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Glacial Flooding & Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Exchange and Field Training July 11-24, 2013 in Huaraz, Peru Climate  Change,  People,  and  Mountains   Kenneth  R.  Young   Department  of  Geography  and  the  Environment   University  of  Texas  at  Austin   Mountains  create  both  opportunities  in  terms  of  natural  resources  and  ecosystem   services,  and  also  risks  given  geomorphic  instability  and  a  high  susceptibility  to  climate   change  consequences.  Thus,  the  processes  that  connect  people  to  mountains  need  to  be   understood  in  terms  of  their  couplings,  feedbacks,  interactions,  and  responses  to  global   change.  While  risks  posed  by  changes  in  high  mountains  can  be  dealt  with  through   education,  outreach,  and  engineering  interventions,  better  for  a  more  complete   understanding  would  be  to  evaluate  the  coupled  natural-­‐human  systems  involved  in  a  way   that  permits  comparisons  among  the  different  highland  regions  of  the  world.   The  land  covers  of  mountains  include  glaciers,  water  bodies,  natural  vegetation   types,  and  also  crops,  pastures,  orchards,  tree  plantings,  and  settlements.  Change  in  these   respective  land  covers  through  time  may  suggest,  for  example,  increasing  temperatures  if   glaciers  are  shrinking  and  glacial  lakes  expanding.  In  turn,  changes  in  land  cover  associated   with  the  livelihoods  of  rural  people  or  the  expansion  of  towns  and  cities,  serve  to  indicate  a   set  of  social  and  economic  processes  associated  with  demographic  shifts,  and  with  local   and  regional  development.     Relatively  new  research  approaches  that  explicitly  link  biophysical  and  socio-­‐ economic  processes  are  now  available.  They  can  be  valuable  for  documenting,  evaluating,   and  modelling  landscape  changes  arising  from  the  interactions  of  natural  with  cultural   realms.  These  are  coupled  natural-­‐human  systems  research  paradigms.  They,  provide  a   framework  for  interdisciplinary  research  drawing  on  human  resources  and  methodologies   from  the  geosciences,  the  biological  sciences,  engineering,  the  social  sciences,  and  the   humanities.   As  an  example,  Bury  et  al.  (2013;  New  Geographies  of  Water  and  Climate  Change  in   Peru:  Coupled  Natural  and  Social  Transformations  in  the  Santa  River  Watershed;  Annals  of   the  Association  of  American  Geographers  103:  363-­‐375)  report  on  the  findings  of  a  project   funded  by  the  U.S.  National  Science  Foundation  program  entitled  “Dynamics  of  coupled   natural-­‐human  systems”.  They  were  able  to  use  ice  coverage  and  stream  discharge  data  to   project  consequences  for  water  availability  in  Peru’s  Santa  River  Basin.  The  highest   elevations  of  this  basin  include  the  hundreds  of  glaciers  of  the  Cordillera  Blanca,  which   have  receded  some  25%  in  the  last  several  decades.  The  glaciers  are  inside  the  boundaries   of  Huascaran  National  Park,  giving  them  conservation,  recreation,  and  touristic  values.  The  

Kenneth Young: Climate change, people, and mountains

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