Researchers are coming together with a focus to improve sustainability and manage mountain water sources.
Scientists say climate change is endangering critical mountain water sources like the Canadian Rockies snowpacks and glaciers, with potential for dire implications.
Mountain water sources play a key role in everything from our drinking water, health and well-being to agriculture, food production, power and energy to industry and ecosystems.
To address the challenges UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has announced the creation of the UNESCO Chair in Mountain Water Sustainability.
The Chair will bridge geographic regions, disciplines, research methods, and voices to better understand changing water resources in high mountain regions and develop solutions towards sustainable water management
The Chair will be hosted at the University of Calgary and includes Professor Frederick Wrona and Dr Kerry Black, University of Saskatchewan scientists Dr. John Pomeroy and Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace (PhD) as well as
two international scientists from Chile and Nepal.
The Chair will address three major questions:
1 - How will mountain headwater rivers that are currently dominated by snow and glaciers provide secure freshwater for humanity and ecosystems under climate change?
2 - How and to what degree are mountain ecosystems and communities impacted by changing climate and hydrological regimes?
3 - How can mountain river basins be collaboratively managed to build equitable, sustainable, inclusive and resilient communities, economies and ecosystems while respecting and advancing Indigenous rights?
Professor Wrona says the UNESCO Mountain Chair network will bring new and timely solutions involving multiple knowledge systems to help build the necessary resilience and adaptation strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of mountain-based communities, economies and ecosystems.
Dr Pomeroy says these environments are changing even before we fully understand their coupled interactions and before we have reliable predictions of the impacts of climate change on downstream populations and how these might be managed.
The group will work on sustaining and managing these mountain waters by improving how we forecast the impact of climate warming on water sources, develop new climate change mitigation measures, and increase the resilience of communities reliant on mountain waters.
Chairholders will proactively work with local mountain-based communities and relevant stakeholders and decision-makers.
More information is available here.