The stakes are high. Changes in temperature and precipitation can affect many aspects of mountain environments, which in turn affect life downstream, from irrigation to food to hydropower to industry. So it’s vital to understand and plan for the ways that climate change may impact water resources, and that requires state-of-the-art knowledge and scientific models.
Many records indicate that the trend of rising temperatures is more significant in mountain regions than adjacent lowlands. Climate models also suggest that the future will bring greater temperature increase and more erratic precipitation. But local variation can be significant, and records are crucial. Climate station data are being used to understand the historic record and project changes, while hydrological models help to explain a range of water-related processes in a catchment area.
Policy makers and development planners can use these models and the information they provide to manage water resources, craft mitigation and adaptation strategies, and make informed decisions for the future.