Although climate change is a global problem, there is a growing recognition of the need to look at its regional manifestations and management. Views from the Alps takes such a regional approach to the Alpine region. The result of the ongoing Swiss research program Climate and Environment in the Alpine Region (CLEAR), it incorporates the work of an independent network of approximately fifty researchers from a variety of disciplines.
The Alpine region is the perfect focus for such a study because of the wealth of historical and contemporary data. The contributors avoid impractical "absolute" solutions to the problem of climate change. They explicitly recognize that climate policy involves not just environmental policy but also economic, agricultural, social, and urban policy. The science required for climate policy need not provide a single definitive answer to the problem of climate change. Rather, it can contribute a variety of insights, explanations, scenarios, and open questions to the public debate. The authors aim at a science for policy that helps to develop realistic options in an ongoing debate involving scientists as well as policymakers and ordinary citizens.Topics covered include past and current climate dynamics, scenarios for future climate development, the sensitivity of plant and soil ecosystems to climate change, scenarios for future ecosytem development, and creative policy responses to mobilize regional action for industrial innovation. The topics are addressed in the spirit of Integrated Assessment (IA), a method that combines scientific and social expertise to explore political and technical strategies for dealing with environmental problems such as climate change.
"An assessment of responses to global climate change is only meaningful within the context of local impacts and opportunities. This book is the fruit of a pioneering effort to bring together the critical social and natural science elements of such a study focused on the Alps. I see this book as compulsory reading for those trying to translate the IPCC's global assessments into concrete policy options at a regional scale."
– Hadi Dowlatabadi, Director, Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Department of Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Part 1 Introduction, Dieter M. Imboden
- global and regional weather and climate
- regional perspectives on global climate change
- the Alps as a key region for the study of global change
- an exploratory approach to global change
- the CLEAR process and science for policymakers
Part 2 Current alpine climate, Christoph Schar et al.
- alpine climatology - what are the geographical distribution and variability of the climatic elements?
- climate processes - what determines the alpine climate?
- further remarks
Part 3 Alpine paleoclimatology, Guy S. Lister et al.
- unfolding climate history in the alpine region
- current approaches and signposts to the future
Part 4 Future alpine climate, Dimitrios Gyalistras et al:
- the needs
- framework for scenario construction
- the techniques - description and critique
- some alpine scenarios
- summary and conclusion
Part 5 Sensitivity of plant and soil ecosystems of the Alps to climate change, Jean-Paul Theurillat et al.
- climate and vegetation
- the distribution of bryophytes and vascular plants in the Alps
- subalpine and alpine soils - general characteristics
- alpine vegetation - the driving factors
- the role of plant genetic diversity
- the response of the subalpine-alpine vegetation and soils to climate change - integrating ecosystem components across multiple spatial scales
Part 6 Vegetation responses to climate change in the Alps - modelling studies, Heike Lischke et al.
- the static aspect - modelling the potential habitat of alpine plants
- the dynamic approach -evaluating the fate of forests
Part 7 Innvoative social responses in the face of global climate change, Bernhard Truffer et al.
- innovation-oriented policies in the face of global climate risks
- the problem of transalpine freight traffic
- lightweight vehicles and the social construction of individual mobility
Part 8 Regional integrated assessment and the problem of indeterminacy, Claudia Pahl-Wostl et al.
- decision making, uncertainty in knowledge and indeterminate phenomena
- the best-guess strategy
- the probabilistic strategy
- the pluralistic strategy
- the coproduction of knowledge
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Carlo C. Jaeger is Head of the Social Systems Department at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).