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Scientific knowledge and knowledge needs in climate adaptation policy: a case study of diverse mountain regions


Muccione, Veruska; Salzmann, Nadine; Huggel, Christian (2016). Scientific knowledge and knowledge needs in climate adaptation policy: a case study of diverse mountain regions. Mountain Research and Development, 36(3):364-375.

Abstract

Mountain ecosystems around the world are recognized to be among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The need to develop sound adaptation strategies in these areas is growing. Knowledge from the natural sciences has an important role to play in the development of adaptation strategies. However, the extent of and gaps in such knowledge have not been systematically investigated for mountain areas. This paper analyzes the status of knowledge from natural science disciplines and research needs relevant to the national and subnational climate adaptation policies of 1 US state (Washington) and 7 countries (Austria, Bhutan, Colombia, Germany, Nepal, Peru, and Switzerland), in particular the elements of those policies focused on mountain areas. In addition, we asked key individuals involved in drafting those policies to answer a short questionnaire. We found that research needs mainly concern impact and vulnerability assessments at regional and local levels, integrated assessments, and improved climate and socioeconomic data. These needs are often related to the challenges to data coverage and model performance in mountainous areas. In these areas, the base data are often riddled with gaps and uncertainties, making it particularly difficult to formulate adaptation strategies. In countries where data coverage is less of an issue, there is a tendency to explore quantitative forms of impact and vulnerability assessments. We highlight how the knowledge embedded in natural science disciplines is not always useful to address complex vulnerabilities in coupled human and natural systems and briefly refer to alternative pathways to adaptation in the form of no-regret, flexible, and adaptive management solutions. Finally, in recognition of the trans- and interdisciplinary nature of climate change adaptation, we raise the question of which knowledge production paradigms are best able to deliver sustainable adaptations to growing environmental stressors in mountain regions.

Abstract

Mountain ecosystems around the world are recognized to be among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The need to develop sound adaptation strategies in these areas is growing. Knowledge from the natural sciences has an important role to play in the development of adaptation strategies. However, the extent of and gaps in such knowledge have not been systematically investigated for mountain areas. This paper analyzes the status of knowledge from natural science disciplines and research needs relevant to the national and subnational climate adaptation policies of 1 US state (Washington) and 7 countries (Austria, Bhutan, Colombia, Germany, Nepal, Peru, and Switzerland), in particular the elements of those policies focused on mountain areas. In addition, we asked key individuals involved in drafting those policies to answer a short questionnaire. We found that research needs mainly concern impact and vulnerability assessments at regional and local levels, integrated assessments, and improved climate and socioeconomic data. These needs are often related to the challenges to data coverage and model performance in mountainous areas. In these areas, the base data are often riddled with gaps and uncertainties, making it particularly difficult to formulate adaptation strategies. In countries where data coverage is less of an issue, there is a tendency to explore quantitative forms of impact and vulnerability assessments. We highlight how the knowledge embedded in natural science disciplines is not always useful to address complex vulnerabilities in coupled human and natural systems and briefly refer to alternative pathways to adaptation in the form of no-regret, flexible, and adaptive management solutions. Finally, in recognition of the trans- and interdisciplinary nature of climate change adaptation, we raise the question of which knowledge production paradigms are best able to deliver sustainable adaptations to growing environmental stressors in mountain regions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:08 Dec 2016 07:53
Last Modified:08 Dec 2016 07:53
Publisher:International Mountain Society
ISSN:0276-4741
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-15-00016.1

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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