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Information on workshop format is available here (Section "Format"). 

General Topic I – Drivers and Processes

Specific Topic 1.1: Climatic changes in Mountain regions

Workshop 1.1.A: Climate information for impact modeling

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Mathias Rotach (Chair), Brigitta Goger    

When assessing the impact of climate change on natural or anthropogenic systems (ranging from agriculture over energy production (solar, hydro) or demand to urban or regional planning), typically a physical (biological, chemical) impact model (IM) with atmospheric data as input is employed. The latter typically stem from observations when devising the IM, and are extracted from atmospheric models (weather, climate) in the application.

The spatial resolution of regional climate models (order 10 km in the horizontal) is still – and for the foreseeable future - too coarse to represent the scales of interest in mountainous terrain. Over a horizontal distance of 10 km, a mountain peak as well as a valley floor location may be found – thus making it difficult to extract relevant information form a ‘grid box’ of a climate model. This may concern both, an IM to assess snow availability at the mountain-top site for purposes of planning ski tourism or an IM to assess run-off for the planning of hydro power in the valley. A number of different down-scaling approaches have been proposed in the past (statistical, dynamical, mixtures thereof), which all suffer from the problem that either the information can be obtained at one particular point (where an observation is available), but not anywhere else in the vicinity – or the information is available from high-resolution dynamical downscaling, thus having, in principle, a different topography and likely not a long enough time period covered. IMs, therefore, always suffer from the problem that they must be run (i.e., trained/validated for the present climate, applied for climate scenarios) with meteorological input parameters, which are highly uncertain at best, but possibly not representative for the conditions at the location they are used.

The goals of this workshop are to (i) bring together the expectations/needs of the IM modelers with the ‘offers’ of the regional climate modelers (ii) to identify areas of largest uncertainties and greatest needs and hence the areas of most relevant research needs, and possible solution pathways to the dilemma outlined above. The target audience of this workshop are IM modelers of all kinds on the one hand and scientists with experience in (regional) climate modeling. 

Workshop 1.1.B: Climate modeling in Mountain regions

    WS Output     WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Fabien Maussion (chair), Nikolina Ban   

Although highly relevant for society and planning, climate projections in mountainous regions are still highly uncertain. The overarching goal of this workshop will be to identify and discuss the main factors behind these uncertainties and propose innovative ways forward in order to reduce them. We welcome contributions from global and regional atmospheric modellers from all backgrounds, including but not limited to: (i) development and testing of model parameterisations in complex terrain, (ii) numerical and computational challenges of (very-) high-resolution modelling, (iii) model validation in data-scarce regions, (iv) model intercomparison experiments (e.g. CORDEX, CMIP…), (v) application and development of models of intermediate complexity in mountain regions.

By focusing on the development and application of climate and atmospheric models, this workshop is complementary to the companion workshops 1.1.A (“Climate information for impact modeling”) and 1.1.C (“Past climate change – proxies and modeling”).

Workshop 1.1.C: Past climate change – proxies and modeling

    WS Output     WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Kurt Nicolussi (Chair), Fabien Maussion, Ulf Büntgen    

Mountain regions are exceptional areas for research on the past climate. A variety of climate proxys from different climate archives, e.g. mountain glaciers and treelines, are available and allow multi-proxy comparisons on a regional scale. Another emerging approach for studying past climate variability is climate modelling at millennial and longer timescales. However, model output for the past is usually temporally limited to the recent past or of low resolution if longer timescales are investigated. Both approaches are necessary to define the current state of climate in relation to past conditions. In this workshop we will focus on the actual state of i) (multi-)proxy results from mountain regions as well as for ii) model output for such areas. We want to address iii) how proxy analyses and model development can interact, e.g. filling temporal gaps and seasonal underrepresentation in proxy records.


Question 1: How well can (multi-)proxy reconstructions from mountain areas define the current climatic change in relation to the past ?

Question 2: What is the actual state of proxy-model comparisons and interactions regarding mountain areas?

Question 3: How well can the coarse resolution climate models simulate regional amplification effects in mountain areas (e.g. the Little Ice Age)?

Workshop 1.1.D: Climate change in Mountain regions: Bringing together methodologies and knowledge systems

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Martina Neuburger (Chair), Julia Klein, Jeffrey McKenzie, Wolfgang Gurgiser    

Climate change in mountain regions is widely discussed in science and society. Natural scientists are analyzing drivers and dynamics of meteorological phenomena as well as impacts on mountain hydro- and ecosystems. Social scientists explore the impacts of climate change on economic sectors like agriculture, industry and energy as well as societal reactions and strategies to deal with upcoming challenges in form of mitigation and adaptation. Due to the complexity and interdependencies of these dynamics in mountain regions, several scientific approaches intend to integrate natural and societal processes while most of these studies do not consider (traditional) local knowledge in its specific socio-cultural context or do not recognize climate change research as part of the discourse that shape political decision making processes. Thus, “misunderstandings” between natural and social scientist, local worldviews and political arguments or mismatches between human perceptions and scientific observations might stem from different methodologies and knowledge systems.

The aim of our workshop is

  • to discuss ways for linking qualitative with quantitative information, different spatiotemporal scales and different knowledge systems (e.g. understandings of representativeness, handling of uncertainty and significance etc.),
  • to better understand differences in human perceptions, societal/political responses and scientific observations/perspectives.

Theoretical approaches, methodological concepts and case studies are welcome.


Question 1: Which sources of information and data should be integrated in climate change (impact) analyses and how can information be merged?

Question 2: What are typical reasons for mismatches in scientific observations/perspectives, human perceptions and societal/political responses?

Specific Topic 1.2: Land-atmosphere interactions in Mountain regions

Workshop 1.2.A: Challenges in Quantifying and Simulating the Land-Atmosphere Exchange in Mountain regions

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Georg Wohlfahrt (Chair), Mathias Rotach, Marta Galvagno    

Mountain areas represent a number of challenges for quantifying and simulating their land-atmosphere exchange of mass, energy and momentum. First, mountain areas are characterized by rapid changes in ecosystem structure and function driven by changes in climate and land use along with elevation. Second, the topographic features of mountain areas induce modifications to atmospheric flows and exchange processes which preclude theoretical frameworks developed for horizontally flat homogeneous terrain to be applied with confidence. Third, the local near-surface atmospheric flows strongly interact with the meso-scale ‘mountain boundary layer’ thus further challenging the usually applied up- and downscaling approaches. The resulting uncertainties limit our ability to project land-atmosphere interactions in mountain areas under changing future climate and land use.

The goals of this workshop are to (i) discuss the state of the art with regard to land-atmosphere interactions in mountain areas and the associated uncertainties and (ii) to identify priorities for future research aiming at reducing the most prominent of the uncertainties. The target audience of this workshop are scientists in the fields of atmospheric sciences, environmental sciences, hydrology and related fields interested in the land-atmosphere exchange of mountain areas. We welcome both experimental and modelling studies, and in particular a combination of both.

Specific Topic 1.3: Socio cultural and economic drivers

Workshop 1.3.A: New resources frontiers in Mountain regions - Challenges for the Global South - merged with Workshop 3.4.B

Moderators: Martin Coy (Chair), Fernando Ruiz Peyré, Raquel Gil Montero    

From 2000 onwards, soaring commodity prices and the unrestricted proliferation of extractive activities have caused significant spatial, political and socio-economic consequences in producer countries with large extractive economies. In this context, new resource frontiers (new areas of resource extraction) emerged in many mountain regions in the Global South, causing socio-economic, socio-ecological, as well as territorial challenges. In general, resource frontiers follow internal logics of extractive economies and are subordinated to the rules of globalization (e.g. by the incorporation in in global commodity chains). The aim of the workshop is to compare “resource stories” from different socio-cultural and ecological contexts in order to understand the multidimensional and contradictory character of resource extraction and to evaluate possible transitions towards a sustainability-oriented transformation.


Question 1: What are the specific conditions for the emergence and incorporation of resource frontiers in mountain regions in the Global South under the conditions of Global Change?

Question 2: What are the resulting challenges for socio-ecological transformations?

This workshop connects different regional, historical, socio-economic and socio-ecological perspectives in interdisciplinary research of extractive economies in mountain regions.

Workshop 1.3.B: Challenges and potentials of demographic change in Mountain regions

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Ingrid Machold (Chair), Andrea Membretti  

Many mountain regions, particularly in its more peripheral parts, face considerable demographic changes. On the one hand, there are considerable challenges due to a significant outmigration mainly of the younger cohorts, implying a trend towards overageing and a loss of skilled workers in these regions. On the other hand, many mountain regions also record considerable immigration of different groups of people, like amenity migrants or returnees or labour, but also migrants (many of them having come already as ‘guestworkers’ in past decades) and more recently forced migrants (asylum seekers and refugees). While demographic change as such already poses challenges to the social and economic fabric of local areas and puts severe pressure on local development of these mountain regions, in addition to that changes in life styles, increasing flexible working arrangements, persistent gender inequalities (due to the access to resources and distribution of income and workload) lead to social transformation and increasing social and cultural diversity in mountain regions.

