Mountains are providing the livelihood for many people. They provide important resources, such as water, wood and grasslands for livestock. Mountains also provide a recreational landscape which is used by many tourists around the world. However, globally the negative impacts of global change on mountain freshwater ecosystems and their biota are expected to greatly outweigh potential benefits. Mountain ecosystems and the services they provide to society face multiple threats arising from global change and its interactions with socio-cultural, economic and political developments. In particular, high-altitude mountain freshwater ecosystems have been, and will continue to be, severely impacted by global change, threatening the livelihood of more than 50% of the human population. Climate and global change will favour chemical pollution in mountain freshwater ecosystems through meteorological processes working over long-distances and carrying pollutants from lowlands to high altitudes. Climate change may further destabilize ecosystems through extreme events, allowing human and wildlife pathogens to proliferate, increasing risks for human diseases. A serious reduction in the availability of clean water will be the result.
The GloMEC team will produce indicators of change to inform the policy arena and decision making on the impact on human well-being, to advance international research in functional ecology and our understanding of future risks.