Within the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, some of the most well-researched and already observable impacts of climate change are changes in seasonal stream-ﬂow patterns associated with earlier snowmelt and the reduction in snow accumulation, as evidenced by studies in the European Alps, Himalayas, and western North America (reviewed by Kundzewicz et al., 2007). In addition to stream-ﬂow responses to warming, alpine ecosystems are also highly vulnerable to warmer temperatures (Diaz et al., 2003). Many of these observed and projected ecosystem responses are linked to hydrologic processes, including changes in water availability and growing season length associated with earlier snowmelt and potential increased water stress associated with changes in atmospheric drivers of evapotranspiration (Barnett et al., 2005, Betts et al., 2007, Bales et al., 2006). There are a variety of science research initiatives directed towards improving the understanding and predictability of the responses of alpine systems to climate change. Organizations such as Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) (http://mri.scnatweb.ch/, Drexler, 2008) comprise global and regional networks of research. Within the USA, organizations such as Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains (CIRMOUNT) (Diaz et al., 2008) and projects including Western Mountain Research Initiative (WMI) (http://www.cfr. washington.edu/research.fme/wmi/, Baron et al., 2006) and the recently funded National Science Foundation (NSF) Sierra Critical Zone Observatory are designed to explicitly address climate change impacts in mountain environments. Most of these initiatives are linked to intensive ﬁeld monitoring sites. Thus, while the focus of these studies is often the assessment of climate change impacts, they are also clearly opportunities to advance hydrologic science in general.
Tague, C. (2009): Assessing climate change impacts on alpine stream-flow and vegetation water use: mining the linkages with subsurface hydrologic processes. Hydrological Processes, 23, 1815-1819.. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.7288