This workshop encourages contributions that analyze features of demographic change in mountain regions in all its different characteristics including

  • Trends, patterns and types of demographic change in mountain regions.
  • Explanations of, and theoretical perspectives on demographic change in mountain regions.
  • Analysis of the place-based transformational impact (social, economic, cultural) on different types of mountain regions.
  • Analysis to what extent mountain regions present specific challenges and patterns as well as models for migrant integration.
  • Examples of good practice, particularly with regard to governance and social innovation.

Question 1: How does the loss of population and the approach towards migrant integration in mountain regions differ from the approaches in other regions?

Question 2: Under what conditions (political, social, economic, environmental) are the “newcomers” able to become drivers for local and regional development, social and cultural innovation, community resilience, and lead to a reconsideration of the relationship between urban and rural areas?

Question 3: What is the impact of population flows on changes in the physical space and how do these movements re-shape and transform local geographies?


Workshop 1.3.C: Social inclusive development in Mountain regions analyzed along gender, generation and diversity as driver for adaption to structural changes

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Theresia Oedl-Wieser (Chair), Karin Zbinden Gysin   

Farming families in mountain regions play an important role regarding the agricultural production and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. Furthermore, they are active in climate change adaption and disaster management as well as in preservation of biodiversity. Due to ongoing societal, ecological and economic challenges, adaptation and innovation of role models is crucial for gender and generational adaptations in farming families, diversification and integration of off-farm jobs and tasks. Despite of their important activities and performances for a sustainable and social inclusive development in mountain regions, the vital roles of women, young as well as retired farmers are often invisible and not appreciated enough in society. There still exist structural discrimination, especially of women, which are caused by patriarchal societies, social and cultural norms as well as difficult economic situations. Mountain regions are gendered spaces, which means that the living conditions, resources, power relations and perspectives for a good livelihood are unequally distributed between men and women. Considering the need to foster the dynamic and sustainable development of mountain regions all over the world it is of paramount importance to reflect and integrate issues, problems and needs of these various rural actors to a larger extent in research, public policy and in worldwide decision-making agendas.

In this workshop contributions are welcome that deal with the different living and working conditions of women and men as well as active and retired generations or other disadvantaged groups in mountain regions and their capacity to shape their economic, social and ecological environment all over the world. The following topics are of relevance:

  • Role models of women and men of different generations as represented in the economic, social and ecological sphere in mountain regions, their challenges and changes,
  • Explanations and theoretical perspectives of the unequal situation of disadvantaged groups in mountain regions,
  • Role of women and men according to their socially attributed roles in climate adaption and disaster management of mountain regions,
  • Analysis to what extent livelihoods in mountain regions face specific societal and socio-economic challenges,
  • Good practice examples, particularly with regard to governance and social innovation.

Question 1: How can the acknowledgement, the appreciation and the understanding of the vital role of actors of different genders and age in mountain regions be strengthened?

Question 2: How can efforts of policy interventions better address the local realities and needs of women and men as well as of other disadvantaged groups in adapting to changing socio-ecological and socio-economic situations?

Question 3: How can different generations on family farms get support for adaptations and renegotiations of roles (tasks, rights and duties) in order to run a farm sustainably?

Question 4: How can gendered power relations in mountain regions be transformed although these processes are inherently political and demanding?


This workshop connects themes of gender and generational issues in relation to agriculture in mountain regions, biodiversity, climate change and disaster management.

Workshop 1.3.D: Sustainability of urban agglomerations in Mountain regions, especially in developing nation contexts

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Sunder Subramanian (Chair), Manfred Perlik, Carolina Adler  

Cities and towns – i.e., urban agglomerations - are ecosystems in their own right, and evolve as the outcome of myriad interactions between the individual choices and actions of many human agents (e.g., households, businesses, developers, and governments) and bio-physical agents such as local geomorphology, climate, and natural disturbance regimes. These choices produce different patterns of development, land use, and infrastructure density. It is useful to consider cities and towns as have metabolisms, and are heterotrophic, meaning they not only depend heavily for example on the food web outside its boundaries (predominantly rural areas!!), they are also dependent on materials and energy from outside its boundaries. This affects ecosystem processes, both directly (in and near the city) and remotely through land conversion, use of resources, and generation of emissions and waste. Those changes, in turn, affect human health and well-being. It is thus evident that cities and towns, and the rural landscape around them and their communities today largely do not exist in isolation, but are very strongly influenced by each other. 

The implications of this ‘heterotrophic-ness’ are profound, with major implications for rural areas and communities, especially in mountain regions, and even more so in mountain areas in developing nation contexts. To ensure sustainability of rural landscapes and their communities in mountain contexts, it is also likely that urban agglomerations in mountain contexts also develop sustainably - and this will require a solid understanding of how they function as ecosystems at several spatial scales. 

We obviously need to seek to develop this new basis for constructing the human built environment in mountain regions, and especially so in developing nation mountain contexts — a basis that results in both less damaging and destructive impacts on natural systems, yet also offers a more positive vision of mutually beneficial contact between people and nature, between urban areas and their rural continuum. Yet, surprisingly, this is an under-researched area, and merits substantive investigation, since most urban agglomerations say for example, in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region are inherently unsustainable, and poorly managed.This has implications for across multiple sustainability domains: architecture, urban design, urban renewal, regional planning, energy, food systems, fresh water, etc. 

The goals of this suggested workshop, therefore, given the relatively under-researched status of the topic of sustainability of urban agglomerations in mountain contexts (with emphasis on developing nation contexts), therefore are to (i) bring together researchers to review the current state of knowledge on the subject; (ii) to identify gaps in understanding of this complex topic and prioritise research needs; and (iii) take initial steps towards development of appropriate research methods, practitioner guidance frameworks, as well as examine interim policy options. 

Specific Topic 1.4. Human environmental and social interactions in Mountain landscapes - the paleo-perspective

Workshop 1.4.A: Mining the mountains – impact on environment and human societies

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Gert Goldenberg (Chair), Peter Tropper    

The exploitation of mineral resources is one of the ancestral productions of mankind. Ethnographic and archaeological models assume that in the early stages this production consisted both of systematic exploitation and a noticeable social and ritual component for the implementing societies. Later basic revolutions emanating from big settlements and innovations on agriculture brought about a capacity-orientated production (copper, salt …) and the pyrotechnical progresses in smelting enabled systematic exploitation of available ore deposits. Therefore prehistoric and historic mining activities left profound effects on landscape, vegetation and environment due to the huge demand on raw materials as well as the supply of food for the maintenance of the miner communities. Since the 4th millennium BC metallurgy spread to Europe initially rather as a social principle than a technological one and hence a first period of metallurgy (Pfyn/Altheim/Mondsee) ends without consequences on culture. In the late 3rd millennium metallurgy was influenced by a south-eastern technological tradition and new concepts of metal supply were established. From then on copper and copper alloys (bronze) became the ubiquitous basic commodity. The ore deposits in the Eastern Alps are usually small and contain a variety of different sulfide minerals, which led to complex technologies (e. g. underground mining, smelting of sulfur-bearing ores) and thus the conformity in mining, beneficiation and smelting required an extensive level of communication and economy within different societies (e. g. logistic concepts, exchange of experts, transhumance). The important economic, social and environmental impacts caused by the exploitation of mineral resources during the metal Ages intensified in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age.

After the workshop a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:


Question 1: What do we know about prehistoric and historic mining and metallurgy in the Alps and their influence on society and environment?


This workshop connects to the workshop themes of “Socio-cultural and economic drivers (workshop 1.3.A) as well as “Cultural ecosystem services – conflicts and limits” (workshop 2.1.B).

Workshop 1.4.B: Mountain trails, trade routes & migration

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Michael Meyer (Chair), Caroline von Nicolai    

Prehistoric life in mountainous regions is often regarded as challenging due to altitude related temperature decline and air-thinning, declining habitat productivity and increasing fragmentation of ecotones. At the other hand, mountainous regions are known to be hot spots of biodiversity and provide a wide range of niches for species and species diversity, due to topographic-climate interactions and because mountains can host climatically different life zones over short elevation distances. Mountain regions also provide fresh water, raw materials for stone tools or metallurgy and other resources important for prehistoric societies such as salt or wood, hence are of supra-regional importance. Furthermore, mountains favour the development of gateway communities.

Motivation for human migration into mountain environments was constantly changing through time, depending on the overall climatic and environmental conditions and the socio-economic developments in the adjacent lowlands. Mountains might have offered attractive living places or even refugia to prehistoric people during certain times and climates of the past; ore, salt and other resources might have attracted people regionally facilitating social development; mountain passes funnelled trade and migration. Today numerous methods are available including archaeological, archaeobotanical, ethnological, isotopic, genetic and modelling approaches to investigate human migration and trace prehistoric pathways in alpine settings. This workshop focuses on the various methods and advances in documenting and understanding human migration in mountainous regions such as the European Alps and other (high) alpine settings.

