese Himalayas, including depletion of fuel used as firewood, local inflation of goods and services and shortage of agricultural laborers, increased income inequality between communities on tourist routes and other communities, and difficulties in retaining economic benefits in local communities.

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                                                                                                  • Ningal, T., A. E. Hartemink, and A. K. Bregt. 2008. Land use change and population growth in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea between 1975 and 2000. Journal of Environmental Management 87.1: 117–124.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.01.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Striking example of rapid population growth and deforestation. Population of Papua New Guinea increased from 2.3 million to 5.2 million between 1975 and 2000, while agricultural land use grew by 58 percent; most new agricultural land came from primary forest on steep slopes.

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                                                                                                    • Scherr, S. J. 2000. A downward spiral? Research evidence on the relationship between poverty and natural resource degradation. Food Policy 25.4: 479–498.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/S0306-9192(00)00022-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Explores the common conceptualization of the link between rural poverty and environment as a downward spiral in which population growth leads to environmental degradation; reviews studies that challenge this model and indicate diverse strategies of environmental management by rural poor, as well as the efficacy of policies in influencing outcomes.

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                                                                                                      • Sharma, E., R. Sharma, K. K. Singh, and G. Sharma. 2000. A boon for mountain populations: Large cardamom farming in the Sikkim Himalaya. Mountain Research and Development 20.2: 108–111.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1659/0276-4741(2000)020[0108:ABFMP]2.0.CO;2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Example of adapting to increased resource use from population growth and tourism by adopting alternative crops; large cardamom, a plant native to the Sikkim region of India, can be grown beneath forest cover on marginal land and provides economic returns without depleting soil resources in the manner of other cash crops.

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                                                                                                        • Templeton, S. R., and S. J. Scherr. 1999. Effects of demographic and related microeconomic change on land quality in hills and mountains of developing countries. World Development 27.6: 903–918.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/S0305-750X(99)00037-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Synthesizes results from over seventy individual studies and concludes that local population growth in hills and mountains of developing countries does not necessarily threaten the sustainability of forests and agriculture or the stability of watersheds; when population growth increases the cost of land relative to labor, resource management strategies change in ways that can enhance sustainability.

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                                                                                                          • Zackey, J. 2007. Peasant perspectives on deforestation in southwest China. Mountain Research and Development 27.2: 153–161.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1659/mrd.0837Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Examining how indigenous, rural people describe their illegal timber harvest, this study highlights an underlying cause of deforestation in a resentment of being left behind as China’s economic growth creates rapidly increasing inequalities and a belief that corrupt government entities and lack of governmental support justify rapid timber harvest.

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                                                                                                            Commercial Resource Use

                                                                                                            The works cited here describe forms of resource use designed not for subsistence but for profit, either by mountain communities or by entities located primarily outside mountainous regions. The basic categories treated in this section involve timber, coal, metals, other forms of mining, water, and recreational amenities such as alpine skiing.


                                                                                                            Deforestation in diverse regions of the world is a major environmental issue because of associated loss of habitat and biodiversity; changes in climate, hydrology, and soil stability and fertility; and loss of traditional fuelwood supplies, among other concerns. The works cited here include regional case studies and studies that exemplify basic issues such as documenting rates and location of deforestation, as Achard, et al. 2002 does for humid tropical forests, and understanding the underlying causes of deforestation, as Geist and Lambin 2002 discusses for the tropics. The relative importance of commercial and subsistence timber harvesting in causing deforestation varies among regions. Ali and Benjaminsen 2004 documents deforestation driven largely by commercial timber harvesting in the Himalaya, whereas Dessie and Kleman 2007 finds that deforestation in Ethiopia results primarily from clearing for small-scale agriculture. Hall, et al. 2009 explains the importance of elevational differences in biotic communities when assigning threat levels from deforestation, and Ramírez, et al. 2003 provides an example of the biotic effects of deforestation by examining how loss of forests harms overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico. Sidle and Ziegler 2012 documents another side effect of deforestation in the form of increased landsliding caused by roads built to facilitate timber harvest. Wasson, et al. 2008 summarizes numerous studies examining whether deforestation is the primary driver of increased sediment yield from the Himalayas to the lowlands of the Gangetic Plain.

                                                                                                            • Achard, F., H. D. Eva, H.-J. Stibig, et al. 2002. Determination of deforestation rates of the world’s humid tropical forests. Science 297.5583: 999–1002.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1126/science.1070656Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Discusses how imagery obtained from Earth-observing satellites can be used to map the locations and rates of loss of forest cover; in this paper, calculated rates of tropical deforestation are 23 percent lower than generally accepted rates, with implications for calculating global carbon dynamics and biodiversity loss.

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                                                                                                              • Ali, J., and T. A. Benjaminsen. 2004. Fuelwood, timber and deforestation in the Himalayas. Mountain Research and Development 24.4: 312–318.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1659/0276-4741(2004)024[0312:FTADIT]2.0.CO;2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                Reviews the history of concerns that increased population and harvesting of fuelwood in the Himalayas have caused 20th-century environmental degradation; using a case study from a valley in northern Pakistan, demonstrates that commercial timber harvesting, rather than local fuelwood collection, is the main cause of deforestation.

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                                                                                                                • Dessie, G., and J. Kleman. 2007. Pattern and magnitude of deforestation in the south central Rift Valley region of Ethiopia. Mountain Research and Development 27.2: 162–168.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1659/mrd.0730Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  In contrast to studies from other regions identifying commercial timber harvesting as a major cause of deforestation, this study documents how the 82 percent loss of forest between 1972 and 2000 was driven primarily by small-scale agriculture, with commercial logging and commercial farms as secondary drivers.

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                                                                                                                  • Geist, H. J., and E. F. Lambin. 2002. Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestation. BioScience 52.2: 143–150.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1641/0006-3568(2002)052[0143:PCAUDF]2.0.CO;2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Explores the causes that drive deforestation in mountains and other tropical regions; deforestation results from local and regional factors that differ among geographic regions, which implies that no universal policy can be developed for limiting tropical deforestation.

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                                                                                                                    • Hall, J., N. D. Burgess, J. Lovett, B. Mbilinyi, and R. E. Gereau. 2009. Conservation implications of deforestation across an elevational gradient in the Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania. Biological Conservation 142.11: 2510–2521.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2009.05.028Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Case study from a mountain range in Tanzania that has lost 80 percent of historical forest area; examines deforestation and threats to individual tree species within specific elevational zones and emphasizes the need to distinguish elevational differences in plant and animal communities when assigning threat levels such as the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List in mountainous regions.

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                                                                                                                      • Ramírez, M. I., J. G. Azcárate, and L. Luna. 2003. Effects of human activities on monarch butterfly habitat in protected mountain forests, Mexico. Forestry Chronicle 79.2: 242–246.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.5558/tfc79242-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Examines loss of habitat for overwintering monarch butterflies as a result of wood extraction and clearance for subsistence farming; provides an example of how deforestation affects a particular migratory species that requires forest cover to successfully complete its lifecycle.

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                                                                                                                        • Sidle, R. C., and A. D. Ziegler. 2012. The dilemma of mountain roads. Nature Geoscience 5.7: 437–438.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1512Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Draws on numerous studies of the effects of road networks, many of which are associated with timber harvesting. Primary negative physical effects include increased landsliding and sediment yields to rivers, which in turn can affect water quality, flood risk, aquatic habitat, and navigation.

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                                                                                                                          • Wasson, R. J., N. Juyal, M. Jaiswal, et al. 2008. The mountain-lowland debate: Deforestation and sediment transport in the upper Ganga catchment. Journal of Environmental Management 88.1: 53–61.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.01.046Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Uses watershed-scale sediment budgets and historical information on deforestation to examine whether upland land use change in the Himalayas is affecting sediment yield to adjacent lowlands in the Gangetic Plain; concludes that the effects of deforestation on sediment yield are spatially variable, with natural processes overwhelming human effects in some areas.

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                                                                                                                            Coal Mining

                                                                                                                            Coal mining is a major environmental issue in portions of the world rich in coal deposits, including the Appalachian Mountains of the United States and portions of China. The environmental effects of coal mining derive from destruction of soils, streams, habitat, and biotic communities in the process of physically accessing subsurface coal deposits, as summarized in Pond, et al. 2008; Palmer, et al. 2010; and Bernhardt and Palmer 2011. In extreme cases, excavation to reach buried coal seams and disposal of waste rock and excess sediment result in removal of topographically high regions and burial of topographic lows, including streams. Extraction of coal and fires that can burn for many years within coal seams reduce air quality in mining areas and downwind regions, as reviewed in Kuenzer, et al. 2007. Bian, et al. 2010 discusses how land subsidence creates hazards during mining and for decades afterward.

                                                                                                                            • Bernhardt, E. S., and M. A. Palmer. 2011. The environmental costs of mountaintop mining valley fill operations for aquatic ecosystems of the central Appalachians. In Special issue: The year in ecology and conservation biology. Edited by R. S. Ostfeld and W. H. Schlesinger. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1223:39–57.

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                                                                                                                              The US southern Appalachian Mountains are a biodiversity hot spot, especially for mussels and amphibians; mountaintop mining is the dominant source of change in land cover, having converted 4,290 square miles of forest to mines and buried more than 1,240 miles of stream channel as of 2011. This article reviews environmental effects and inability to offset or reverse these effects through reclamation and mitigation.

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                                                                                                                              • Bian, Z., H. I. Inyang, J. L. Daniels, F. Otto, and S. Struthers. 2010. Environmental issues from coal mining and their solutions. Mining Science and Technology 20.2: 215–223.

