Secretariat

GEO Mountains Co-Lead
Mountain Research Initiative

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About

Carolina Adler, a dual national from Chile and Australia, is an Environmental Scientist and Geographer by background, with an international career spanning over 20 years in both research and practice in the public and private sectors. As the current Executive Director of the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), she is tasked with overseeing the work of the MRI Coordination Office, as well as connecting, coordinating, and promoting global change research agendas and supporting regional and thematic networked collaborations in mountains worldwide. She is one of the Co-Leads of GEO Mountains. 

Carolina obtained her PhD at Monash University (Australia) in 2010, focusing on climate change adaptation and relevant policy processes for sustainable development in mountain regions, receiving the Harold D Lasswell Prize in 2010 for best thesis. Over the years, she has actively engaged with and contributed to numerous international networks and programs, such as the Society of Policy Scientists, the International Social Sciences Council and International Council for Science, now merged to form the International Science Council, as well as Future Earth through core projects such as the Earth Systems Governance Project. She was Lead Author for the 'High Mountains' chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) (2019), as well as Lead Author of the IPCC Working Group II on Impacts, Vulnerability, and Adaptation and Co-Lead for the Cross-Chapter Paper 'Mountains' in the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) (2022). Following a passion for mountaineering, she shares her environmental expertise as delegate to the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (Union International des Associations d'Alpinisme - UIAA) Mountain Protection Commission. When not at her work desk, Carolina is most likely to be found enjoying the great outdoors in the mountains.

Research Interests

Keywords: Social-Ecological Systems, Climate Change; Governance; Risk & Decision-Making; Evidence; Science-Policy Interface; Global Assessments; Monitoring & Evaluation; Transdisciplinary Research; Mountains.

Carolina Adler focuses on research activities related to the assessment and evaluation of inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations on questions related to sustainable development in mountains, as well as the use of scientific evidence in regional and global assessment efforts and uptake in policy and decision-making contexts.

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GEO Mountains Co-Lead
University of Turin & CNR

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About

Elisa Palazzi received her Laurea degree in Physics in 2003 and her PhD in Atmospheric Physics with a focus on Physical Modelling for Environmental Protection in 2008, both from the University of Bologna.

She is Professor at the University of Turin, where she has been teaching Physics of Climate since 2013, and also has affiliation with the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the Italian National Research Council (CNR-ISAC). 

As well as being one of the GEO Mountains Co-Leads, Elisa is co-coordinator of the Collaborative Programme 'Changes in the Hydrological Cycle' of the European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA), and is the reference person for Italy for the Collaborative Research Action 'Mountains as Sentinels of Change' of the Belmont Forum.

She has significant experience in science popularization addressed to students and to the general public through laboratory activities, seminars, and public conferences. She is co-author of an Italian book for children on climate and climate change entitled 'Perchè la Terra ha la Febbre?' ('Why Does the Earth Have a Fever?'), published in 2019.

Research Interests

Keywords: Mountain ecosystems, climate change, EDW, climate extremes, climate models, uncertainties, downscaling

Elisa works on the study of the climate system and Earth-System processes, with a special focus on the current and future evolution of the water cycle in mountain regions, in particular in the Italian Alps and in the Karakoram-Himalayas in Asia. Her research interests include the study of precipitation, snow, water resources and of elevation-dependent warming. The main objective of her studies is to understand how the mountain ecosystems might change under different climate change scenarios and what the consequences for downstream societies could be. Her activities are performed in collaboration with hydrological, impact, and assessment modellers, and within several national and international initiatives, including EU projects under the H2020 programme.

GEO Mountains Scientific Project Officer
Mountain Research Initiative

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James joined the Mountain Research Initiative in 2020 upon completion of his PhD in hydrogeology at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. His doctoral research focussed on the interdisciplinary, physics-based numerical modelling of hydrological processes in complex Alpine terrain, and involved a wide range of datasets and computational tools. He was awarded the Adrien Guébhard-Séverine prize for his thesis. 

Prior to that, James worked in the reinsurance sector, where he was responsible for leading the development of stochastic natural catastrophe models in order to quantify the risks associated with extreme events such as floods and tropical cyclones to portfolios of physical assets.

James is currently responsible for the coordination and implementation of GEO Mountains; a Initiative of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) seeking to increase the availability and accessibility of a wide range of data pertaining to mountainous regions to benefit human societies and ecosystems globally. He contributed to the IPCC Cross-Chapter Paper 'Mountains' (2022), is member of the Editorial Board of the journal Earth System Science Data, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. 

Research Focus

Keywords: Alpine hydrology; climate change; numerical modelling; 3D geological modelling; snow hydrology; inverse methods

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GEO Mountains Scientific Project Officer
Mountain Research Initiative

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Alexandrine Massot joined the Mountain Research Initiative Coordination Office in 2023, after completing a Master in Environmental Sciences and a certificate in Geomatics at the University of Geneva. During her studies, her research primarily focused on exploring the dynamics of carbon dioxide and methane emissions from lakes and investigating gas emissions in the Arctic Ocean. She then continued her learning around a temporal analysis of drought dynamics in Switzerland using remote sensing. Before this, she worked in the philanthropic sector as a project manager, where she was responsible for the environment & sustainability working group, among others.

As a Scientific Project Officer, Alexandrine contributes to the coordination and implementation of GEO Mountains — a GEO initiative, which aims to enhance the availability and accessibility of diverse data related to mountainous regions. 

Aside from her scientific pursuits, her passion for nature is reflected in her artistic work. Between her painting studio and her practice of aerial sports and climbing, she often finds inspiration while hiking in the mountains.

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GEO Mountains Communications Manager
Mountain Research Initiative

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Heather Turnbach is a mission-driven storyteller with an international marketing communications career spanning over 10 years. In 2022 she joined MRI’s Coordination Office as its Communications Manager where she is responsible for implementing and enhancing the network’s communication strategy.

Heather began her career as a management consulting analyst in Philadelphia. Since moving to Switzerland, she has held several marketing communications roles, primarily within the international education field. She’s enjoyed rebranding two organizations, creating compelling communications campaigns, and sharing stories with impact. Most recently Heather stretched her entrepreneurial muscle by founding the OutFit Women's Movement, a project that aims to help women realize their own self-powered possibilities in the outdoors.

Heather holds an Executive Master’s in Food and Health from the University of Gastronomic Sciences (Italy) and Bachelor of Arts in both Media and Communications Studies and Business and Economics from Ursinus College (USA). In her free time, Heather can be found pursing her passion as an all-seasons endurance athlete either trail running or skiing in the mountains.

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