After the workshop a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:


Question 1: Why, how and when do humans explore mountain landscapes and what are the geological, climatic and ecological consequences and/or constraints.

Question 2: How do migration patterns, mountain trails and trade route networks get established and change through time and what are the socioeconomic consequences if any?


This workshop connects to themes of climatic changes in mountain regions (specific topic 1.1), terrestrial mountain ecosystems under changing climate (specific topic 1.3). and socio-ecologic resilience of agri-food systems in mountain regions (specific topic 3.3).

Workshop 1.4.C: Subsistence strategies for Mountain regions

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Klaus Oeggl (Chair), Barbara Stopp    

Mountain regions seem to be hostile for human habitation. Nonetheless, peopling of temperate mountains is well known since the Epigravettian at the latest. In this initial phase the procurement of raw materials and hunting plaid a decisive role. Later, the introduction of metallurgy resulted in sustainable socio-economic changes in prehistoric Central Europe. As in other regions, also in the Alps, prehistoric mining induced population growth and a higher societal stratification. Without doubt these socio-economic changes must have had substantial implications for subsistence regimes. Since then agriculture had to generate surpluses to supply societies based on division of labour with consumer goods and working materials. Given the restricted farming techniques and agricultural areas in mountain regions this demanded innovations and changes in subsistence strategies until today.

This session aims to bring together scholars of a range of bio-archaeological disciplines investigating dietary habits and food supply of past mountain people encompassing foragers as well as farming societies on a global scale since the Palaeolithic up to the early modern period. Basic questions are to differentiate between producer and consumer sites to gain a better understanding of how populations were organised in terms of labour division and subsistence strategies in mountain areas.

After the workshop a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:


Question 1: How did past climate modulate subsistence regimes in mountain areas? Did human activities provoke and exacerbate ecological consequences?

Question 2: What were the implications on peopling and cultures of mountain areas?


This workshop connects to the themes of terrestrial mountain ecosystems under changing climate (workshop 1.3) and socio-ecologic resilience of agri-food systems in mountain regions (workshop 3.3).


General Topic II - Consequences

Specific Topic 2.1: Ecosystem services from Mountain regions

Workshop 2.1.A: Communicating Ecosystem Services from Mountains

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Johannes Rüdisser (Chair), Stefan Marzelli, Georg Leitinger    

Ecosystem services describe goods and benefits humans receive from ecosystems. The ecosystem service framework, which focuses on the interface between ecosystems and the society, not only stimulates interdisciplinary research, but is also an advantageous concept to build support for environmental conservation and to promote the societal relevance of intact ecosystems. Although the ecosystem service concept gained some attention following the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, public awareness about ecosystem services is still very limited. An increasing number of applications show that well designed ecosystem service indicators can be a useful tool to facilitate the understanding of highly complex human-environmental systems. In this inter- and transdisciplinary session, we focus on new and innovative communication approaches to disseminate the ecosystem service concept in general, and distinct ecosystem services in specific. Application can range from science communication tools to new indicators or indicator frameworks addressing specific stakeholders or the public.


Question 1: How can we foster public awareness and understanding for ecosystem services?

Question 2: How can ecosystem service assessment support the development and execution of sustainable policies and environmental conservation strategies?


This workshop connects themes of socio-ecological research, mountain ecosystems, ecosystem services and adaptation strategies.

Workshop 2.1.B: Cultural ecosystem services – conflicts and limits

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Uta Schirpke (Chair), Rocco Scolozzi     

Mountain areas are highly important for the provision of cultural ecosystem services (CES), offering for example many recreational opportunities, aesthetic landscape enjoyment, and inspiration to both local populations and their visitors. Whereas the use of CES in remote mountain areas was often limited in accessibility, today many areas are becoming more and more accessible to outdoor sports (e.g. downhill-mountain biking, canyoning, free-climbing). In many locations, these activities are facilitated by artefacts or infrastructures (e.g. bike trails, cableways), resulting that CES can be impacted by growing user frequency. This increase may cause conflicts among different types of users and may affect mountain agriculture and biodiversity conservation.

To assure the benefits derived from the mountain landscape on the long-term, landscape management should evaluate and consider thresholds and limitations of use, frequency, and accessibility in qualitative, quantitative and spatial terms. Experiences in dealing with such complex issues are rare and applicable methods are still under development. To facilitate a better and shared understanding, this workshop aims at identifying and discussing approaches to define limits in use, accessibility, and disturbance on CES. It will further analyze approaches and instruments that can support the management of CES.

We welcome contributions related to the assessment and evaluation of CES in mountain regions, approaches to identify conflicts, limits of sustainable use, and consequences of use as well as examples on how to successfully manage local impacts and disturbances.

After the workshop, we aim to discuss a potential paper on conflicts and limits in the use of CES with selected authors.


Question 1: How can we define conflicts and limits related to CES in mountain regions?

Question 2: How can we assess these conflicts and limits?

Question 3: What can we learn from successful management experiences?

This workshop connects themes of socio-ecological research, assessing and mapping cultural ecosystem services, sustainable development.

Workshop 2.1.C: Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Sites as monitoring networks - opportunities and challenges

    WS Output      WS Presentations  

Moderators: Ulrike Tappeiner (Chair), Georg Niedrist, Davnah Payne, Thomas Spiegelberger    

Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites and LTSER (Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research) platforms are a global network meant to deliver scientific expertise on our ecosystems and environment, as well as for the modelling of future scenarios and the development of management strategies facing severe global changes and mountain ecosystems are seen to be particularly sensitive to these changes.

A key aspect of LTER is the provision of long-term data and information for a better understanding of ecosystems and their ability to provide ecosystem services we depend on. As data and metadata are managed by sites and platforms individually and because there are many different data owners, careful consideration on data management is highly important. This includes: Data assessment (e.g. the usage of standardized protocols for basic measurements, minimum equipment etc.), data storage systems (e.g. DEIMS), used data formats, data quality assurance, as well as a joint data sharing policy. Within the LTER community, used methods for long-term data management and data sharing are under constant refinement.

This workshop session will explore used data management strategies within the LTER community and their contribution to mountain ecosystem service assessment.

After the workshop a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:


Question 1: How can/do LTER sites and LTSER platforms contribute to mountain ecosystem service assessment?

Question 2: How can data quality in a global network, such as LTER, be assured in order to be used, worked with and shared between different sites and platforms for scientific research/investigations?


This workshop connects themes of monitoring networks, data management, socio-ecological research, mountain ecosystems and ecosystem services.

Specific Topic 2.2: Terrestrial Mountain ecosystems under global change

Workshop 2.2.A: The future of Mountain forests

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Stefan Mayr (Chair),  Maaike Bader, Frida Piper Georg GratzerMichael Bahn    

Climate change will pose multifold challenges to mountain forests. Changes in precipitation and temperature regimes as well as more frequent and intense climate extremes will influence mountain forests directly (e.g. drought-induced dieback, increasing frequency of forest fires, reduction in frost resistance, rising of the timberline) and indirectly (e.g. bark beetle calamities, pathogens, wind blasts), and intensively managed forests at lower elevation as well as high elevation protective forests.

Mountain forests provide numerous important ecosystem-services, with protective functions being most important. Tree stands at higher elevation prevent erosion and avalanches, and thus are the prerequisite for settlements at lower sites. Up to the timberline, not only the protective role of forests increases but also expected climatic changes, which will amplify local and regional effects of resulting changes in mountain forests. As knowledge of tree life and forest ecosystems in mountain regions is still limited, further research on the responses of mountain forests to a future and on their sustainable management is urgently needed.

Question 1: How will changes in climatic parameters and their complex interrelation affect mountain forests, and how will changes in vitality, structure, composition etc. of mountain forests influence their functions?

Question 2: Which direct/indirect and primary/secondary effects will cause relevant damages or dieback with respect to spatial and temporal scales?

Question 3: Which counter strategies can help to overcome negative effects induced by climate change?

Workshop 2.2.B: Mountain grasslands under global change

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Michael Bahn (Chair), Richard Bardgett, Paul Illmer, Sandra Lavorel, Stefan Mayr     

Grasslands are an important component of mountain landscapes. They are a common ecosystem type above the treeline. In many mountain regions, subalpine and montane grasslands were created by humans to support livestock and thus human livelihood. Over the recent decades mountain grasslands have been exposed to significant changes in land use and climate. Land-use changes have involved intensification, conversions from hay meadows to pastures and, most frequently, complete abandonment of grasslands. Climate warming has been particularly pronounced in many mountain regions, and in the coming decades is expected to cause changes in snow cover patterns and favour the occurrence of severe droughts.

Individually and collectively, these global changes may affect mountain grasslands on multiple levels and scales. They may lead to changes in the vegetation and biogeochemical cycles, with downstream consequences for productivity, nutrient cycling, greenhouse gas emissions and water yield. In this workshop we will explore the mechanisms underlying grassland responses to global changes and identify consequences for grassland functioning.


Question 1: How do changes in climate, atmospheric CO2 concentrations, nitrogen deposition and land-use alter the productivity and biogeochemical cycles of mountain grasslands?