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                                                                                                                                Environmental challenges resulting from coal mining include mine accidents, land subsidence, impaired water quality, disposal of mining wastes, and air pollution. This article discusses methods to mitigate contamination, remediate mining areas, and return mined lands to agricultural use.

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                                                                                                                                • Kuenzer, C., J. Zhang, A. Tetzlaff, et al. 2007. Uncontrolled coal fires and their environmental impacts: Investigating two arid mining regions in north-central China. Applied Geography 27.1: 42–62.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2006.09.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Uses a case study to examine issues around uncontrolled coal fires, which are widespread globally; environmental impacts include air quality, land subsidence, landscape degradation, water quality, and direct dangers to human health. Discusses methods that can be used to detect, monitor, quantify, and extinguish coal fires.

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                                                                                                                                  • Palmer, M. A., E. S. Bernhardt, W. H. Schlesinger, et al. 2010. Mountaintop mining consequences. Science 327.5962: 148–149.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1126/science.1180543Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Reviews the numerous environmental damages associated with mountaintop mining in the US Appalachian Mountains; mountaintop mining involves clearing upper-elevation forests, using explosives to break up bedrock in order to access buried coal, and then pushing excess rock and mine waste into adjacent valleys, where it buries existing streams.

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                                                                                                                                    • Pond, G. J., M. E. Passmore, F. A. Borsuk, L. Reynolds, and C. J. Rose. 2008. Downstream effects of mountaintop coal mining: Comparing biological conditions using family- and genus-level macroinvertebrate bioassessment tools. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 27.3: 717–737.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1899/08-015.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Waste rock dumped into adjacent valleys in the US Appalachian Mountains changes water chemistry and invertebrate species assemblages; mining activity has subtle to severe impacts on stream ecosystems, depending on the changes in water quality and the details of mining and waste disposal.

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                                                                                                                                      Metal Mining

                                                                                                                                      Metal mining is particularly common in mountainous environments because the geological processes of tectonic uplift, igneous intrusions, volcanism, metamorphism, and faulting and folding, all of which create mountains, can also result in emplacement of precious metals, including gold and silver. The works cited here discuss the numerous environmental hazards associated with metal mining. These include acid-mine drainage, as explained in Alpers, et al. 2003. Diverse technologies that are used to concentrate metals contaminate the surroundings of the mine for thousands of years, as illustrated by a site in Jordan discussed in Grattan, et al. 2007, and by a mine in Chile discussed in Higueras, et al. 2004. Contaminated tailings can be dispersed over large areas beyond the mine during a single event such as failure of a tailings dam, as Macklin, et al. 2003 describes for mountains in Romania, or during repeated episodes of erosion, as Singer, et al. 2013 documents for mercury-contaminated mining sediments in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. James 1999 and Macklin, et al. 2006 review the geomorphic processes that disperse mining contaminants, as well as measures that can be used to limit dispersal. Hettler, et al. 1997 describes the enormous volumes of sediment deposited across extensive areas in association with the infamous Ok Tedi gold mine in Papua New Guinea, and Urkidi 2010 provides a case study of local and global protests against the environmental damage caused by a mine in the Chilean Andes.

                                                                                                                                      • Alpers, C. N., D. K. Nordstrom, and J. Spitzley. 2003. Extreme acid mine drainage from a pyritic massive sulfide deposit: The Iron Mountain end-member. In Environmental aspects of mine wastes. Edited by J. L. Jambor, D. W. Blowes, and A. I. M. Ritchie, 407–430. Mineralogical Association of Canada Short Course Handbook 31. Nepean, ON: Mineralogical Association of Canada.

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                                                                                                                                        Massive sulfide ore deposits naturally enhance acidity of waters draining the deposits, but mining commonly enhances this process; mining at Iron Mountain, California, has produced some of the most concentrated acid mine drainage ever recorded. Describes regulatory and remediation history of the site.

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                                                                                                                                        • Grattan, J. P., D. D. Gilbertson, and C. O. Hunt. 2007. The local and global dimensions of metalliferous pollution derived from a reconstruction of an eight thousand year record of copper smelting and mining at a desert-mountain frontier in southern Jordan. Journal of Archaeological Science 34.1: 83–110.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2006.04.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Uses heavy-metal concentrations in sediments at one of the oldest and longest-sustained sites for smelting copper ores to infer technologies applied to concentrate metals and levels of activity; demonstrates the local and larger-scale effects of persistent metal contamination associated with mining.

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                                                                                                                                          • Hettler, J., G. Irion, and B. Lehmann. 1997. Environmental impact of mining waste disposal on a tropical lowland river system: A case study on the Ok Tedi Mine, Papua New Guinea. Mineralium Deposita 32.3: 280–291.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s001260050093Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Describes the enormous volume of sediment deposited along the Ok Tedi / Fly River network in New Guinea as a result of ongoing gold mining in the headwaters; one of the many papers resulting from this internationally recognized example of an ongoing environmental disaster associated with industrial mining.

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                                                                                                                                            • Higueras, P., R. Oyarzun, J. Oyarzún, H. Maturana, J. Lillo, and D. Morata. 2004. Environmental assessment of copper-gold-mercury mining in the Andacollo and Punitaqui districts, northern Chile. Applied Geochemistry 19.11: 1855–1864.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2004.04.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Examines concentrations of copper, arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and mercury in diverse environmental media around a region mined since the 16th century. Contamination reflects processing techniques, as well as metal content of the rock; extensive environmental contamination is present in surface water and groundwater, river sediment, and soil.

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                                                                                                                                              • James, A. 1999. Time and the persistence of alluvium: River engineering, fluvial geomorphology, and mining sediment in California. Geomorphology 31.1–4: 265–290.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/S0169-555X(99)00084-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Examines continuing channel adjustment to 19th-century placer gold mining that resulted in enormous increases in sediment yield to channels, which caused widespread channel aggradation, with implications for flood risk, stability of infrastructure in river corridors, and land use in floodplains.

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                                                                                                                                                • Macklin, M. G., P. A. Brewer, D. Balteanu, et al. 2003. The long term fate and environmental significance of contaminant metals released by the January and March 2000 mining tailings dam failures in Maramureş County, upper Tisa Basin, Romania. Applied Geochemistry 18.2: 241–257.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/S0883-2927(02)00123-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Case study that exemplifies mining-related accidents that produce widespread environmental contamination. Failure of two tailings dams spread cyanide and contaminant metals down a major tributary of the Danube River, causing fish kills and contamination of drinking-water supplies; although concentrations of some metals declined rapidly downstream, others remained elevated for long distances downstream.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Macklin, M. G., P. A. Brewer, K. A. Hudson-Edwards, et al. 2006. A geomorphological approach to the management of rivers contaminated by metal mining. Geomorphology 79.3–4: 423–447.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.06.024Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Historical metal mining can result in persistent contamination of channel and floodplain sediments by heavy metals, many of which bioaccumulate in organisms; examines processes of metal dispersion and accumulation within a geomorphic framework to identify methods to mitigate contamination.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Singer, M. B., R. Aalto, L. A. James, N. E. Kilham, J. L. Higson, and S. Ghoshal. 2013. Enduring legacy of a toxic fan via episodic redistribution of California gold mining debris. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110.46: 18436–18441.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1302295110Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Documents how alluvial fans created by sediment from 19th-century gold mining form a persistent source of sediment-adsorbed mercury to regions downstream from the mining areas; each major modern flood erodes sediment stored on the fans and delivers to lowlands a mass of sediment equal to 10–30 percent of the entire post-mining mercury mass thus far conveyed to the downstream delta and estuary.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Urkidi, L. 2010. A glocal environmental movement against gold mining: Pascua-Lama in Chile. Ecological Economics 70.2: 219–227.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.05.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Examines the social and political aspects of environmental protest against gold mining; “glocal” here refers to combined local and global components of the protest; protest has not stopped the mining, but the issue has become one of the most important Chilean environmental conflicts.

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                                                                                                                                                        Other Mining

                                                                                                                                                        The works cited here either examine environmental degradation associated with mining materials other than coal or metals or review other aspects of mining. Temper and Martinez-Alier 2013 discusses environmental issues associated with a bauxite mine, and James 2013 synthesizes an extensive body of work on legacy sediment that results from human activities, including mining. Martinez-Alier 2001 examines mining in the context of the economic values of material mined versus resources destroyed by mining, and in the context of environmental justice.

                                                                                                                                                        • James, L. A. 2013. Legacy sediment: Definitions and processes of episodically produced anthropogenic sediment. Anthropocene 2 (October): 16–26.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.ancene.2013.04.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Comprehensive review of diverse types of legacy sediment, which refers to anthropogenically concentrated sediment, including sediment from mining; describes processes governing deposition and preservation of legacy sediment, as well as historical land use and other information that can be derived from legacy sediments.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Martinez-Alier, J. 2001. Mining conflicts, environmental justice, and valuation. Journal of Hazardous Materials 86.1–3: 153–170.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/S0304-3894(01)00252-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Uses examples of historical and modern mining conflicts from around the world to explore responsibility, rights, liability, values, damage assessment, and environmental justice.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Temper, L., and J. Martinez-Alier. 2013. The god of the mountain and Godavarman: Net present value, indigenous territorial rights and sacredness in a bauxite mining conflict in India. Ecological Economics 96 (December): 79–87.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.09.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Examines the process of setting a net present value (NPV) for forests in India that are threatened by bauxite mining. NPV is value of cash flow from a project minus capital costs for the project; argues against establishing NPV for forests because the process of setting prices encourages economic decision making that excludes participation by local communities and does not include cultural differences.

