About this Research Topic
The Andes Cordillera forms a continuous high elevation range along the western margin of South America and constitutes a fundamental component in the environmental, cultural and socio-economic fabric of the continent. Over its ca. 7000 km-long extent, this mountain range hosts an immense variety of climates and biomes and provides natural resources and ecosystem services to a population of about 100 million people in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
Over the past decades, various ecological, glaciological and hydrological assessments have identified noticeable changes in vegetation dynamics, glacier cover and water availability in different sectors of the Andes. Although these findings can be at least partially associated with the occurrence of warmer and/or drier conditions across the Andes, additional, more detailed climatological assessments are needed to improve understanding of the complex patterns of climate change that have occurred in recent decades across this extensive mountain range. Given the predominant role of the Andean climate system on many socio-economic activities and on the most important hydrological and ecological processes in this region, further detailed studies are also needed to identify the most likely future climate scenarios for high elevation areas at different latitudes in the Andes.
This special issue aims to compile a series of up-to-date studies on the observed and predicted climate changes in the Andes. The observation-based studies will target the past 100-150 years (i.e. not a paleo perspective but a truly observational overview) and ideally, they will be based on analyses of direct hydro-climatic observations from high elevation Andean sites. However, given the scarcity of climate observations at high elevations in this region, modeling exercises at the highest possible spatial resolution are also encouraged. The studies focused on modeling the future climate scenarios in the region will also target high elevation areas in the Andes and ideally, they will address the climate changes predicted for the next 10-50 years. Nonetheless studies on the more distant future (e.g. next 100 years) are also welcome. Overall, this issue will provide an authoritative overview of the latest findings on climate change research focused on the Andes. The results have numerous applications at multiple levels, including their use in policy decisions for local and regional development strategies, management and conservation of natural resources, dissemination to the public in general, and the promotion of further related scientific research in this vast and diverse mountainous region.
Keywords: South America, high elevation, climate observations, climate projections, climate modeling
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