Question 2: How do plants and plant-soil interactions respond to these global changes and what are the consequences for ecosystem processes?

Question 3: What generalized conclusions can be drawn on grassland responses to global changes across mountains globally?

Workshop 2.2.C: Towards a global understanding of the functional ecology of mountain soils

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Robert Mills (Chair), Thomas Walker, Konstantin Gavazov      

Our understanding of the functional ecology of mountain soils lags far behind the growing understanding of the ecology of mountain plant communities and their response to change. This restricts our ability to robustly predict change-impacts on mountain systems, and to generalise across spatial scales about mountain functional ecology. Further, without this fundamental understanding, we are unable to inform on the sustainable use of mountain soils for agriculture and water resource provision, thereby threatening their long-term functioning.

The strong environmental gradients across elevation and snow-cover gradients, as well as topographic microhabitats in mountains provide substantial sources of variance which, from a belowground perspective, are poorly reconciled, and contribute to poor predictive capability across the worlds mountains. Given the observed and projected changes to snow-cover and to thermal regimes, mountain soils are unlikely to respond uniformly, and thus we urgently require a better understanding of how soil biology and the carbon and nutrients stored in our global mountain soils will respond to change.

Recent advances and current activities such as the global FEAST project (functional ecology of alpine systems) are working towards improving our understanding of mountain soils, and the community stands at a crucial point to define the needs of integrated ecosystem ecology of the worlds mountains. This workshop will focus on the most pressing questions in the functional ecology of mountain soils to distil our current understanding and define a short and medium-term route towards integrated research across our extant networks.

Specifically we will address:

Question 1: What are the most pressing research challenges we should address over the short and longer-term to understand the nature and sensitivity of mountain soils globally?

Question 2: Using our existing understanding, to what extent can we currently comment on the state of mountain soils in terms of biodiversity, carbon accumulation and sensitivity to change?

Question 3: What experiments and coordinated activities do we need to answer these pressing challenges?


 The workshop will lead to a detailed opinion paper on mountain soils and the key challenges they face, contextualised by their role in meeting the UN sustainable development goals..

Workshop 2.2.D: Mountain biodiversity and ecosystems under global change

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Davnah Payne (Chair), Eva Spehn, Aino Kulonen, Harald Pauli  

Mountains worldwide host very rich biodiversity, are home to hundreds of millions of people, and provide billions of upland and lowland inhabitants with vital ecosystem services and sources of livelihoods. However, mountains, including their highest alpine habitats, are increasingly exposed to changes in climate and land use, environmental pollution, large-scale political and socio-economic transformations, and unsustainable management of natural resources. In the face of the growing challenges brought about by human activities, effective policies and management approaches are needed to safeguard the natural assets that are underpinning human wellbeing along the elevational gradient from the highlands to the lowlands and ultimately “ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems” (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15.4). The formulation and implementation of such contextually relevant approaches requires a thorough understanding of how mountain biodiversity and ecosystems respond to direct and indirect drivers of change; how they contribute to human wellbeing across scales; and how their conservation can be achieved in the context of competing development goals, limited resources, and complex governance structures. However, currently we have a limited understanding of the drivers that operate at different scales and within different taxonomic groups along the elevational gradient; of the importance of variation in physical, biotic, and abiotic factors on the distribution of species across habitats; and of how changes in biodiversity and ecosystems in mountains affect the provision of ecosystem services and ultimately the wellbeing of populations in both highlands and lowlands. Many of these uncertainties limit our ability to develop robust scenarios for the future.

 With this session the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) in collaboration with the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) aim at catalysing research efforts towards a sustainable future for mountain biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide.

The goals of this session are:

  • to review current knowledge and knowledge gaps in mountain biodiversity and ecosystem sciences under global change, including the effect of and interaction between large- and small-scale drivers of change
  • to formulate research priorities toward advancing mountain ecosystem and global change science, notably in terms of identifying species and habitat of high conservation priority.

We particularly welcome contributions from the community of mountain scientists working in high alpine ecosystems and who are applying different methods such as monitoring, assessments, and predictive modelling.


Specific Topic 2.3: Mountain cryosphere and hydrosphere

Workshop 2.3.A: Mountain socio-hydrology in a changing climate

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Thomas Marke (Chair), Gabriele Chiognia, Ulrich Strasser     

Socio-hydrology represents an innovative concept for understanding interactions in coupled human–water systems and supporting integrated and sustainable water management. Mountain regions play a fundamental role for water provisioning and spatiotemporal changes in precipitation and temperature patterns are expected to severely affect both the timing and the amount of water available for human activities. The workshop "Mountain (socio-)hydrology in a changing climate" discusses different aspects of climate change impacts on water resources in mountain regions with emphasis on feedbacks between social and hydrological processes. Examples of such bidirectional interactions in human-water systems cover topics related to agricultural and energy production, tourism or forest management.

With this workshop we aim at fostering the international discussion on climate change impacts on mountain water resources with focus on the interplay of water and humans. Contributions (submitted from scientists from both natural and social sciences) promoting new insights and discussing new findings in the context of existing knowledge in the field are very welcome.

After the workshop a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:


Question 1: How do climate change effects on mountain water resources compare to the influence of the human dimension?

Question 2: Which human activities enhance the effects of climate change on water resources in mountain regions? And which human activities moderate them?

 This workshop connects to the workshops “Consequences of climate change for the cryosphere”, “Distal impact of change in mountain regions” as well as “Flows and sediments in mountain catchments”.

Workshop 2.3.B: Consequences of climate change for the cryosphere

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Lindsey Nicholson (Chair), Christian Huggel, Tobias Sauter     

Changes in the mountain cryosphere are one of the more visible indications of changing mountain conditions. In this workshop session we will consider the current state of knowledge of how mountain snow, glaciers and permafrost are changing, and expected to change in the future, based on observations and model projections. We are interested in changes in: (i) amounts, extents, properties, seasonality and duration of snowfall, (ii) glacier mass, runoff geometry and behaviour, and (iii) extent and seasonality of frozen ground. As the core of this workshop we will discuss the reliability of this field and model data and identify critical remaining unknowns for the coming century. Further discussion will focus on examples of how the changing cryosphere is expected to impact other earth system components, ecosystems and human socio-economic activities in the mountain environment.

We welcome contributions based on data of cryospheric change, and/or the impacts of cryospheric change, from mountains around the world. We may focus on some key locations and examples depending on the nature of the contributions received.

After the workshop a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:

Question 1: How well do we know what will happen to snow, glaciers and permafrost in the coming century across the mountains of the world?


This workshop connects to themes of local and distal hydrological impacts, mountain ecosystem change and changing mountain sediment fluxes and hazards.

Workshop 2.3.C: Lakes in Mountain regions as integrative landscape elements: ecosystem services and threats

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Rainer Kurmayer (Chair), Michael Strasser, Josef Wanzenböck     

Due to their rather pristine nature the lakes in the European Alps are considered most valuable. Various integrated environmental pressures in the past affected key biota and ecosystem ecological function and in consequence the provision of ecosystem services (ES). One prominent example is the impressive reoligotrophication process after severe eutrophication during the 1970-1980ies but resulting in an overall decrease in fisheries yield two decades later.

This workshop aims to summarize,

(1) the variability of the lakes’ key biota response to anthropogenic resource use (i.e. ecological and evolutionary responses under anthropogenic stressors);

(2) the long-term variability and resistance as inferred from lake sediments as archives for reconstruction of long-term geologic and tectonic processes and paleo-environmental and paleo-climatic changes.

(3) Changes and use of alpine lake ecosystems and the evaluation of ES in dependence on ecosystem resistance and resilience. The synthesis should aim to describe the stability of ES provided under the general scenario of climate change and more intense use within the near future.

Open Think Tank 2.3.D: Distal impacts of hydrospheric and cryospheric changes in Mountain regions

    TT Output      TT Presentations      TT Posters

Moderators: Kristin Richter (Chair), Ben Marzeion     

The impacts of cryospheric and hydrological change in mountain regions can extend well beyond the mountain range itself.

The approach and passage of peak water discharge from changing mountain glaciers fundamentally alters the downstream hydrological contributions of mountain regions, and establishing the timing of peak water in the global mountains is valuable in longer term planning perspectives.

Conditions in mountains control the headwater discharge of rivers that provide for large populations downstream, and especially in arid basins runoff from the mountain cryosphere constitutes a vital baseflow during the driest seasons. In addition, receding mountain glaciers are the second largest contribution to current sea level rise, whose impacts are felt in distal coastal regions.

This workshop session explores the distal consequences of changes in the mountain hydrosphere and cryosphere by first assessing the state of current understanding of these processes, discussing locations where the mountains are particularly important for distal impacts, and finally discussing the case of such distal effects as an illustrative example of how localized environmental changes have transnational and global impacts.

After the workshop a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:

Question 1: How important are changes in mountain hydrological regimes to downstream hydrological issues in comparison to other factors such as changing downstream population, land and water usage?

Question 2: How important is mid-latitude mountain cryospheric change to regional and global sea level rise?