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                                                                                                                                                              Flow Regulation

                                                                                                                                                              Flow regulation refers to the effects of dams and diversions on flow within rivers. Because mountainous areas commonly receive greater precipitation than adjacent lowlands, flow in mountain river networks can be regulated to ensure more seasonally consistent supply to lowlands or to move water from one drainage basin to another to meet a consumptive demand such as municipal water supply or irrigated agriculture. Dams are also built in mountainous regions to supply hydroelectric power. In the European Alps, in particular, tall dams are common in the headwaters of small streams. DelSontro, et al. 2010 documents the substantial methane emissions that can come from these reservoirs. The complete alteration of natural flow regime associated with hydroelectric power generation strongly affects sediment transport, channel morphology, and aquatic communities downstream, and numerous efforts to mitigate these effects and restore Alpine rivers are now underway, as described in Fette, et al. 2007; Alonso-González, et al. 2008; and Meile, et al. 2011. Loizeau and Dominik 2000 provides an example of the cumulative downstream effects of flow regulation in mountain catchments. Rader and Belish 1999 and Caskey, et al. 2015 document how diversion of flow can result in environmental degradation because of loss of peak flows along source streams. Wohl and Dust 2012 documents how enhanced peak flows can degrade receiving streams, and Gabbud and Lane 2016 discusses knowledge gaps related to mitigating the impacts on downstream ecosystems of episodic sediment flushing from water intakes.

                                                                                                                                                              • Alonso-González, C., J. Gortázar, D. Baeza Sanz, and D. García de Jalón. 2008. Dam function rules based on brown trout flow requirements: Design of environmental flow regimes in regulated streams. Hydrobiologia 609 (September): 253–262.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1007/s10750-008-9408-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Hydroelectric dams alter the timing, magnitude, duration, and rate of change in streamflow below the dam; these changes strongly affect aquatic organisms such as brown trout. Proposes specific aspects of flow regime that need to be incorporated into environmental flows to sustain brown trout populations, using a case study from a river in Spain.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Caskey, S. T., T. S. Blaschak, E. Wohl, E. Schnackenberg, D. M. Merritt, and K. A. Dwire. 2015. Downstream effects of stream flow diversion on channel characteristics and riparian vegetation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 40.5: 586–598.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1002/esp.3651Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Case study from the southern Rocky Mountains in the United States exemplifies negative environmental impacts of flow diversion; reduction in peak flows on these mountain streams results in shrinkage of channels and encroachment of upland vegetation onto floodplains.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • DelSontro, T., D. F. McGinnis, S. Sobek, I. Ostrovsky, and B. Wehrli. 2010. Extreme methane emissions from a Swiss hydropower reservoir: Contribution from bubbling sediments. Environmental Science & Technology 44.7: 2419–2425.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1021/es9031369Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Case study of methane emissions from a Swiss hydropower reservoir; measured the highest methane emissions from a midlatitude reservoir ever documented, which indicates that such reservoirs are an important but previously overlooked methane source.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Fette, M., C. Weber, A. Peter, and B. Wehrli. 2007. Hydropower production and river rehabilitation: A case study on an alpine river. Environmental Modelling & Assessment 12.4: 257–267.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/s10666-006-9061-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      Case study from the Swiss Alps of the effects of hydropower, including barriers for longitudinal migration of organisms and transport of sediment and organic matter, accelerated sedimentation and reduced groundwater connectivity, and short, irregular peak flows; discusses potential rehabilitation measures, including attenuation of hydropower peaks.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Gabbud, C., and S. N. Lane. 2016. Ecosystem impacts of Alpine water intakes for hydropower: The challenge of sediment management. WIREs Water 3.1: 41–61.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1124Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Examines the impacts of flow regulation on downstream sediment transfer and channel morphology. Temporary sediment storage at water intakes, and subsequent sediment flushing, creates pulse disturbances to downstream aquatic ecosystems. Outlines key research questions that must be addressed in order to modify intake management to mitigate downstream disturbances.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Loizeau, J.-L., and J. Dominik. 2000. Evolution of the Upper Rhone River discharge and suspended sediment load during the last 80 years and some implications for Lake Geneva. Aquatic Sciences 62.1: 54–67.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s000270050075Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Numerous hydroelectric dams on headwater tributaries of the Rhone River have reduced the occurrence of large floods and decreased sediment inputs to Lake Geneva by a factor of two; these changes have altered circulation patterns within the lake, reducing the oxygen supply to deeper portions of the lake. Nice illustration of cumulative downstream effects of flow regulation.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Meile, T., J.-L. Boillat, and A. J. Schleiss. 2011. Hydropeaking indicators for characterization of the Upper-Rhone River in Switzerland. Aquatic Sciences 73.1: 171–182.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s00027-010-0154-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Case study of how hydropower dams and associated flow alteration affect mountain streams and aquatic biota; proposes three indicators to quantify the flow regime of rivers with and without hydropower dams as a first step in linking flow regime to aquatic ecosystems and mitigating the effects of hydropower manipulation of flows.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Rader, R. B., and T. A. Belish. 1999. Influence of mild to severe flow alterations on invertebrates in three mountain streams. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 15.4: 353–363.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1646(199907/08)15:4<353::AID-RRR551>3.0.CO;2-USave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              Case study from the US Rocky Mountains of alterations in aquatic ecosystems downstream from flow diversions; downstream invertebrate communities in streams with severe flow depletion tend to be depauperate in species unless groundwater inputs restore some flow in the channel. Provides guidelines for managing the extent and timing of flow diversion to minimize risks to downstream ecosystems.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Wohl, E., and D. Dust. 2012. Geomorphic response of a headwater channel to augmented flow. Geomorphology 138 (February): 329–338.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.09.018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Case study of how flow diversion into a watershed in the southern Rocky Mountains causes substantially enhanced peak flows that enlarge the channel boundaries; cessation of flow during some portions of the year significantly affects the ability of the receiving channel to sustain fish and other aquatic organisms.

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                                                                                                                                                                                River Engineering

