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North Central CSC Climate Researcher Urges Temperature Monitoring at High Evelations

While climate change occurs at a global scale, impacts and drivers of change occur at smaller regional scales. According to a recently released study titled “Elevation-dependent warming in Mountain Regions of the World” there is growing evidence that high mountains regions are warming faster than lower elevations” but the lack of recorded data above 11,000 feet could hold scientists back from fully understanding associated causes and impacts.

Imtiaz Rangwala, a research scientist with NOAA's Earth Systems Research Lab and co-lead of the Climate Driver’s team at the North Central Climate Science Center, was part of the Mountain Research Initiative EDW Working Group, made up of scientists from around the world. Together, they put out an urgent call for rigorous monitoring of temperature patterns in mountain environments in the newest edition of Nature Climate Change. Warmer temperatures at high elevations could have detrimental impacts on things such as vegetation change and glacial melt, issues of particular importance in the north central region and throughout the world.

Despite this, however, there are few observatory stations above 11,000 feet to measure changing climatic conditions, and those that exist show worrying trends. Stations on the Tibetan Plateau show that temperatures over the past 20 years have increased almost 75% faster above 13,000 feet that they have below 6,500. More data in these high elevation regions could help scientists gain a better understanding of what this warming means in terms of mountain ecosystems and human impacts.

For more information on the work of the climate drivers team at the NC CSC, please visit our foundational building blocks page