This workshop connects to themes of the changing mountain cryosphere, socio-hydrology and global adaptation to change.

Workshop 2.3.E: Flows and sediments in Mountain catchments - merged with Workshop 2.4.B!

Moderators: Bernhard Gems (Chair), Stefan Achleitner, Francesco Comiti     

Flows characterize the shape of landscape in mountain areas worldwide. Amongst, they provide an enormous diversity of habitats, are used for leisure activities, allow production of renewable energy and, by contrast, they represent a substantial threat to settlements by means of fluvial hazards. In all aspects, mobilisation, transport and deposition of sediments play a crucial role. Long-term, mean erosion rates at the catchment scale, transport mechanisms or rather the influence of sediment availability on transport are important issues of current research in mountain regions. Here the influences of topographic, climatic and geological conditions and as well the spatio-temporal variability of flows and sediment transport and erosion processes are of major importance. With specific regard to the design of structural measures for hydropower use and flood protection, ecological aspects dealing with sediment continuity became increasingly important in the recent past.

With the focus mainly on bed-load and suspended sediments, this workshop is aimed to focus on the recent and potential future trends of flows and sediment yields in mountain regions worldwide. Changing climate conditions impacting its spatio-temporal characteristics on the local and regional scale are discussed. Secondly, the need of preserving sediment continuity at specific conditions and spots in the rivers, potential conflicts with economic objectives and flood protection aims are discussed. In this context, smart and integral structural and river engineering solutions are also highlighted.


Question 1: Do we need to force observation of sediment dynamics in mountain regions and further enhance measurement techniques?

Question 2: Is there a relevant change in sediment dynamics in mountain regions expected due to climate change impacts in the next decades?

Question 3: Do we need to spend more effort in restoring and sustaining sediment continuity in mountain rivers?


This workshop connects to themes of natural hazards modelling, vulnerabilities and risks, interaction of dams and torrent controls with fluvial processes, climate change impacts on catchments hydrology and mountain lakes analyses.

Specific Topic 2.4: Mountain Hazards and risks

Workshop 2.4.A: Remote sensing techniques and data for natural hazard research

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Martin Rutzinger (Chair), Bernhard Höfle, Roderik Lindenbergh     

Natural hazards processes occurring in mountain areas endanger human living and effect regions, which are already limited by their spatial resources. Many of them are interlinked by hydrological conditions, geomorphological and geological processes interacting with vegetation. Such hazards are for example shallow and deep-seated landslides, hillslope erosion, and rock fall. Vegetation may act as stabilisation factor by the contribution of root tensile strength but also by influencing hydrological soil conditions after rainfall. Anthopogenic processes such as land use change and infrastructure development at susceptible areas may strongly impact on hazardous processes. This session will present Earth Observation techniques for automated quantification of surface changes, monitoring and modelling of such natural hazards and related processes. Contributions working with satellite and airborne sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles, geosensor networks and terrestrial static and moving platforms including robotics are welcome.


Question 1: Will artificial intelligence and robotics boost or limit Natural Hazard Research in mountain areas?

Question 2: What 3D and 4D remote sensing data is available or missing for Natural Hazard Research in mountain areas?

Workshop 2.4.B: Natural hazards assessment – potential, limits and uncertainties of process models and interactions of processes with protection structures and buildings

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Jan-Thomas Fischer (Chair), Bernhard Gems (Chair), Sven Fuchs, Johannes Hübl, Margreth Keiler, Barbara Schneider-Muntau     

The main consequence of natural hazards is the impact on lives, material assets and monetary loss. Natural hazards repeatedly have a significant impact on buildings and infrastructures and despite their local character they cause substantial annual costs in mountain areas worldwide. Understanding these impact dynamics and the interaction with the elements at risk is still a major challenge and so far considered mainly with empirical approaches. Mitigation efforts, being rooted in spatial planning activities or in local structural protection, benefit from further insights into the characteristics of impact dynamics. However, incorporating all related processes into one analysis requires a chain of different models and simulation tools. For these model chains, establishing the connections between output data of one model element and input data for the consecutive model element remains challenging. Most of the time starting point for natural hazard assessment is meteorological modelling. At the end of the model chain, in order to assess potential damages, the process interaction with buildings or infrastructure in the runout zone need to be modeled in terms of the resulting impact pressures. Moreover, all parts of the model chain are impacted by uncertainties, which originate from uncertainties of the measured input data and from model assumptions, model implementation, boundary and initial conditions. Other sources of uncertainties include the limited quantity of high quality field observations and data that is necessary to calibrate or validate the models, as well as the definition of design events, which is required for risk assessments. Return periods or occurrence probabilities of design events vary for different processes and throughout the existing, international guidelines. Assessing and explicitly treating these uncertainties, e.g. by applying probabilistic approaches, remains a current challenge and will be addressed in this workshop. This workshop also represents a platform for discussing available knowledge on the interaction of the hazard processes with elements at risk. Besides exchanging methods and case study results, the aim is to discover niches and establish needs for further research. Differences in country-specific / regional methodical and modeling approaches as well as management strategies are discussed. Further, possible needs for the research of natural hazards impacts and vulnerabilities due to changing climate and, more general, environmental dynamics are highlighted. The workshop is addressed both to researchers and experts with a comprehensive knowledge and experience in the fields of hazard modeling, vulnerability research, and / or planning strategies. Also aspects of innovative technical protection solutions, monitoring programs or early alert systems are discussed.


Question 1:    How valuable, reliable and uncertain are the results of process models and model chains as essential information for the assessment of natural hazards and related risks?

 Question 2:    Do we need to force observation and measurement techniques in mountain regions to enhance process understanding and the quality of model results?

 Question 3:    What are possibilities and limitations in early warning and protection systems?

 Question 4:    Is there a need to think about new designs of natural hazards protection structures or the enhancement of existing structures to cope with future extreme events and to better consider aspects of ecological and economic sustainability?

 Question 5:    How can we deepen our understanding of process-building-interaction and enhance available approaches for vulnerability analysis?

Workshop 2.4.C: Impacts resulting from slope movement - merged with Workshop 2.4.B!

Moderators: Barbara Schneider-Muntau (Chair), Daniela Engl     

This workshop deals with hazards and risks arising from slope movements, e.g. in the form of mass movements. The topic includes the methodology for the assessment of slope movements as well as various new approaches for the modeling of slope movement. This workshop offers space for the presentation of newly developed guidelines as recommendation for handling, but also for the presentation of interesting case studies.

All kind of slope movements find place in this workshop, starting from slow slope movements (e.g. slope creeping) up to very fast slope movements (e.g. rockfalls).

The interrelationships between slope movements and vulnerabilities and impacts on Alpine infrastructure should be worked out in detail. Also proposals for innovative technical protection solutions, monitoring programs or early alert systems are welcome.

Question 1: What triggers or stops massmovements?

Question 2: What are possibilities and limitations in early warning and protection systems?


This workshop connects to themes of interaction of infrastructure with all kind of mass movements, early warning systems and innovative protection systems.

Workshop 2.4.D: Vulnerabilities of and impacts on infrastructures in mountains – Fluvial Hazards - merged with Workshop 2.4.B!

Moderators: Bernhard Gems (Chair), Sven Fuchs, Margreth Keiler     

Fluvial hazards are a major threat for mountain settlements. They repeatedly have a significant impact on buildings and infrastructures and despite their local character they cause substantial annual costs in mountain areas worldwide. Fluvial hazards are characterised by complex spatial and temporal interactions between physical properties and sediment content. As such, large amounts of sediment can be mobilised and relocated from torrential headwaters downstream to valley rivers and settlement areas. The approaching water-sediment-mixture impacting buildings and infrastructure facilities is part of a set of damage-generating mechanisms. Understanding these impact dynamics and the interaction with the elements at risk is still a major challenge and so far considered mainly with empirical approaches. Mitigation efforts, being rooted in spatial planning activities or in local structural protection, benefit from further insights into the characteristics of impact dynamics.

This workshop represents a platform for discussing available knowledge on the interaction of these hazard processes with elements at risk and between such interaction and available alternative empirical approaches. Besides exchanging methods and case study results, the aim is to discover niches and establish needs for further research. Differences in country-specific / regional methodical and modelling approaches as well as management strategies are discussed. Further, possible needs for the research of fluvial hazards impacts and vulnerabilities due to changing climate and, more general, environmental dynamics are highlighted. The workshop is addressed both to researchers and experts with a comprehensive knowledge and experience in the fields of fluvial hazard modelling, vulnerability research, and / or planning strategies.


Question 1: Which indicators are of major relevance when estimating potential impacts of fluvial hazards on elements at risk?

Question 2: How can we deepen our understanding of process-building-interaction and enhance available approaches for vulnerability analysis?


This workshop connects to themes of interaction of dams and torrent controls with fluvial processes, impacts of climate change on flows and sediment balance in mountain catchments and climate change impacts on catchments hydrology.