                                                                                                                                                                                River engineering in mountainous regions is undertaken to reduce hazards associated with floods and debris flows. Steep river gradients, abundant coarse sediment, and limited development of floodplains can create highly energetic and potentially damaging floods. Hillslope instability introduces sediment and large wood, which further exacerbate damages to infrastructure and property. The history of river engineering in mountains goes back centuries in Asia and Europe, with some of the earliest dams designed to retain sediment built c. 800 CE in Japan. River engineering in the early 21st century includes bank stabilization, grade-control structures, check dams, wood removal, and flow regulation. Bank stabilization designed to limit stream bank erosion and lateral channel movement can take the form of large boulders, stone walls, cement, or the use of living plants, as described in Evette, et al. 2009. Grade-control structures are vertical down steps in the streambed designed to dissipate flow energy and limit downcutting of the channel. Traditionally built in the form of concrete or rock walls, check dams are now increasingly designed to resemble naturally occurring irregular rock steps, as described in Lenzi 2002. Check dams are built to retain sediment until the sediment can be removed by people. Open check dams have slots that allow water and smaller sediment to pass through, while retaining boulders and large wood. Closed check dams are designed to fill with sediment and allow water to flow over the top of the dam. Wood removal involves active removal of large wood pieces introduced to the channel through bank erosion or hillslope instability. Wood is removed on a regular schedule such as annually and in response to a large flood or debris flow. Flow regulation includes dams and diversions of water from the channel to an off-channel consumptive use such as irrigated agriculture or municipal consumption, or to another channel used to convey the water downstream to a desired location. Wohl 2006 reviews the variety of forms of river engineering. In many mountain rivers, ongoing adjustments to land use changes lead to more intensive channel engineering, as illustrated in Korpak 2007, or to changes in channel form, as discussed in Boix-Fayos, et al. 2007. Extensive channel engineering has resulted in widespread ecological deterioration of mountain rivers, as described in Wyżga, et al. 2009 and Comiti 2012. This has in turn led to efforts to restore the spatial heterogeneity of river channel form and the temporal heterogeneity of more-natural water and sediment regimes, as described for an Austrian river in Muhar, et al. 2008 and for Alpine rivers as a whole in Habersack and Piégay 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Boix-Fayos, C., G. G. Barberá, F. López-Bermúdez, and V. M. Castillo. 2007. Effects of check dams, reforestation and land-use changes on river channel morphology: Case study of the Rogativa catchment (Murcia, Spain). Geomorphology 91.1–2: 103–123.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.02.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Regrowth of forest cover in the watershed since the 1950s had decreased sediment yield to the rivers, leading to narrowing and incision; this scenario is common across mountainous regions of Europe as population density and land use decreased during the 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Comiti, F. 2012. How natural are Alpine mountain rivers? Evidence from the Italian Alps. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 37.7: 693–707.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1002/esp.2267Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    Reviews the long history of human alteration of mountain streams in the Italian Alps, which is representative of many other mountainous regions. Land use, river engineering, floating of cut logs, and alteration of riverside vegetation all have influenced alpine rivers for several centuries, creating a situation in which the natural appearance of these rivers is difficult to infer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Evette, A., S. Labonne, F. Rey, F. Liebault, O. Jancke, and J. Girel. 2009. History of bioengineering techniques for erosion control in rivers in western Europe. Environmental Management 43.6: 972–984.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/s00267-009-9275-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Bioengineering uses living plants to limit erosion along channel boundaries by allowing the plant roots to increase stream bank cohesion and the aboveground portion of the plants to create flow resistance. Traces the history of bioengineering and summarizes different forms of bioengineering; very nice overview of the topic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Habersack, H., and H. Piégay. 2008. River restoration in the Alps and their surroundings: Past experience and future challenges. Paper presented at the sixth International Gravel-Bed Rivers Workshop, held 5–9 September 2005 near Lienz, Austria. In Gravel-bed rivers VI: From process understanding to river restoration. Edited by H. Habersack, H. Piégay, and M. Rinaldi, 703–737. Developments in Earth Surface Processes 11. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Nice overview of the history and various forms of river engineering in the European Alps, as well as the resulting environmental degradation and exacerbated hazards during floods. Discusses the social and legal context for river restoration, including the European Water Framework Directive, and the challenges to river restoration.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Korpak, J. 2007. The influence of river training on mountain channel changes (Polish Carpathian Mountains). Geomorphology 92.3–4: 166–181.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.07.037Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Case study of formerly braided rivers in the Polish Carpathian Mountains. Replacement of crops on adjacent hillsides by meadows or forests reduced sediment supply to the rivers, and gravel mining occurred; starting in 1959, the rivers cut downward and became narrow, sinuous channels that were then stabilized with river engineering.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lenzi, M. A. 2002. Stream bed stabilization using boulder check dams that mimic step-pool morphology features in northern Italy. Geomorphology 45.3–4: 243–260.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/S0169-555X(01)00157-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Describes how to effectively design stable check dams that mimic naturally occurring steps and pools in steep channels, using a case study from the northern Italian Alps; provides an example of the more natural approach to river engineering that is gradually replacing traditional use of concrete structures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Muhar, S., M. Jungwirth, G. Unfer, et al. 2008. Restoring riverine landscapes at the Drau River: Successes and deficits in the context of ecological integrity. Paper presented at the sixth International Gravel-Bed Rivers Workshop, held 5–9 September 2005 near Lienz, Austria. In Gravel-bed rivers VI: From process understanding to river restoration. Edited by H. Habersack, H. Piégay, and M. Rinaldi, 779–803. Developments in Earth Surface Processes 11. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Braided river segments in Austria almost disappeared during the 20th century as a result of river engineering; braided rivers provide important fish habitat and are now the target of restoration; key fish species such as grayling are responding to physical channel restoration, but recovery is limited by continuing flow regulation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Wohl, E. 2006. Human impacts to mountain streams. Geomorphology 79.3–4: 217–248.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.06.020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Review of the diverse human activities that indirectly and directly alter mountain streams, including river engineering. Compares types and levels of alterations in major mountainous regions of the world, presents four case studies, and discusses important considerations in managing mountain streams.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Wyżga, B., A. Amirowicz, A. Radecki-Pawlik, and J. Zawiejska. 2009. Hydromorphological conditions, potential fish habitats and the fish community in a mountain river subjected to variable human impacts, the Czarny Dunajec, Polish Carpathians. In Special issue: River restoration: Advances in research and applications; Selected papers from the fourth European Centre for River Restoration Conference, Venice, June 2008. Edited by M. Rinaldi, A. Gurnell, W. Bertoldi, and B. Gumiero. River Research and Applications 25.5: 517–536.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Case study from a highly modified river subjected to channelization and gravel mining. This work exemplifies studies that examine the ecological impacts of intensive river engineering; more-engineered portions of the river lacked habitat diversity and held fewer species of fish and fewer individual fish than less engineered river segments.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Resource Colonialism

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Resource colonialism here refers to the export of natural resources from mountainous regions and countries with predominantly mountainous topography to adjacent lowlands. Different terms are used to describe this phenomenon, which applies to diverse resources including timber, minerals, and water and hydroelectric power. Bandyopadhyay and Ghosh 2009, Tripathi 2011, and Nüsser 2014 discuss these issues for South Asia, where water resources of the Himalayas are managed primarily for the benefits of economically and politically powerful regions of adjacent lowlands, sometimes to the detriment of human communities in the Himalayas. Rasul 2015 argues for more of this type of engineering but also emphasizes the need to develop mechanisms to share economic benefits among mountain and lowland communities. The collection of case studies in Brower and Johnston 2007 provides an excellent introduction to the diverse pressures exerted on mountain communities by outside groups. Debarbieux and Price 2012 reviews the arguments for regarding mountains as global common goods, which remains a controversial idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bandyopadhyay, J., and N. Ghosh. 2009. Holistic engineering and hydro-diplomacy in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin. Economic and Political Weekly 44.45: 50–60.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Examines the paradoxes around water supply, engineering, and poverty in this major drainage basin, in which locally abundant precipitation does not necessarily translate to improved water supply or standard of living because of traditional water management that transfers water and hydroelectric power to politically and economically powerful regions. Calls for more integrated and holistic water management.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Brower, B., and B. R. Johnston, eds. 2007. Disappearing peoples? Indigenous groups and ethnic minorities in South and central Asia. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      This edited collection includes numerous regional case studies of how communities in the mountains of Asia are being affected by diverse external influences, including removal of mineral resources, grazing areas affected by afforestation and nature reserves, land ownership that restricts nomadism, displacement by dams and associated infrastructure of roads, and resource competition from tourists and immigrants from adjacent lowlands.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Debarbieux, B., and M. F. Price. 2012. Mountain regions: A global common good? In Supplement issue: Global change and the world’s mountains—Perth 2010. Edited by M. F. Price and R. Weingartner. Mountain Research and Development 32.S1: S7–S11.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-11-00034.S1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Reviews arguments put forward for promoting mountains as global common goods, which started with the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development; among these arguments are that mountains host a significant portion of humanity, many of whom are disadvantaged; mountains are centers of cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity; and mountain ecosystem services are important and vulnerable to climate change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Nüsser, M., ed. 2014. Large dams in Asia: Contested environments between technological hydroscapes and social resistance. Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Edited collection of geographically diverse case studies exploring the location, operation, and effects of large dams within a socioeconomic and political context; comprehensive summary of controversies surrounding large-scale water engineering in Asia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Rasul, G. 2015. Water for growth and development in the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna basins: An economic perspective. International Journal of River Basin Management 13.3: 387–400.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/15715124.2015.1012518Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Argues for the importance of continuing hydropower development in the Himalayas to provide water, food, and energy security, stressing the need to develop mechanisms to share resulting economic benefits among mountain and lowland communities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tripathi, N. K. 2011. Scarcity dilemma as security dilemma: Geopolitics of water governance in South Asia. Economic and Political Weekly 46.7: 67–72.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Discusses the continuing effects of colonial engineering models of water resource development that trace back to practices initiated under British colonial administrators, in which poorer countries such as Nepal host large hydropower dams that primarily benefit India.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Industrial Tourism

