The Forum Carpaticum 2021 Virtual Symposium took place online from 21-25 June. During the Symposium, GEO Mountains hosted a workshop on Inter- and Transdisciplinary Mountain Data in the Carpathians: Identifying User Requirements and Access Preferences.

Following an introduction from GEO Mountains co-lead Carolina Adler, the workshop was convened by Scientific Project Officer James Thornton. GEO Mountains is one of several partners responsible for implementing Adaptation at Altitude – a global programme funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

One of GEO Mountains' main objectives is identifying the needs of diverse users of data and information related to global mountain environments and, as far as possible, satisfying these needs by making relevant data freely discoverable, accessible, and usable. To do so, via a series of workshops and consultations in each of the major global mountain regions, we we are seeking to determine:

  1. Which organisations and institutions are major providers of relevant data in the region?
  2. Which disciplines / sub-regions currently benefit from satisfactory / good coverage and availability of data? 
  3. What are the major gaps or barriers currently experienced by data users in terms of discoverability, accessibility, and usability? and;
  4. What specific requirements data users may have of an inventory or portal though which mountain data is made searchable and downloadable?

The workshop at the Forum Carpaticum 2021 was therefore an opportunity to learn the views of relevant actors in the Carpathian region on such questions, to identify existing inventories and databases, and co-design possible next steps. It also provided an opportunity to build connections between GEO Mountains and stakeholders in the region, including  Science for the Carpathians (S4C) agenda. Given the scope of the Adaptation at Altitude programme, the workshop emphasised data related to climate change drivers, processes, impacts, and adaptation in the region. 

Invited speaker Dominik Kaim presented on behalf of Science for the Carpathians (S4) which, amongst other activities, already shares links to some data on biodiversity, climate, and land use in particular. He noted the importance of FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable), and the need to help practitioners find such useful data and metadata in the current "data deluge." Challenges unique to the Carpathian region include data gaps regarding animal movement and human activities, as well as the continuity of data across political boundaries. 

Our second invited speaker, Dana Micu from Meteo Romania, provided a perspective on climate data challenges in the Carpathian region for environmental applications. Dana stated that the regional network of weather stations would benefit from more dense coverage, particularly in higher-elevation areas. Observational data are not always freely available, while station data may have time series gaps, and reanalysis datasets may be too coarse for local applications. In general, the region's climate data currently lacks spatial and temporal resolution. 

After the invited presentations, workshop participants discussed the aforementioned questions. Emergent themes included the region's high ecological importance, as well as language and cost barriers to data access. Disciplinary data needs can sometimes conflict, and extreme event impacts and risks are difficult to assess. There is potential to exploit historical data, citizen science, and synthetic studies to improve data access. 

Finally, participants were invited to complete GEO Mountains' regional data needs survey, the results of which will be shared with the Carpathian mountain research community in the future. We would like to extend the invitation to complete the survey to all other stakeholders in the Carpathians. We have also recently released the GEO Mountains Inventory of In Situ Observational Infrastructure; members of the community both in the Carpathians and around the world can submit information to both this and the GEO Mountains General Inventory using the following links: 

Submit to GEO Mountains In Situ Inventory

Submit to GEO Mountains General Inventory

For any questions about the workshop, survey, or inventories, please contact


This workshop was the first in a series of regional consultations by GEO Mountains. Find more information about the next regional consultation, which will be focused on the Caucasus, here

Related Article: Science for the Carpathians and the Scientific Network for the Caucasus Mountain Region Sign Memorandum of Understanding

On the 24th of June, during the Forum Carpaticum 2021, Science for the Carpathians (S4C) and the Scientific Network for the Caucasus Mountain Region (SNC-mt) signed a memorandum of understanding. The aim of this new cooperation is to facilitate the exchange of information, experiences, and success stories between the two networks, as well as to develop, finance, and implement joint activities going forwards.

Cover image by Oleg Mityukhin.

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