Workshop 2.4.E: Natural hazards’ risk governance under changing framework conditions

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Stefan Schneiderbauer (Chair), Lydia Pedoth, Doris Damyanovic     

Societies in mountain ranges worldwide frequently suffer damage and losses caused by natural hazards. In many cases, this is despite the fact that substantial resources have been invested in structural measures to reduce negative consequences of related hazardous processes. Often these impacts are due to an increase in exposure as well as vulnerabilities of populations, infrastructure and other assets rather than due to the intensity of hazards themselves. In addition to these societal dynamics, risk managers face growing variabilities and uncertainties related to changing climate conditions, which may also lead to new emerging risks previously unknown.

Within this context, dealing with natural risks increasingly touches upon the limits of risk control, the management of residual risk as well as the engagement of relevant actors and the civil society. Moreover, the growing diversity and heterogeneity of many communities and societies call for a strong consideration of the various ways amongst scientists, practitioners, decision makers and the general public, in which risks can be understood, perceived and assessed.

The resulting challenges require to manage risks in an integrated manner. This includes new approaches in risk communication, where communicating does not only mean informing or sending out messages but is understood as a social interaction with common understandings, signs and values.

Against this background, this workshop provides the opportunity to discuss strengths and constraints of non-structural measures to reduce risks and to support the establishment of a ‘risk competent’ society. Topics such as risk communication, the role of social media in risk management and the involvement of different levels of governance will be debated. Contributions will touch upon the connections of demographic, cultural and gender aspects with risk preparedness, risk communication as well as risk behavior.


Question 1: How could risk governance be designed to support diverse mountain communities on their way towards “risk competent societies”?

Question 2: Which measures and tools are required in integrated risk management to deal with current and emerging challenges triggered by natural hazards?


This workshop connects the overarching topic of consequences with this of response.

Workshop 2.4.F: Climate risk assessment: from climate impact research to adaptation planning

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators:  Marc Zebisch (Chair), Stefan Schneiderbauer   

Climate change impacts are already visible in mountains in many aspects and affect different socio-economic sectors such as water management, energy production, agriculture, forestry or tourism. While a lot of research is done on single impacts, integrative assessments of climate risks on social-ecological systems in mountains are missing. Risk assessments need to consider a variety of root causes of relevance for risks including the  “hazards” (e.g. heavy rain events, landslides, avalanches) f, but also factors, which contribute to the vulnerability of regions and social groups (e.g. urbanization processes, migration patterns,  demographic aspects, institutional setting etc.) and exposure factors (e.g. population density). With the help of so-called impact chains, the complex root causes of risks can be conceptualized into operational assessment models. The climate risk approach is widely accepted as a necessary step in preparing and evaluation adaptation plans and a key element of the IPCC reports of Working Group 2.

In this workshop we would like to discuss how the approach of a climate risk assessment can be used to translate scientific knowledge on impacts into demand for adaptation.


Question 1: Do we have enough understanding on climate related hazards, vulnerabilities and impacts in mountains to come up with mountain specific climate risk assessments? Where are the gaps?

Question 2: How can climate risk assessments inform and support the adaptation process (planning, monitoring, evaluation).


General Topic III – Responses

Specific Topic 3.1: Adaptation and transformation strategies for Mountain systems/infrastructures

Workshop 3.1.A: Mobility and Transport

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Markus Mailer (Chair), Constantinos Antoniou, Stephan Tischler     

There are several aspects determining mobility and traffic in mountain regions and therefore also the related requirements for adaption and transformation strategies. Beside the specific topography, which is influencing spatial structure and mobility as well as the transport systems, it is the composition and dynamic of traffic that is defining specific conditions. Furthermore the transport infrastructure is often vulnerable to natural hazards.

Although settlement in mountain areas is mainly limited to valleys settlement structures are rather heterogeneous. On the one side there a very densely populated agglomerations in the main valleys. On the other there are many remote and some rather isolated areas. But due to intensive tourism some of these mostly remote areas are changing their spatial usage during a year several times: often they show attributes similar to an urban area (high population density, traffic etc.) during high-season, but during low season they can be compared rather to rural areas.

In mountain regions daily traffic of residents and local enterprises is interfering with seasonally high traffic volumes related to tourism and recreational traffic as well as with considerable (truck) transit. These different traffic flows are using the main road infrastructure that is situated in the main valleys with only few or even no capable alternative routes. Rail infrastructure is even more limited since there are often no railways in the side valleys where public transport therefore can only be operated with buses. Not only mountain pass roads but also some of these major routes have to face the threat of blocks by rock falls, mud slides or avalanches as well as road closures due to trucks stuck on snow covered roads and even motorways in winter.

Due to these specific conditions vulnerability of the infrastructure related to natural hazards and resilience are very important in mountain regions. Resilience in mobility is related to accessibility and also means to care for alternative route and transport concepts.

The workshop focuses on strategies for the adaption and transformation of mobility, transport and traffic patterns and infrastructure in mountain regions also including mobility services and traffic management. The role of tourist travel and transit traffic will be considered. The workshop aims at highlighting and discussing experiences and approaches from countries worldwide also in the light of decarbonisation (e.g. electric vehicles) and digitalisation (e.g. autonomous vehicles) of traffic.


Question 1: How can mobility patterns be transformed and traffic infrastructure be adapted to face the social-ecological challenges of the future?

Question 2: How can mobility services and traffic management contribute to resilience of mobility and transport in mountain regions?

Question 3: How will electric and autonomous vehicle influence mobility and traffic in mountain regions considering the specific conditions and requirements of these regions?


This workshop connects to themes of transport planning, traffic management and traffic infrastructure design, modelling of traffic, mobility services in the context of the specific conditions and requirements of mountain regions and the challenges of future changes (transformation and digitalization of mobility and traffic, decarbonisation, natural hazards, tourism…).

Workshop 3.1.C: Dams and torrent control structures - merged with Workshop 2.4.B!

Moderators: Markus Aufleger (Chair), Bernhard Gems, Johannes Hübl      

Not only due to the further advancing change of climate conditions in the next decades but also due to already altered patterns of catchment-specific discharge and sediment loads in the recent past, the design of new dams and torrent control structures, the adaptation and maintenance of existing structures are challenging tasks. Large dams are designed to cope with extreme events in the context of flood protection of downstream settlements and to handle even more intense floods without any relevant structural damages of the dam structures. Torrent control structures, e.g. sediment retention, dosing or filter structures, are designed to cope with fluvial hazard events, which feature typically smaller intensities than those for large dams. However, common for these structures is that their structural design (spillway, overflow section, etc.) is based on certain hydrological / hydraulic scenarios with specific return intervals, which will potentially change with future harmonization of design floods, corresponding sediment loads, etc.

The present workshop focuses on present and future demands on the design and operation of dams for hydropower use and flood protection as well as of torrent control structures. Focus is put on handling exceptional events and, in this context, the definition of overload scenarios and its consideration in the planning process. The workshop will highlight and discuss experiences and approaches from countries worldwide. Needs for further research, reasonability of harmonizing different design approaches, etc. are highlighted.


Question 1: Do classical structures of/at dams and for torrent control in mountain regions feature sufficient overload capability?

Question 2: Is there a need to think about new designs of structures or the enhancement of existing structures due to future increase of fluvial hazards intensities?


This workshop connects to themes of natural hazards modelling, vulnerabilities and risks, impacts of climate change on flows and sediment balance in mountain catchments, sediment continuity and climate change impacts on catchments hydrology.

Workshop 3.1.D: Integrative approaches to adaptation and transformation research in Mountain systems

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Graham McDowell (Chair), Martin Price     

Climate change is dramatically altering living conditions in mountain systems, providing new challenges and opportunities for mountain residents. Information about the adaptive and transformative responses of mountain people and relevant institutions to these prospects is relevant to progress towards achieving several SDGs, meeting Paris Agreement obligations, and informing IPCC assessments. Accordingly, research focused on the human dimensions of climate change is of growing importance for sustainable mountain development. In this workshop we aim to highlight recent adaptation and transformation research, focusing on inter- and transdisciplinary projects that have incorporated insights from historically disparate disciplines (e.g. human geography, glaciology, ecology) and knowledge holders (e.g. scientist, community members, decision makers) to generate robust information for advancing sustainable responses to climate change. The workshop aims to foster generative conversations about the challenges, opportunities, and prospects for inter- and transdisciplinary adaptation and transformation research in mountain systems.


Question 1: How has evidence from existing integrative adaptation and transformation research improved understanding of responses to climate change in mountain systems?

Question 2: What challenges have impeded integrative adaptation and transformation research, and how might these barriers be overcome?

Question 3: How can insights from integrative adaptation and transformation research be operationalized to foster more sustainable responses to climate change in mountain systems?