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tourism is sometimes considered to be a more environmentally benign activity than direct resource extraction such as timber harvesting or mining. Whereas tourism draws in large numbers of people who require space for their activities and rely on locally obtained resources, however, environmental changes associated with tourism are commonly not trivial. Industrial tourism here refers to communities and commercial entities such as resorts organized around the provision of services for tourists. The works cited here examine cultural drivers and environmental and socioeconomic results of increased tourism in mountains. Della Dora 2016 summarizes the history of changing attitudes toward mountainous regions, and Philpott 2013 reviews the specific history of such changes and the resulting tourism in Colorado. Martin 2007 documents the environmental and socioeconomic effects of increased tourism in the eastern United States during the 20th century, and Moss 2006 and Richins and Hull 2016 include case studies of these types of effects from diverse regions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • della Dora, V. 2016. Mountain: Nature and culture. London: Reaktion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cultural history of mountains that explores how human attitudes toward mountains have varied through time and among cultures, from fear and revulsion to religious awe, utilitarian resource extraction, and recreational pleasure grounds.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Martin, C. B. 2007. Tourism in the Mountain South: A double-edged sword. Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Focusing on hilly and mountainous regions of the southeastern United States, this book examines the history of tourism and its effects on transportation networks, communities, and government regulations since 1865; although regional in focus, discusses issues that apply to many other mountain regions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Moss, L. A. G., ed. 2006. The amenity migrants: Seeking and sustaining mountains and their cultures. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Edited collection of mostly regional case studies of how tourists or immigrants to mountain regions influence mountain ecology and human communities, including both beneficial and detrimental changes to mountainous regions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Philpott, W. 2013. Vacationland: Tourism and environment in the Colorado high country. Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Scholarly but highly readable account of the socioeconomic and cultural forces that made the mountainous portions of Colorado into an internationally known tourist destination for skiing and other forms of recreation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Richins, H., and J. S. Hull, eds. 2016. Mountain tourism: Experiences, communities, environments and sustainable futures. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Edited collection of regional case studies that discuss how commercial operators provide mountain experiences for tourists, how tourism affects mountain communities and natural environments, and practices that can mitigate negative effects of mountain tourism; comprehensive introduction to diverse aspects of tourism in mountain regions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Commercial Ski Resorts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alpine ski resorts are a particular form of industrial tourism that has received a great deal of attention in terms of the environmental and socioeconomic effects on mountain regions. Alpine skiing can be a lucrative business when the location becomes internationally famous, as in the cases of Aspen, Colorado, or St. Moritz in Switzerland. The creation and maintenance of ski runs requires substantial space and resources, however, especially where native land cover and topography are significantly altered and water is used to make artificial snow. Pickering, et al. 2003; Amo, et al. 2007; and Wipf, et al. 2005 document how these alterations can affect mountain biota. Amenities such as roads, hotels, and restaurants associated with the ski runs also require resources and destroy natural habitats in the vicinity of the ski resort. Increased atmospheric emissions associated with travel to the site and operation of ski resort equipment and amenities can degrade air quality in the immediate vicinity of the ski resort and downwind, as discussed in Clifford 2003. Wemple, et al. 2007 and David, et al. 2009 document how redistribution of water to make artificial snow can affect mountain streams, and Todd, et al. 2003 provides a case study of how these activities can result in degradation of water quality. Rivera, et al. 2006 discusses the effectiveness of voluntary programs designed to reduce environmental degradation associated with ski resorts. Stoddart 2013 examines the effects of ski resorts on mountain communities in the context of environmental justice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Amo, L., P. López, and J. Martín. 2007. Habitat deterioration affects body condition of lizards: A behavioral approach with Iberolacerta cyreni lizards inhabiting ski resorts. Biological Conservation 135.1: 77–85.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.09.020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Habitat deterioration related to development of ski slopes leads to increased risk of predation and loss of body condition as a result of fleeing at high speeds in areas without refuges; suggests artificial restoration of refuges to create safe corridors for lizard movement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Clifford, H. 2003. Downhill slide: Why the corporate ski industry is bad for skiing, ski towns, and the environment. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As indicated by the title, this book focuses on the negative environmental aspects of commercial ski resorts and makes a compelling case that this form of industrial tourism in mountains should be better regulated.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • David, G. C. L., B. P. Bledsoe, D. M. Merritt, and E. Wohl. 2009. The impacts of ski slope development on stream channel morphology in the White River National Forest, Colorado, USA. Geomorphology 103.3: 375–388.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2008.07.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tree removal, road construction, snowmaking, and machine grading of slopes substantially increase water and sediment yields to adjacent streams, which results in channel erosion in streams formed in coarse-grained sediment with shallow-rooted conifers along the channel; streams in cohesive, fine-grained sediment with dense willows growing along the bank showed little change in response to altered inputs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Pickering, C. M., J. Harrington, and G. Worboys. 2003. Environmental impacts of tourism on the Australian Alps protected areas. Mountain Research and Development 23.3: 247–254.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1659/0276-4741(2003)023[0247:EIOTOT]2.0.CO;2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Evaluates impacts of ski resorts on adjacent natural areas. Impacts include those on water quality, native vegetation, air quality, and survival of native fauna because of presence of feral animals and habitat reduction and fragmentation; impacts from adjacent ski resorts commonly exceed those from tourism in the natural areas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Rivera, J., P. de Leon, and C. Koerber. 2006. Is greener whiter yet? The Sustainable Slopes Program after five years. Policy Studies Journal 34.2: 195–221.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-0072.2006.00166.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Uses the ski industry’s Sustainable Slopes Program in the western United States to examine whether voluntary programs are effective in promoting higher environmental performance; found no evidence of superior performance by participants relative to nonparticipants with respect to most evaluated criteria, suggesting that strictly voluntary programs are of limited effectiveness.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Stoddart, M. C. J. 2013. Making meaning out of mountains: The political ecology of skiing. Vancouver: Univ. of British Columbia Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Comprehensive account of diverse aspects of commercial ski resorts, including environmental effects, cultural attitudes, socioeconomics, and environmental justice; focuses on British Columbia but explores issues common to ski resorts in many regions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Todd, A., D. McKnight, and L. Wyatt. 2003. Abandoned mines, mountain sports, and climate variability: Implications for the Colorado tourism economy. EOS, Transactions American Geophysical Union 84.38: 377–386.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1029/2003EO380002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Documents how extraction of water for artificial snowmaking from a catchment with acid-mine drainage negatively affects water quality in the catchment that receives the resulting snowmelt; deteriorating water quality affects both aquatic communities and attempts to develop year-round tourism that rely on higher water quality, such as recreational fishing and whitewater rafting.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Wemple, B., J. Shanley, J. Denner, D. Ross, and K. Mills. 2007. Hydrology and water quality in two mountain basins of the northeastern US: Assessing baseline conditions and effects of ski area development. In Special issue: Eastern Snow Conference / Western Snow Conference. Edited by J. Pomeroy, K. Elder, and A. Klein. Hydrological Processes 21.12: 1639–1650.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Compares an undeveloped watershed to a watershed undergoing alpine resort development in Vermont; 17 percent of the developed basin is occupied by ski trails and impervious surfaces, and artificial snowmaking slightly augments natural precipitation; water and sediment yields in the developed basin are higher, which are likely to lead to impacts on downstream aquatic ecosystems.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Wipf, S., C. Rixen, M. Fischer, B. Schmid, and V. Stoeckli. 2005. Effects of ski piste preparation on alpine vegetation. Journal of Applied Ecology 42.2: 306–316.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2005.01011.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ski pistes are ski runs; machine grading of these areas, as well as addition of artificially made snow, results in reduced plant species richness and productivity, and lower abundance of woody plants and early flowering species, even where machine grading had not been done recently and revegetation was attempted via sowing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Habitat Fragmentation and Disconnectivity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mountainous regions commonly include greater biodiversity than surrounding lowlands because of elevational gradients and associated gradients of climate, topography, and soils over relatively small areas. Mountain ecosystems and species can also be especially vulnerable to habitat fragmentation and disconnectivity because of limited ability to migrate to more-suitable habitats. An alpine mammal that cannot withstand warm temperatures has nowhere to go if warming climate pushes the lower elevations of suitable habitat upward. A coldwater fish restricted to higher elevations cannot migrate through lowland, warmwater river segments to reach other mountain ranges, especially if the lowland rivers are longitudinally fragmented by dams. The works cited here discuss habitat fragmentation and geographic isolation of biotic communities as a result of land use and changing climate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Land Use

