Adaptation to climate change in glaciated mountain regions

Abstract

Understanding of the human dimensions of climate change (HDCC) in glaciated mountain regions is limited by a deficit in systematically collated information on where, to what stressors, by whom, at what scale, and with what effect adaptation is occurring. This paper presents a systematic literature review of the recent English language peer-reviewed scholarship on adaptation in glaciated mountain regions. 4050 potentially relevant articles were examined, with 36 included for full review. Results indicate that scholarly investigation into adaptation in glaciated mountains is presently limited to only 40 % of countries with alpine glaciation. Seventy-four discrete adaptation initiatives were identified, with most occurring in Peru (28 %), Nepal (22 %) and India (17 %). Many documented adaptations were initiated in response to intersecting stressors related to cryospheric change and socio-economic development; were autonomous and initiated in reaction to experienced climatic stimuli; and were carried out at the individual, family, or community scale. The study contributes to an emerging literature tracking on-the-ground adaptation processes and outcomes, and identifies a need to raise the profile of human adaptation in glaciated mountain regions within the HDCC scholarship. A research agenda for addressing key knowledge gaps and questions is developed, providing a framework for future investigation.

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Acknowledgments

Gratitude is expressed to two anonymous reviewers who provided insightful and constructive feedback on the article. The authors are also appreciative of Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford’s advice on study design and Adam Bonnycastle’s assistance with map production. This study was supported by funding from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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Correspondence to Graham McDowell.

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McDowell, G., Stephenson, E. & Ford, J. Adaptation to climate change in glaciated mountain regions. Climatic Change 126, 77–91 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1215-z

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Keywords

  • Adaptive Capacity
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Adaptation Plan
  • Human Adaptation
  • Glaciate Mountain