Workshop 3.1.E: Renewable Energy: Impacts on Mountain environments and people

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Astrid Björnsen Gurung (Chair), Elke Kellner, Michael Lehning    

Mountain systems are well positioned to contribute significantly to the energy transition. Since more than a century, mountains have provided flexible, low-carbon hydropower and energy storage. With the increasing need to decarbonize the world’s economies, mountains - having above-average potentials for wind and solar power - are shifting into the focus of energy providers. In addition, many mountains sustain large quantities of energy-wood that could be used more extensively for electricity, heat or fuel production. Yet, the shift towards renewables has limitations as well as consequences. This workshop starts with pitches on (i) the current state of research on the potential of renewable energy in mountain regions (“What is possible?”). Participants will then discuss (ii) benefits as well as anticipated risks and environmental impacts of expanding mountains’ role as “power stations” (“What are likely consequences?”). Finally, perspectives will be collected on (iii) the desired energy futures of mountain regions (“What is our vision?”). As the energy topic is relevant to various sectors and disciplines, the workshop invites researchers and experts interested in the development of future visions on the role of mountain systems in supporting the energy transition in various parts of the world.

Open Think Tank 3.1.F: How prevent future conflict over the use and management of water in mountain regions?

    TT Output     TT Presentations      TT Posters

Moderators: Leopold Füreder (Chair), Valerie Braun   

Expected future changes in climatic conditions as well as the availability of and demand for water in Mountain region will result in novel stakeholder constellations in water use and lead to new social and legal requirements for water management. Many of these challenges concern Mountain regions worldwide, and solutions are best sought through international coordination and cooperation. In the policy brief resulting from the ForumAlpinum 2018 five fields of action have been identified as most urgent for the Alps as one example region:

  1. Balance water availability and water use.
  2. Reduce water pollution.
  3. Prevent conflict along rivers and in riverine plains.
  4. Preserve remaining near-natural aquatic ecosystems and landscapes.
  5. Provide useful data and develop appropriate procedures.


Within this Open Think Thank we would like to present the policy brief on Alpine Water Conflicts and case studies of different Mountain regions. We would like to discuss

  1. what are the major challenges for the use and management of water in Mountain regions from local to macro-regional scale?
  2. what kind of novel approaches are necessary to ensure cooperation and coordination among experts on a local to macro-regional scale to improve water management issues and to improve a cross-border dialogue?

The Open Think Tank invites researches and experts interested in the use and management of water in Mountain regions.


Important links:


Specific Topic 3.2: Transformation processes in Mountain tourism

Workshop 3.2.A: Adapting tourism destinations to changing availability of resources

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Robert Steiger (Chair), Bruno Abegg     

Tourism destinations are heavily dependant on natural, cultural and built attractions. The required ressources for these attractions are not infinite and are subject to changing quantity and quality. Climate change alters the availability and temporal distribution of climatic ressources such as snow or comfortable temperatures, societal changes within the destinations alter the availability of workforce for tourism, demographic changes alter the demand side including e.g. motives and travel patterns. Differing geographical distribution of these tourism relevant ressources and spatial heterogeneous intensity of changes are likely to cause spatially differentiated impacts and challenges. This session aims to better understand drivers and impacts of changing ressources relevant for tourism and potential solutions how to best address these changes.

This workshop connects the themes of institutional governance, resource management and impacts of events and festivals in mountain regions.

Workshop 3.2.B: DMOs, Destination Governance and management of events

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Mike Peters (Chair), Martin Schnitzer, Daniel Zacher     

Destination Management Organizations play an important role in community-driven destinations. Although, their marketing function is still of major importance DMO are forced to face various tasks: Monitoring trends and marketing changes, supporting product and service development processes or the formation of employer branding networks are only a few of these new and challenging functions. DMO serve as transformative institution and stakeholder manager and addresses adaptation processes with a long-term and thus strategic orientation and new governance structures. This workshop session aims at understanding this transformative function of DMOs in mountain regions e.g. with the help of world-wide best practices and up-to-date research in the field of tourism destination governance.

The goal of this workshop is a better understanding of the following questions:


Question 1: How can DMO face the challenges of multiple stakeholder management and marketing in times of scarce resources?

Question 2: Which management but also political and tourism planning functions need to be better developed to support DMO in order to optimize the destinations resources?

This workshop connects the themes of institutional governance, resource management and impacts of events and festivals in mountain regions.

Workshop 3.2.C: Managing major sports event in mountains – impacts, issues and development - merged with Workshop 3.2.B!

Specific Topic 3.3: Socio-ecologic resilience of agri-food systems in Mountain regions

Workshop 3.3.A: Adapting Mountain agro-food systems to climate change 

    WS Output 

Moderators: Markus Schermer (Chair), Rike Stotten, Marianne Penker     

Climate change enables new agricultural cultivation, such as the expanding horticulture and viticulture, or longer growing periods. This opens on the one hand new options for mountain farming to adapt their strategies and to reinvent. However new options for production may lead to conflicting strategies (e.g. intensive horticulture vs. organic grassland). On the other hand, new challenges may arise due to changes of rainfall patterns and prolonged drought periods. Moreover, the impact of climate change is not restricted to production, but includes consumption (e.g. by changing tourism patterns).

This workshop session explores the positive and negative consequences of climate change on production patterns on individual farms, within the farming community and in the relationships between farming and wider society.

We welcome contributions from social science (sociology, anthropology, geography…) using quantitative and/or qualitative approaches to explore issues on different scales from farm to local, regional, and global level. We are especially interested to receive contributions not only from the northern mountain regions but also from the global south.

After the workshop, a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:


Question 1: How do farmers deal with the new options and challenges?

Question 2: What collective strategies are emerging on different spatial levels?

Question 3: What are the consequences for the relationship between farming and wider society?


This workshop connects themes of mountain agro-food systems and climate change.

Workshop 3.3.B: Buffering socio-economic vulnerabilities of agro-food systems in Mountain regions

    WS Output      WS Presentations      WS Posters

Moderators: Markus Schermer (Chair), Rike Stotten, Andreja Borec     

Agro-food systems in mountain areas are challenged by their remoteness from centers of consumption, which results in socio-economic vulnerabilities, caused by higher transportation costs and a limited local consumer base. Often the terrain limits mechanization and growth of the individual farm, increases production costs and decreases competitiveness. In consequence, this diminishes the attractiveness for young farmers to take over. Thus, many mountain farms are operated in part time conditions and suffer from rural exodus. These conditions influence negatively the capacity to innovate and to respond to new options and challenges.

This workshop session explores new innovative approaches to battle these vulnerabilities. These may relate to product innovation, farm diversification, new entrants into farming, innovative educational initiatives or other approaches to improve the capabilities of actors within the agro-food system.

We welcome contributions that tackle the related questions in empirical case studies from all mountain regions around the world.

After the workshop, a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:


Question 1: What are best practice examples for innovative approaches to reduce the socio-economic vulnerability of agro-food systems in mountain regions?

Question 2: Who are the key actors involved to reduce socio-economic vulnerability?


This workshop connects themes of social and technical innovation.

Workshop 3.3.C: Transforming the societal framework to foster the sustainability of Mountain agro-food systems

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Moderators: Markus Schermer (Chair), Rike Stotten, Hilde Bjøkhaug    

Current socio-political frameworks in mountain regions, especially within the global north, increasingly separate the support for the provision of different eco-system services from the production of food. Support for production is steadily reduced and gradually shifted to environmental protective measures. At the same time we witness a shift from post-production to neo-productivism in rural development. Under neo-liberal conditions, agro-food systems in mountain areas are however not competitive. New collective approaches to deal with these adversities appear on different levels of governance from food value chains to territorial approaches, such as organic regions.

This workshop session explores these new approaches and seeks to assess their potential to transform agro-food systems toward sustainability and resilience.

We welcome contributions that focus on examples of best practice mountain food value chains, innovative ways of governing production, processing and marketing, civic food networks, rural urban linkages or trans-sectoral territorial co-operations. We specifically focus on governance mechanisms across different sectoral and spatial levels.

After the workshop, a better understanding of the following issues is envisioned:


Question 1: Which innovative forms of multilevel governance have the potential to transform the current mountain agro-food systems towards sustainability (social, economic and environmental)?


This workshop connects to topics of socio-ecological transformation for sustainability.

Open Think Tank 3.3.D: Integrating agricultural and tourism supply chains for boosting marginal Mountain areas

     TT Output      TT Presentations   

Moderators: Stefano Duglio (Chair), Giampiero Lombardi      

The need of integrating agriculture and tourism chains is based on the assumption that the economic activities in marginal mountain areas are characterized by fragmentation, small business size and lack of communication among tourism and food chain actors, local administrators and other stakeholders. This situation affects the competitiveness of both agricultural and tourism holdings, being the former unable to promote their high-quality products and find an appropriate placement on markets, and the latter unable to propose an offer tightly tied to territories.

This workshop aims at discussing, thanks to empirical evidences based on case studies, the opportunity and the possibility to integrate the two chains for boosting territorial development and promoting the natural and cultural heritage of local mountain communities.

The workshop aims at a deeper understanding of the following aspects:


Question 1: Is it really possible to integrate the agriculture and tourism mountain chains in marginal mountain areas?

Question 2: May this integration trigger innovation processes and products for supporting local community development?