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Land use can create landscape-scale disconnectivity by fragmenting naturally continuous habitats. Roads, urban areas, crop fields, grazing land, or clearcut areas all can limit or eliminate dispersal of plants and animals between habitat patches separated by the altered land area. Within river networks, dams and diversions can limit dispersal of organisms. Land use can also limit dispersal between habitat patches that are naturally geographically separated. An organism formerly capable of dispersing between separated habitat patches might no longer be able to successfully disperse because of obstacles such as roads or dams. The works cited here reflect diverse aspects of the effects of land use on habitat fragmentation and the viability of individual species and biotic communities. The degree to which land use alters native land cover matters: Maestas, et al. 2001 documents differences in biodiversity between agricultural and exurban lands in the western United States. Hofgaard 1997 discusses the challenges of differentiating the influences of land use and climate change on biotic communities in situations where both land use and climate are changing. In addition to creating physical barriers to organism dispersal, land use can alter environmental suitability in ways that limit survival of biota. Parks, et al. 2005 explains how landscape structure affects the expansion of invasive plant species and the vulnerability of plant communities to invasive species, but also how historical and modern land uses affect the expansion of invasive plants. Pauchard and Alaback 2004 illustrates how roads can provide dispersal corridors for invasive, nonnative plants. Spehn, et al. 2006 discusses the effects of fire and grazing on different components of biotic communities in mountains, and Turner, et al. 2003 describes differences among the susceptibility of forest communities to disturbance created by land use. Pascarella, et al. 2000 documents how different aspects of biotic communities recover at different rates following cessation of land use. Kaushal, et al. 2006 documents changes in stream nitrate levels associated with septic tank leachates: elevated nitrates can limit survival for aquatic organisms. Becker, et al. 2007 discusses the role of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Mountain Biosphere Reserves in protecting biotic communities and limiting habitat fragmentation in mountain regions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Becker, A., C. Körner, J.-J. Brun, A. Guisan, and U. Tappeiner. 2007. Ecological and land use studies along elevational gradients. Mountain Research and Development 27.1: 58–65.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1659/0276-4741(2007)27[58:EALUSA]2.0.CO;2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Examines how management of UNESCO Mountain Biosphere Reserves influences land use, land cover, biodiversity, and ecosystem processes; highlights the importance of these reserves in research on global climate change because of their environmental diversity as well as biodiversity and suggests a core research agenda.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Hofgaard, A. 1997. Inter-relationships between treeline position, species diversity, land use and climate change in the central Scandes Mountains of Norway. Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters 6.6: 419–429.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/2997351Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Floristic composition changed continuously rather than abruptly along an elevational gradient in the Scandes Mountains; the area has a long history of extensive grazing by domestic sheep. Hofgaard notes that future vegetation responses to diminished grazing are likely to override responses to warming climate, indicating the need for caution when interpreting the relative influences of climate change and land use on vegetation communities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Kaushal, S. S., W. M. Lewis Jr., and J. H. McCutchan Jr. 2006. Land use change and nitrogen enrichment of a Rocky Mountain watershed. Ecological Applications 16.1: 299–312.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1890/05-0134Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Examines nitrogen enrichment in a rapidly urbanizing watershed of the Colorado Rocky Mountains; nitrate coming from septic systems creates elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater, which eventually show up in streams. Discusses the limited capacity of headwater streams to assimilate increases in nitrogen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Maestas, J. D., R. L. Knight, and W. C. Gilbert. 2001. Biodiversity and land-use change in the American Mountain West. Geographical Review 91.3: 509–524.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Conversion of rural agricultural lands to low-density urban development in the western United States is resulting in loss of native plant and animal biodiversity, which is higher on protected and private rural lands than on residential lands; exurban development favors species that are nonnative or adapted to human-altered environments.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Parks, C. G., S. R. Radosevich, B. A. Endress, et al. 2005. Natural and land-use history of the Northwest mountain ecoregions (USA) in relation to patterns of plant invasions. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 7.3: 137–158.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.ppees.2005.09.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    River corridors and forests disturbed by human activities are particularly vulnerable to invasive plant species, whereas wilderness areas remain relatively unaffected; river corridors and alpine communities cover small areas but are especially ecologically important and need special protection from invasive plants.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Pascarella, J. B., T. M. Aide, M. I. Serrano, and J. K. Zimmerman. 2000. Land-use history and forest regeneration in the Cayey Mountains, Puerto Rico. Ecosystems 3.3: 217–228.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/s100210000021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Abandoned agricultural pastures and coffee plantations had basal tree area and species richness comparable to old-growth forest sites within twenty-five to thirty years of abandonment; species composition remained different, however, and nonnative species were common in abandoned agricultural areas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pauchard, A., and P. B. Alaback. 2004. Influence of elevation, land use, and landscape context on patterns of alien plant invasions along roadsides in protected areas of south-central Chile. Conservation Biology 18.1: 238–248.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00300.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alien plant species are more abundant along roadsides in national parks and in pasture or disturbed secondary forest outside parks; elevation and alien species richness along roadsides are negatively correlated, indicating that roads create pathways for alien species to enter mountain ecosystems, although the effects are less pronounced at higher elevations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Spehn, E. M., M. Liberman, and C. Körner, eds. 2006. Land use change and mountain biodiversity. Papers presented at workshops held 19–24 August 2002 in Moshi, Tanzania, and 20–23 August 2003 in La Paz, Bolivia. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Edited collection that examines how land uses related to fire and grazing influence different components of biodiversity in mountainous regions; includes regions in which population and land use have declined and regions in which they have increased.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Turner, M. G., S. M. Pearson, P. Bolstad, and D. N. Wear. 2003. Effects of land-cover change on spatial pattern of forest communities in the southern Appalachian Mountains (USA). Landscape Ecology 18.5: 449–464.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1023/A:1026033116193Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Demonstrates that forest communities are differentially susceptible to loss and fragmentation associated with land use. Two of the four forest community types were more susceptible, as well as being particularly species rich; the susceptible communities occur in areas most desirable for past agriculture and modern urbanization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Climate models suggest that continued warming will create significant and rapid changes in habitat suitability for cold-adapted terrestrial and freshwater organisms, as discussed in Engler, et al. 2011 for plants in Europe, Millar and Westfall 2010 for a North American mammal, and Dirnböck, et al. 2011 for multiple species. These changes will not be restricted to the highest elevations but will affect biotic communities throughout mountains, as discussed in Ruiz-Labourdette, et al. 2012. Significant changes in the geographic distribution of plants and animals within mountainous regions are already being documented, as described for European mountain plants in Gottfried, et al. 2012 and for fish in western North America in Isaak, et al. 2010. Ashcroft 2010 discusses characteristics of environments that can survive as refugia from warming climate, while Jones, et al. 2014 also discusses warming effects on coldwater fish species in mountains. Mountain streams provide important habitats for many aquatic animals, but these animals are particularly vulnerable to warming climate because of their adaptations to cold water and constraints on their movements imposed by linear stream networks that are easily fragmented by warmwater segments or dams. Warming climate will also change environmental disturbance regimes that influence biotic communities, as described in McKenzie and Littell 2017 for wildfires in the western United States.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ashcroft, M. B. 2010. Identifying refugia from climate change. Journal of Biogeography 37.8: 1407–1413.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Discusses the importance of distinguishing different types of refugia and the context for refugia, as well as the need to develop appropriately scaled climate grids for different scales of refugia; context includes the dispersal ability of the species under consideration.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Dirnböck, T., F. Essl, and W. Rabitsch. 2011. Disproportional risk for habitat loss of high-altitude endemic species under climate change. Global Change Biology 17.2: 990–996.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02266.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hot spots of high-altitude endemism in the Austrian Alps occur in relatively low-elevation peripheral areas where Pleistocene glaciation did not occur; treeline expansion upward under warming climate disproportionally reduces habitats of high-altitude species in these areas, including vascular plants, snails, spiders, butterflies, and beetles.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Engler, R., C. F. Randin, W. Thuiller, et al. 2011. 21st century climate change threatens mountain flora unequally across Europe. Global Change Biology 17.7: 2330–2341.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02393.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Summarizes impact of warming climate on 2,632 plant species across all major European mountain ranges; projected habitat loss is greater for species at higher elevations, but mountains with increased warming and decreased precipitation will be more affected than those with increased warming and precipitation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gottfried, M., H. Pauli, A. Futschik, et al. 2012. Continent-wide response of mountain vegetation to climate change. Nature Climate Change 2.2: 111–115.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1329Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Uses vegetation samples above treeline from all major European mountain systems to demonstrate ongoing changes in mountain plant communities in response to warming climate; cold-adapted species are declining and warm-adapted species are increasing, with significant changes at the continental scale over time periods as short as seven years.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Isaak, D. J., C. H. Luce, B. E. Rieman, et al. 2010. Effects of climate change and wildfire on stream temperatures and salmonid thermal habitat in a mountain river network. Ecological Applications 20.5: 1350–1371.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1890/09-0822.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Discusses how conservation of biodiversity in mountain streams subject to increasing water temperatures requires downscaling of climatic trends to local habitats. Uses a case study from the western United States to assess trends in water temperatures and habitat for two native fish species; one species is minimally affected—the other, severely.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Jones, L. A., C. C. Muhlfeld, L. A. Marshall, B. L. McGlynn, and J. L. Kershner. 2014. Estimating thermal regimes of bull trout and assessing the potential effects of climate warming on critical habitats. River Research and Applications 30.2: 204–216.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1002/rra.2638Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Example of effects of increasing water temperature in freshwater ecosystems. Threatened bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) is a thermally sensitive coldwater species; models of water temperature under warming climate suggest that lower portions of river basins occupied by bull trout will become thermally unsuitable, and headwaters may become isolated because of increasing thermal fragmentation during summer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • McKenzie, D., and J. S. Littell. 2017. Climate change and the eco-hydrology of fire: Will area burned increase in a warming western USA? Ecological Applications 27.1: 26–36.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1002/eap.1420Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Examines the correlation between drought and wildfire in the western United States across a spectrum from temperate rainforest to desert. Strong correlations between hotter, drier climate and more fire exist in the middle of the spectrum, but correlations are weaker at either end of the spectrum; indicates that drought-fire relations will not be stationary or easily predictable in the future.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Millar, C. I., and R. D. Westfall. 2010. Distribution and climatic relationships of the American pika (Ochotona princeps) in the Sierra Nevada and western Great Basin, U.S.A.: Periglacial landforms as refugia in warming climates. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 42.1: 76–88.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1657/1938-4246-42.1.76Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Documents the habitats occupied by pikas and their limited tolerance with respect to temperature range. Rock-ice features such as talus slopes and rock glaciers are important refugia for pikas as climate warms; these features include a range of rock sizes and open matrices that facilitate movement by pikas and create insulating air pockets.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ruiz-Labourdette, D., D. Nogués-Bravo, H. Sáinz Ollero, M. F. Schmitz, and F. D. Pineda. 2012. Forest composition in Mediterranean mountains is projected to shift along the entire elevational gradient under climate change. Journal of Biogeography 39.1: 162–176.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02592.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Emphasizes that changes in species ranges and plant community composition will occur across the entire elevational gradient within Mediterranean mountains, rather than primarily at high elevations. The greatest losses will occur at low and middle elevations; this will cause loss of refugia for cold-adapted species.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Natural Hazards

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Natural hazards in mountainous regions affect biotic and human communities. The triggering mechanisms of some types of natural hazards are largely beyond human influence, such as volcanic eruptions and large-scale faulting and associated earthquakes and hillslope failures. Human activities can strongly influence the location, magnitude, and frequency of other natural hazards, however, such as when roads or deforestation exacerbate landsliding. Warming climate is also exacerbating some types of hazards particularly associated with mountainous regions, such as retreat of alpine glaciers or degradation of permafrost. Regardless of the cause of a particular natural hazard, it is important to assess the vulnerability of biotic and human communities to the hazard and to mitigate this vulnerability where possible. The works cited here address each of these topics. Slaymaker 2010 provides a useful and comprehensive introduction to natural hazards in mountainous regions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Slaymaker, O. 2010. Mountain hazards. In Geomorphological hazards and disaster prevention. Edited by I. Alcántara-Ayala and A. S. Goudie, 33–47. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511807527.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Comprehensive overview of different types and spatial scales of hazards, drivers of change and vulnerability, and human influences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hazardous Processes Unaffected by Human Activities

