The workshop, held from the 25 to 27 June 2023 in Bern, Switzerland, aimed to refine the concept of the Uniform High-Elevation Observing Platform (UHOP) and discuss how the prospective network could help deliver an improved understanding of climate change across different elevation gradients and potentially also support other applications such as Early Warning Systems.

The UHOP concept, which has been developed over a period of time by the MRI’s Elevation-Dependent Climate Change (EDCC) Working Group, is one initiative that could help address the current severe lack of in situ climate observations at high elevations. In particular, UHOP intends to deliver data related to differential climate changes with elevation across the world’s mountains. The participants included experts in situ climate monitoring and infrastructure management with experience in most of the world’s major mountain regions. In total, 32 participants joined the discussion, from Switzerland, UK, Argentina, USA, Canada, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Slovakia, Panama, Colombia, Austria, Georgia, Zimbabwe, China, Chile, Cameroon and India. 

Discussions throughout the three days contributed to clarifying further the need for UHOP and which types of application it should be focused towards, and how the basic concept could be adapted according to the nature of individual elevational transects, the presence of existing infrastructure, and funding, for instance. Based on this, a three-tiered system (Gold, Silver, and Bronze), into which sites would be classified based on factors such as the types of monitoring infrastructure present, its spatial density, the number of variables measured, and whether or not the data are shared in real-time, emerged as an attractive option. Indicative costs of various possible configurations were assessed.

The participants also considered the extent to which spatial patterns beyond the 1D transect could be captured by UHOPs (including potentially via very low-cost sensors), and shared experiences on the various challenges that would have to be overcome to make the network a reality (e.g. obtaining substantial funding, ensuring station maintenance, bringing together different agencies conducting monitoring in the same region, ensuring some but not undue station redundancy, standardisation and exchange of data and metadata etc.)  

The workshop concluded with proposals for further collaboration and future hackathons to encourage data collection, analysis, and the development of protocols for in-situ and remote sensing data integration. In addition, it was noted that future versions of GEO Mountains In Situ Inventory should enable the identification of actual or prospective UHOP sites.

A public-facing draft “UHOP Protocol” document will be available soon and downloadable through our website.

Cover image by GEO Mountains.

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