CR prepress abstract  -  DOI:

Impact of climate change on land, water and ecosystem quality in polar and mountainous regions: gaps in our knowledge

Tim Stott, Gerd Dercon


ABSTRACT: Nowhere are the effects of climate change more visible than in polar and mountainous regions. To initiate the Interregional Technical Co-operation Project INT/5/153 (2014-18) on Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Land-Water-Ecosystem Quality in Polar and Mountainous Regions (funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency and supported by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture), we built a database containing 769 of the most significant journal papers on the effects of climate change in polar and mountainous regions between 2000-2014 (up until the Fifth IPCC Assessment). Using the number of paper citations per year (CPY) we derive the top fifty most cited journal papers published in the 15-year period. Analysis of the focus of these ‘top fifty’ papers is compared to the IPCC Fifth Assessment (AR5) Report (IPCC, 2013) and the full database. Five categories emerged, and by combining the number of papers in each category with the average CPY for the category, research on the impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems (E) in polar and mountainous regions dominated, research on the impact on water resources (W) was second, the impact on people’s livelihood (P) third, with ice and snow (I) fourth and landscape (L) fifth. Landscape (L), in our view, appears to be under researched and is presumably included in the IPCC Terrestrial Ecosystems category. We propose that policy makers should note this under-representation of high impact research into landscape processes (erosion and deposition processes), which needs to be addressed in future.