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Natural hazards commonly associated with mountainous regions that are not necessarily affected by human activities include volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides and debris flows, flood, avalanches, and intense winds. The works cited here discuss some aspect of one or more of these hazards. Blong 1984 thoroughly reviews causes, mechanics, and hazards of volcanic eruptions. Huang and Li 2009 discusses hazards caused by a 2008 earthquake in China, including slope failures, and Refice and Capolongo 2002 explains probability modeling of earthquake-induced slope failures. Floods in mountainous regions can result from precipitation or from failure of landslide dams, dams created by glacial moraines, or jökulhlaups that originate from beneath a glacier when the pressure of accumulating meltwater lifts the glacial ice off the ground. Bajracharya, et al. 2007 examines floods from failure of glacial moraine dams in the Himalayas. Mazzorana, et al. 2012 discusses a methodology for assessing the effects of multiple processes such as precipitation-induced flooding and slope failures, and McClung and Schaerer 2006 provides a comprehensive overview of snow avalanches. Baker, et al. 2002; Mikułowski and Gil 2003; and Nagel, et al. 2017 all document hazards associated with intense winds that blow down stands of trees.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Bajracharya, B., A. B. Shrestha, and L. Rajbhandari. 2007. Glacial lake outburst floods in the Sagarmatha region: Hazard assessment using GIS and hydrodynamic modeling. Mountain Research and Development 27.4: 336–344.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1659/mrd.0783Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Uses dam break and hydrodynamic models to assess the risks of glacier lake outburst floods, with a 1985 flood case study to validate model outputs and an assessment of hazards from future outbursts at the largest glacial lake in the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Baker, W. L., P. H. Flaherty, J. D. Lindemann, T. T. Veblen, K. S. Eisenhart, and D. W. Kulakowski. 2002. Effect of vegetation on the impact of a severe blowdown in the southern Rocky Mountains, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 168.1–3: 63–75.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/S0378-1127(01)00730-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Case study of a severe blowdown in the southern Rocky Mountains in 1997 associated with storm winds reaching 124 to 155 miles per hour; evaluates the effect of pre-blowdown conditions on tree damage, including stand density, species composition, and age of trees.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Blong, R. J. 1984. Volcanic hazards: A sourcebook on the effects of eruptions. Sydney, Australia: Academic Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Discusses the geologic conditions that lead to volcanic eruptions and the hazards associated with eruptions, which include lava flows, ballistic projectiles, pyroclastic flows, lahars, jökulhlaups, earthquakes, tsunamis, ash falls, and poisonous gases; also reviews effects of eruptions on humans, perceptions of risk, and infrastructure engineering to minimize hazards.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Huang, R. Q., and W. L. Li. 2009. Analysis of the geo-hazards triggered by the 12 May 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, China. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment 68.3: 363–371.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10064-009-0207-0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The earthquake examined here triggered numerous landslides and debris flows. The authors analyze the distribution and controlling factors for these slope failures; many of the failures were associated with faulting or with a deeply incised river gorge farther from the main fault-rupture zone.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mazzorana, B., F. Comiti, C. Scherer, and S. Fuchs. 2012. Developing consistent scenarios to assess flood hazards in mountain streams. Journal of Environmental Management 94 (February): 112–124.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2011.06.030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Discusses the challenges of flood risk management in mountainous regions, where multiple, simultaneous processes such as slope failure and river flooding commonly occur; presents an expert-based methodology that incorporates probability of different types of hazardous processes spatially distributed through a watershed, and uses case studies to illustrate the methodology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • McClung, D., and P. A. Schaerer. 2006. The avalanche handbook. 3d ed. Seattle, WA: Mountaineers Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Comprehensive introduction to mountain weather, snow and snowpack characteristics, mechanics of avalanches, avalanche forecasting and hazards, and avalanche protection.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Mikułowski, M., and W. Gil. 2003. Wind-induced damage to Polish forests and the methods of mitigating its effect. In Wind effects on trees: Proceedings of the international conference, University of Karlsruhe, Germany, September 16–18, 2003. Edited by B. Ruck, C. Kottmeier, C. Mattheck, C. P. Quine, and G. Wilhelm, 349–356. Karlsruhe, Germany: Laboratory of Building and Environmental Aerodynamics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reviews Polish forests and forestry, proposes a classification for wind-induced damage on the basis of numerous wind events through time in Polish forests, presents two case studies of wind-induced damage, and discusses mitigation measures to limit damage and restore forests.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nagel, T. A., S. Mikac, M. Dolinar, et al. 2017. The natural disturbance regime in forests of the Dinaric Mountains: A synthesis of evidence. Forest Ecology and Management 388 (15 March): 29–42.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2016.07.047Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Comprehensively describes the natural disturbance regime of dominant forest communities in the Dinaric Mountains in southeastern Europe, using meteorological, historical, and dendrochronological records; among the discussed disturbances are thunderstorm winds, ice storms, and heavy snowfalls that damage trees.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Refice, A., and D. Capolongo. 2002. Probabilistic modeling of uncertainties in earthquake-induced landslide hazard assessments. Computers & Geosciences 28.6: 735–749.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/S0098-3004(01)00104-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Probabilistic analysis can incorporate estimation uncertainties and spatial variability of parameters. Describes how to derive probabilistic hazard maps for earthquake-triggered landslides; tests the procedure for a site in southern Italy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hazardous Processes Directly Affected by Human Activities

