This GEO Mountains workshop sought to better understand the current interdisciplinary 'data landscape' across the Andes region.  

On 12 October, GEO Mountains hosted a workshop on Inter- and Transdisciplinary Mountain Data across the Andes: Identifying User Requirements and Access Preferences, as part of the Adaptation at Altitude global mountain programme.

Jointly convened by the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), GEO Mountains, and CONDESAN , the workshop sought to better understand the current interdisciplinary ‘data landscape’ across the Andes region.  

Carolina Tovar, a collaborator working on Adaptation at Altitude, presented progress toward generating a set of environmental and social indicators at a continental scale in the Andes. Simply delineating the extent of the Andes was identified as an initial challenge. Carolina then proposed a set of meaningful indicators to monitor for changes in biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human wellbeing. 

Carmen Ponce (Group for the Analysis of Development) focused on sub-national socio-economic and demographic datasets that are available online, highlighting issues of data comparability. It was suggested that a lack of systematic data hinders understanding governance at local and regional levels. In the Andes, socio-environmental researchers need more information about internal migration and urban-rural linkages between mountains and lowlands. 

Julieta Carilla (Universidad Nacional de Tucumán) then shared her team’s complementary efforts to generate a research agenda for socio-environmental monitoring in the Andes. An analysis of published research found that socio-environmental monitoring is concentrated in the central and northern Andes and lacking in the southern Andes. Biophysical research themes predominate, while socio-economic monitoring studies are greatly underrepresented. 

Albert DeGarmo represented AmeriGEO, the regional arm of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in the Americas. While focused on the Western Hemisphere and the 21 member states of the Americas Caucus, AmeriGEO collaborates with Earth Observation (EO) agencies around the world. In addition to serving as a broker between data providers and data users, AmeriGEO develops capacity through virtual and in-person training. Much of this training is available through the Inter-American Academy of Geosciences & Applications.  

GEO Mountains Scientific Project Officer James Thornton demonstrated the capabilities of, and future plans for, the GEO Mountains data inventories. Workshop participants then discussed mountain data user requirements, regional data providers, regional differences in data coverage, and major gaps in terms of data discoverability, accessibility, and usability. Emergent themes included the bias toward biological and ecological monitoring; the lack of socioeconomic data; and the need to integrate institutional, academic, and community data, particularly traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) from Andean indigenous communities. Combining qualitative data like survey results and case studies with quantitative data would also increase regional data coverage. 

Participants noted that the Andean region needs more open and widely available data (not just metadata) and increased data sharing among researchers, institutions, and policymakers. Given the Andes’ remoteness and high elevations, gaining access to and maintaining equipment for long-term monitoring is costly and requires more sustainable funding mechanisms. Another important need is to standardize equipment, measurement protocols, and data reporting to make comparisons among the different areas of the Andes. Since the concept of Essential Mountain Climate Variables (EMCVs) could help with these standardization efforts, participants were invited to complete GEO Mountains’ EMCVs survey

In the spirit of sharing information, participants were also invited to complete GEO Mountains' regional data needs survey, the results of which will be shared with the Andes mountain research community in the future. We would like to extend the invitation to complete the survey to all other stakeholders in the Andes. 

As discussed at the workshop, the GEO Mountains Inventory of In Situ Observational Infrastructure has recently been released; community members with knowledge of Andean sites and datasets, both in the region 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

Read the workshop report here. Please note that the workshop report will be expanded to include the survey results once they are collated and analysed. 

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

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

Image by Angelo Villalobos.

supported by

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