International workshop in Göschenen, Switzerland, September 16–18, 2009 (by invitation only) on
Climate Change and Water Resources Management in Mountains
Sponsored by the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI)
Mountains are essential sources of freshwater for our world. On a global scale, they deliver disproportionately
high runoff and decrease the variability of lowland supply (Viviroli et al., 2007). These water resources are es-
sential for irrigation, hydropower production and drinking water supply. Runoff from mountains also poses risks
to society, especially in the form of floods and debris flows.
Global change will likely change the timing and amount of mountain runoff but our ability to predict these
changes today is limited by our understanding of both future climate and hydrologic response. These changes in
timing and amount will certainly challenge the management of water resources originating in mountains. Current
historically-based management regimes will likely be inadequate. New methods based on process understanding
and scenarios may be more appropriate, but may also fall outside the realm of water managers' experience and
hence be difficult to transfer to practice.
This workshop aims at two intertwined issues: the uncertainties related to, and therefore the research needed on,
mountain water supply and demand under global change, and the effective linkage of research results to water
management policies and practices. The workshop will address:
– The response of mountain catchments to climate change: What do we know about future changes in moun-
tain hydrology? How well can we predict the variables of importance to practitioners? What progress can we
expect from climate change research in characterizing future mountain climates and the responses of moun-
– The response of water management institutions to an altered future, with particular focus on water resources
management and planning: What information on societal demands is needed for effective management and
planning of water resources originating in mountains? What is relevant for daily practice in the realms of
water supply, hydropower generation and public safety? What are particular needs of regional policy-makers
and project managers?
These aspects will be approached with help of case studies from regions where water resources are under in-
creasing pressure due to increasing demand or decreasing supply or both. The comparison of the supply and the
demand side – particularly for aforementioned case-studies – will then lead to the question of whether global
change research provides the kind of information needed to answer the questions raised by water resources man-
agement and planning. Key research areas will be identified where initiatives are necessary in order to ensure
sustainable and equitable use of mountain water resources.
Viviroli D., Dürr H. H., Messerli B., Meybeck M., Weingartner R., 2007. Mountains of the world – water towers for humanity: typology,
mapping and global significance. Water Resources Research 43(7), W07447. doi:10.1029/2006WR005653.
Dr. Daniel Viviroli
Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research and
Hydrology Group, Institute of Geography, University of Bern
Hallerstrasse 12, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
T ++41 31 631 80 17, F ++41 31 631 85 11