Elevation-dependent warming in mountain regions of the world

TitleElevation-dependent warming in mountain regions of the world
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPepin, N., Bradley Raymond S., Diaz Henry F., Baraer M., Caceres E. B., Forsythe N., Fowler H., Greenwood G., Hashmi M. Z., Liu X. D., Miller J. R., Ning Liang, Ohmura A., Palazzi E., Rangwala I., Schöner W., Severskiy I., Shahgedanova M., Wang M. B., Williamson S. N., and Yang Daqing
JournalNature Climate Change
Pagination424 - 430
Date Published4/2015
Keywordsalbedo, biodiversity, cryosphere, global warming, latent heat flux, mountain environment, numerical model, observational method, Remote sensing, satellite imagery, temperature effect, water vapor

There is growing evidence that the rate of warming is amplified with elevation, such that high-mountain environments experience more rapid changes in temperature than environments at lower elevations. Elevation-dependent warming (EDW) can accelerate the rate of change in mountain ecosystems, cryospheric systems, hydrological regimes and biodiversity. Here we review important mechanisms that contribute towards EDW: snow albedo and surface-based feedbacks; water vapour changes and latent heat release; surface water vapour and radiative flux changes; surface heat loss and temperature change; and aerosols. All lead to enhanced warming with elevation (or at a critical elevation), and it is believed that combinations of these mechanisms may account for contrasting regional patterns of EDW. We discuss future needs to increase knowledge of mountain temperature trends and their controlling mechanisms through improved observations, satellite-based remote sensing and model simulations.