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As noted in other sections, the processes that trigger natural hazards can be exacerbated by human activities that change native land cover or alter slope stability by creating roads. Meusburger and Alewell 2008 documents the effect of cattle grazing on landslides in Switzerland. The effects of changing land cover on slope stability have been operating for thousands of years, as Remondo, et al. 2005 documents for mountains in Spain. Larsen and Parks 1997 is a classic work on the effects of roads on landslides, and Barnard, et al. 2001 examines the effect of roads during an earthquake-induced episode of widespread landsliding in the Himalayas. The reservoirs associated with dams also create distinctive hazards. Rising water level in a new reservoir can reactivate old landslides, as discussed in Cojean and Caï 2011. Rising or fluctuating reservoir levels can also trigger new landslides, as summarized briefly in Stone 2008 and in more detail in Wang, et al. 2008. A landslide that abruptly introduces a large volume of sediment into a reservoir can trigger a flood wave that overtops the dam. The most famous example of this phenomenon occurred in the 1963 Vajont disaster in Italy, which killed more than two thousand people, as discussed in Kilburn and Petley 2003. Borgatti and Soldati 2005 provides a broad overview of diverse human-influenced hazards in mountainous regions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Barnard, P. L., L. A. Owen, M. C. Sharma, and R. C. Finkel. 2001. Natural and human-induced landsliding in the Garhwal Himalaya of northern India. Geomorphology 40.1–2: 21–35.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/S0169-555X(01)00035-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Uses cosmogenic isotope dating of old landslide deposits to develop long-term records of landslide activity, which are responsible for up to half the landscape lowering through erosion; two-thirds of the numerous shallow landslides following a large earthquake in 1999 were initiated or accelerated by removal of the toe of a slope at a road cut.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Borgatti, L., and M. Soldati, eds. 2005. Special issue: Geomorphological hazard and human impact in mountain environments. Geomorphology 66.1–4.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Edited special issue of the journal; includes papers on landslides, floods, permafrost degradation, environmental-impact assessments, avalanches, and hazard mapping and mitigation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cojean, R., and Y. J. Caï. 2011. Analysis and modeling of slope stability in the Three-Gorges Dam reservoir (China)—the case of Huangtupo landslide. Journal of Mountain Science 8.2: 166–175.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s11629-011-2100-0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Water level in the Three Gorges Dam will fluctuate over a range of 98 feet vertically as a function of climate and dam operations. A community of 20,000 that was moved to a new site because of reservoir inundation was rebuilt on an old landslide deposit, the base of which can be submerged at high reservoir levels; this creates slope stability problems that are being addressed through engineering.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Kilburn, C. R. J., and D. N. Petley. 2003. Forecasting giant, catastrophic slope collapse: Lessons from Vajont, northern Italy. Geomorphology 54.1–2: 21–32.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/S0169-555X(03)00052-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Rapid, giant landslides are commonly attributed to unusual mechanisms but can result from self-accelerating rock fracture that abruptly reduces resisting force; the authors use the 1963 Vajont landslide as a case study and discuss the sequence of events with respect to the landslide, dam overtopping, and catastrophic flooding that killed more than two thousand people.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Larsen, M. C., and J. E. Parks. 1997. How wide is a road? The association of roads and mass-wasting in a forested montane environment. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 22.9: 835–848.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9837(199709)22:9<835::AID-ESP782>3.0.CO;2-CSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Spatial data on more than 1,600 landslides in Puerto Rico indicate substantial differences in landslide frequency in relation to proximity to roads; the rate of landsliding increases from five to eight times in a 558-foot-wide swath along road corridors.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Meusburger, K., and C. Alewell. 2008. Impacts of anthropogenic and environmental factors on the occurrence of shallow landslides in an alpine catchment (Urseren Valley, Switzerland). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 8.3: 509–520.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.5194/nhess-8-509-2008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Catchment characteristics such as geology and topography explain spatial variations in slope stability, but land use and specifically cattle-stocking levels explain temporal trends in landslides; increased grazing leads to increased landslides.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Remondo, J., J. Soto, A. González-Díez, J. R. Díaz de Terán, and A. Cendrero. 2005. Human impact on geomorphic processes and hazards in mountain areas in northern Spain. In Special issue: Geomorphological hazard and human impact in mountain environments. Edited by L. Borgatti and M. Soldati. Geomorphology 66.1–4: 69–84.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Landslide deposits, along with hazard and susceptibility models, indicate periods of increased landslide frequency in association both with increased precipitation and intensified land use during the Neolithic and the Industrial Revolution, but land use is particularly important.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Stone, R. 2008. Three Gorges Dam: Into the unknown. Science 321.5889: 628–632.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1126/science.321.5889.628Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Briefly summarizes the numerous environmental problems associated with construction and operation of Three Gorges Dam in China, including the potential to trigger landslides as water from the reservoir saturates the base of valley side slopes and the weight of water in the massive reservoir affects strain on bedrock faults.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Wang, F., Y. Zhang, Z. Huo, X. Peng, S. Wang, and S. Yamasaki. 2008. Mechanism for the rapid motion of the Qianjiangping landslide during reactivation by the first impoundment of the Three Gorges Dam reservoir, China. Landslides 5.4: 379–386.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/s10346-008-0130-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Initial filling of the reservoir behind Three Gorges Dam to the lower level of its operating range caused widespread slope deformation and triggered several landslides; discusses the mechanisms of slope failure on the largest of these landslides.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hazardous Processes Affected by Warming Climate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Warming climate accelerates degradation of permanently frozen ground, or permafrost, and melting and retreat of alpine glaciers. Degradation of permafrost causes subsidence, as documented in Nelson, et al. 2001, and destabilizes hillslopes, leading to increased landslides and debris flows, as reviewed in Harris, et al. 2001. Glacial retreat allows Earth’s crust to rebound in response to the removal of the weight of glacial ice, and this rebound can trigger earthquakes and landslides, as discussed in Sanchez, et al. 2010. Holm, et al. 2004 reviews how glacial retreat leaves oversteepened valley side walls that are prone to landslides and debris flows. Crozier 2010 discusses the variety of ways in which warming climate can affect landslides. Meltwater draining from the glacier can temporarily pond up-valley from glacier moraines and then drain in a catastrophic outburst flood when the moraine dam fails. Bolch, et al. 2012 reviews the modern state of glaciers in the Himalayas, including hazards associated with outburst floods, while Benn, et al. 2012 discusses the risks of outburst floods associated with warming climate. Clague and Evans 2000 reviews the history of glacial outburst floods in British Columbia and provides a detailed discussion of the triggers and mechanics of these floods. Xin, et al. 2008 simulates future outburst floods in the Himalayas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Benn, D. J., T. Bolch, K. Hands, et al. 2012. Response of debris-covered glaciers in the Mount Everest region to recent warming, and implications for outburst flood hazards. Earth-Science Reviews 114.1–2: 156–174.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.03.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Glaciers in mountainous areas can have extensive covers of sediment in the zone of melting ice, which can facilitate formation of large, moraine-dammed lakes and associated risk of outburst floods; discusses how sediment-covered glaciers respond to warming climate, and the long-term implications for outburst flood risks.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Bolch, T., A. Kulkarni, A. Kääb, et al. 2012. The state and fate of Himalayan glaciers. Science 336.6079: 310–314.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1126/science.1215828Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Rapid retreat of Himalayan mountain glaciers creates hazards associated with glacier lake outburst floods; reviews state of knowledge about locations, current state, and key characteristics of glaciers in the Himalayas, as well as projections of possible future changes and hazards associated with changes in water supply to downstream regions and with outburst floods.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Clague, J. J., and S. G. Evans. 2000. A review of catastrophic drainage of moraine-dammed lakes in British Columbia. Quaternary Science Reviews 19.17–18: 1763–1783.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/S0277-3791(00)00090-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Moraine-dammed lakes formed by glacial retreat are susceptible to dam failure and are located on steep slopes prone to avalanches and rockfalls. Dams can fail by overtopping or incision triggered by a heavy rainstorm, avalanche, rockfall, sudden influx of water from failure of a dam upstream, piping, or melting of an ice core within the moraine.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Crozier, M. J. 2010. Deciphering the effect of climate change on landslide activity: A review. Geomorphology 124.3–4: 260–267.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.04.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Discusses mechanisms by which climate can induce landsliding and how these mechanisms may respond to changing climate, evaluates multiple models on the basis of their potential to predict landslide response to climate projections, and examines the theoretical basis for increased landslide activity as a result of predicted climate change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Harris, C., M. C. R. Davies, and B. Etzelmüller. 2001. The assessment of potential geotechnical hazards associated with mountain permafrost in a warming global climate. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 12.1: 145–156.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1002/ppp.376Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              European mountain permafrost is just slightly below freezing and is therefore particularly vulnerable to climate change; permafrost degradation can cause ground subsidence and reduce slope stability. The authors summarize investigative stages needed for engineering projects that may be affected by permafrost.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Holm, K., M. Bovis, and M. Jakob. 2004. The landslide response of alpine basins to post–Little Ice Age glacial thinning and retreat in southwestern British Columbia. Geomorphology 57.3–4: 201–216.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/S0169-555X(03)00103-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Glacial erosion can create oversteepened valley walls that are prone to failure when glaciers retreat; rockfalls, rockslides, and rock avalanches are prevalent in recently deglaciated valleys with weaker, easily eroded rock, whereas valleys with stronger granitic bedrock are less likely to show decreased slope stability following glacier retreat.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Nelson, F. E., O. A. Anisimov, and N. I. Shiklomanov. 2001. Subsidence risk from thawing permafrost. Nature 410.6831: 889–890.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1038/35073746Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Uses climate model scenarios, mathematical relations for the thickness of the seasonally thawed ground layer, digital representation of soil properties, and permafrost distribution and ice content to create hazard maps for the Northern Hemisphere.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sanchez, G., Y. Rolland, M. Corsini, et al. 2010. Relationships between tectonics, slope instability and climate change: Cosmic ray exposure dating of active faults, landslides and glacial surfaces in the SW Alps. Geomorphology 117.1–2: 1–13.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2009.10.019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Detailed chronologies of glacial retreat and landsliding suggest that postglacial rebound of Earth’s crust influences fault movement, earthquakes, and landslides; climatic fluctuations also influence landsliding, with increased slope failure during wetter periods.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Xin, W., L. Shiyin, G. Wanqin, and X. Junli. 2008. Assessment and simulation of glacier lake outburst floods for Longbasaba and Pida Lakes, China. Mountain Research and Development 28.3–4: 310–317.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1659/mrd.0894Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Examines moraine-dammed lakes in the Himalayas and evaluates risk of dam breaching and resulting flood hydrograph on the basis of multiple surveys through time and use of models for failure of earthen dams.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Vulnerability and Hazard Mitigation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Despite the long history of technical mitigation on a catchment scale in mountainous regions of Asia and Europe, monetary and infrastructural losses resulting from hazardous mountain processes remain high. Consequently, technical hazard mitigation is being supplemented by land use planning, as reviewed for Austria in Holub and Fuchs 2009, and warning systems. Technical hazard mitigation traditionally focused on structures such as hillslope stabilization and river engineering, but Holub, et al. 2012 discusses how the design of individual buildings can be modified to reduce vulnerability to hazards. Kääb 2000 reviews the use of photogrammetry to detect potential hazards, and Lin, et al. 2010 discusses the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for early detection of potential hazards. Gardner and Dekens 2007 examines factors that promote resilience to natural hazards in social-ecological systems. Fuchs 2009 reviews disciplinary differences in defining and assessing vulnerability to natural hazards and the factors that influence different types of vulnerability.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Fuchs, S. 2009. Susceptibility versus resilience to mountain hazards in Austria—paradigms of vulnerability revisited. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 9.2: 337–352.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.5194/nhess-9-337-2009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses disciplinary differences in defining and assessing vulnerability, as well as issues determining structural, economic, institutional, and social vulnerability. Uses Austria as a case study and recommends a comprehensive approach to analyzing vulnerability and resilience.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Gardner, J. S., and J. Dekens. 2007. Mountain hazards and the resilience of social-ecological systems: Lessons learned in India and Canada. Natural Hazards 41.2: 317–336.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s11069-006-9038-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Discusses the factors that promote resilience to natural hazards in social-ecological systems, including the ability to learn and adjust, use all forms of knowledge, self-organize, and develop positive institutional linkages with other social-ecological systems; avoidance can also be effective for localized hazards.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Holub, M., and S. Fuchs. 2009. Mitigating mountain hazards in Austria—legislation, risk transfer, and awareness building. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 9.2: 523–537.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.5194/nhess-9-523-2009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Uses Austria as a case study and discusses mitigation via land use regulations, risk transfer by creating incentives for risk-aware behavior and insurance, and increasing awareness through information.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Holub, M., J. Suda, and S. Fuchs. 2012. Mountain hazards: Reducing vulnerability by adapted building design. Environmental Earth Sciences 66.7: 1853–1870.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/s12665-011-1410-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Discusses use of local structural protection directly implemented at or adjacent to sites at risk, and presents a prototype of residential building adapted to mountain hazards. Prototype is equipped with constructional features to resist hazards such as snow avalanches and river flooding; argues for this approach to reduce the consequences of frequent, low-magnitude events in mountains.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Kääb, A. 2000. Photogrammetry for early recognition of high mountain hazards: New techniques and applications. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Part B: Hydrology, Oceans and Atmosphere 25.9: 765–770.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/S1464-1909(00)00099-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Computer-aided photogrammetry can provide tools such as measurements of surface velocity fields in three dimensions and greatly facilitates mapping and monitoring of hazards, increasing rising lake level in glacial lakes, ice flow, permafrost creep, debris flows, and rockslides induced by glacial retreat; presents examples from the Swiss Alps.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lin, J., H. Tao, Y. Wang, and Z. Huang. 2010. Practical application of unmanned aerial vehicles for mountain hazards survey. In 18th International Conference on Geoinformatics, 2010: 18–20 June 2010, Beijing, China. Edited by Y. Liu and A. Chen, 1–5. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Case study using unmanned aerial vehicles to rapidly survey the location and characteristics of mountain hazards, such as landslide-dammed lakes; discusses modification and customization of aerial vehicles to collect different types of remote imagery.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Online Sources

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The websites of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Mountains program and the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) provide additional information on environmental science aspects of mountains, as well as links to other resources.

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