Specific Topic 3.4: Actors and institutions for sustainable Mountain development

Open Think Tank 3.4.A: Towards a Mountain Resilience Report: Regenerating mountain systems by Systemic Innovation

    TT Output

Moderators: Tobias Luthe (Chair), Romano Wyss, Adrienne Grêt-Regamey    

In times of climate change and disruptive social and economic change, resilience of mountain social-ecological systems (SES) comprises the flexibility to respond to changes (adaptive capacity) and the diversity to prepare for changes (innovative capacity). From a spatial, landscape perspective, resilient SES absorb and reorganize in response to (climate) change to maintain the provision of ecosystem services. This workshop intends to set the methodological and collaborative base for a proposed “Mountain Resilience Report” (MRR) that assesses both adaptive and innovative capacities of mountain social-ecological systems (SES) - analogue to the Arctic Resilience Report (ARR) of the Arctic Council. The goal is to collect existing knowledge and build new capacity on assessing the “dynamic state” of mountain SES resilience to interconnected environmental changes – including ecosystem services generating landscapes, socio-cultural communities, local economies and socio-technical systems (STS). The proposed MRR should be developed in close cooperation with existing data collection and sharing networks, such as Mountain Sentinels, Mountain Research Initiative, Sustainable Mountain Tourism Alliance, and alike.

The specific resilience focus in this workshop is on understanding and incubating innovative capacity to create (“design”) and implement effective, real-world solutions for building regenerative mountain SES and STS, respectively – and how this innovative capacity relates to and builds upon resilient landscapes and land use. Innovation within complex SES and STS is systemic and should be regenerative by design – generating systems that contribute net-positive to their surrounding socio-cultural-economic and ecological (ecosystem services generating landscapes) environment.

As one point of departure, a proposed MRR could be connected with the ongoing effort to create a network of mountain observatories for social-ecological data collection (GNOMO). Real-World Laboratories (RWL) play an important role in experimenting with and illustrating systemic innovation, spanning across all economic sectors, related to local cultural and geographic differences, and being participative for local stakeholders. GNOMO and RWL could be integrated units to complement existing (spatial) datasets, and to create “living” modules where the effects of systemic innovation in regards with resilience can be illustrated, explored, and evaluated.

Invited participants contribute with flash talks specific to the below stated questions. Smaller groups engage in design thinking and report back to the entire group about their proposed design of the MRR. The stated questions will be summed up and put into perspective, applying system mapping techniques. Final steps will lead to a basic work plan with a time frame and responsibilities.

Intended workshop outcomes are 1. Setting the personal and knowledge base for writing a joint review paper on the state of assessment and implementation of resilience in mountain SES and their innovativeness, intended for MRI Mountain Research and Development Journal; 2. With this paper, setting the base for writing a joint research funding proposal to develop a first Mountain Resilience Report.

Question 1: What methods, approaches and experiences can we share up to today to assess resilience of mountain SES/STS, and what can be learned from the Arctic Resilience Report?

Question 2: How can we specifically assess and monitor the “innovativeness” of mountain systems, i.e. their regenerative character? What are good practice examples?

Question 3: How can this assessment be linked to the GNOMO, RWL, Mountain Sentinels, and other approaches? What are geographic system boundaries, at least to start with? 

Workshop 3.4.B: Initiatives for inclusive local development in Mountain regions

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Moderators: Fernando Ruiz Peyré (Chair), Armin Kratzer, Valerià Paül    

Strategies for adaptation and transformation related to climate change in mountain areas should start looking for positive existent experiences. Several local initiatives of sustainable development in highlands exist and succeed all over the world. They are the result of long-term adaptation to the environment and of the cooperation of diverse actors (state and public institutions, international organizations, private companies, organised civil society and individuals). The reasons for success or failure can be different in each case and depend on different factors: governance structures, balance between actors and interests as well as relations between the area of reach (and scale) and the actions implemented, etc. According to their environmental and social goals, highland societies currently prefer to invest in sustainable and complex models, adapted to their own local context, shared and co-built at local scale, integrating the diverse available resources, including traditions and cultural heritage, giving priority to medium and long-term return, and with a clear monitoring system. In other words, innovation, inclusion and sharing are keywords already in use and practiced in highland societies. In this workshop, we invite existing initiatives to present their experience and good practice examples in order to promote exchanges among the participants.

Question 1: What can be learned from successful experiences and which aspects can be adapted to other contexts?

This workshop connects to themes of local development research, social inclusion and social adaptation to global change.

Workshop 3.4.C: Enhancing transformation of strategies for Mountain regions towards sustainable pathways

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Moderators: Thomas Dax (Chair), Thomas Streifeneder  

Over the last three decades mountain regions have been increasingly addressed as areas of both socio-economic development concern and spaces of particular human-nature pressure. An increased commitment for appropriate policy frameworks has been established particularly in European mountain ranges (e.g. Alpine Convention and Carpathian Convention) but extends also to non-European contexts (like ICIMOD in the Himalaya, the ANDEAN initiative and the evolving Caucasus network). The tremendous challenges, largely aggravated through on-going socio-economic changes and impacts of climate change, put a severe pressure on the future development of these regions and strategy building in these areas. Increased policy focus on supporting regional mountain development through specific programmes and consideration for foresight studies (e.g. ESPON Alps2050-project) underpins the momentum for trans-regional and trans-national cooperation in mountain development strategy approaches.

This workshop builds on recent policy initiatives and studies analyzing the institutional framework and procedural developments to take account of societal needs and to address the altered policy objectives aiming at sustainable pathways within current situation of climate change requirements. The potential transfer of good practice examples and lessons from recent analysis of programmes’ implementation in various mountain contexts should provide an interesting base for discussion of participants between mountain regions of different parts of the world. This should include analysis of the aspects of transfer of policy implementation aspects between different cultures.

Question 1: What can be learned from different mountain ranges for the implementation of comprehensive integrated policy approaches and how can dialogue between researchers, local people and stakeholders, and politicians be enhanced?

Question 2: How can transfer of useful policy approaches between different mountain ranges be promoted, lessons for transformation be shared and how can pitfalls of “transfer” schemes be avoided?


This workshop connects to themes of multi-level governance, institutional cooperation, social innovation and adaptation to sustainable development goals.

Workshop 3.4.F: Education for Sustainable Mountain Development

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Moderators: Kenichi Ueno  (Chair), Martin Price  

Over the next decades, mountain regions and its societies will experience dramatic biophysical and socioeconomic transformations as a consequence of global changes; some of these will manifest very rapidly, others more slowly. Education and training for local people and young scientists play a crucial role in fostering understanding of these complex processes, and in developing and transferring competences for contributing to effective adaptation and transformation strategies. Teaching and learning about mountains involves challenges including the definition of the study object, learning outcomes, and teaching approaches; the range of disciplines to be involved; institutional positioning vis-à-vis existing programs, departments, and faculties; and the need and availability of financial resources. The objective of this workshop is to share and exchange international experiences, invite conceptual reflections on education with unique curricula for sustainable mountain development, and explore opportunities for future exchange.

Question 1: What are concrete opportunities and challenges in teaching and learning about mountains and sustainable mountain development?

Question 2: What experiences from the development and organization of SMD education programs can be generalized beyond their specific contexts? What coordination mechanisms exist or could be developed?

Question 3: How can outputs and knowledge from SMD practice be incorporated into SMD curricula and leaning opportunities?

Open Think Tank 3.4.G: Scientific support for the coherent monitoring and implementation of Post-2015 UN Frameworks in global Mountain regions

    TT Output      TT Presentations

Moderators:  Jörg Szarzynski (Chair), Stefan Schneiderbauer, Carolina Adler, Susanne Wymann von Dach  

Mountain populations are exposed to sudden onset hazards (e.g. debris flows and landslides) as well as slow onset stresses (e.g. water scarcity / droughts) and only a coordinated effort to address disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA), and sustainable mountain development can sustain the livelihoods of mountain people, while conserving mountain ecosystems and their services for communities in mountains and in adjacent lowlands.

The United Nations system has addressed the aspects of DRR (Sendai Framework), CCA (Paris Agreement) and well-being / development (Sustainable Development Goals) in separate post-2015 Frameworks. However, mountain regions are most often neither explicitly considered in the attempts to implement these agreements nor in providing guidance to adequately monitor and report on them.

This workshop addresses the role, the potential as well as challenges for academia to support a coherent monitoring and implementation of post-2015 UN frameworks in mountains at various levels. A focus will be on evidence-based reporting and on developing custom indicators to better account for and represent mountain specificities. Discussions will consider shared experiences of the participants and lead to identifying existing gaps and possible future actions towards a coherent implementation and monitoring of Post-2015 UN Frameworks in global mountain regions.

Question 1: What are good research practices, or scientific quality criteria, relevant to mountain regions that link disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and sustainable development to Post-2015 UN Frameworks?

Question 2: What scientific approaches and data allow mountain-specific evidence-based monitoring, for instance by the development of tailor-made Custom Indicators, and the reporting of progress towards a coherent implementation of UN Frameworks?


OTHER TOPICS - open for Specific Research Poster not directly related to a workshop

    WS Posters


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