Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Biodiversity (CLIMB) | France, Italy and Switzerland

Mont-Blanc has become a symbol of climate change, as the glaciers retreat and mountain environments change due to warming temperatures. CREA Mont-Blanc has been running an environmental monitoring program, Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Biodiversity (CLIMB), for the past 10 years, and has now partnered with Orange to design an ICT solution that improves an outdated and laborious method of data collection and retrieval. An innovative Biodiversity and Climate Change Observatory of the Mont-Blanc has been constructed, which has automated the monitoring of temperatures, snow patterns, and behaviors of the fauna and flora in the Mont-Blanc area.

This ICT solution informs land-use strategies, with on-line results being made accessible to decision-makers, scientists, citizens, and visitors, helping those involved in decision- and policy-making to make better-informed decisions.

Key facts

  • The observatory has:
  1. A public interface to enter and validate citizen science observation data, which has had close to 300 data entries in the first summer season;
  2. A large database encompassing all monitoring protocols.
  • 60 tailor-made stations can transmit temperature automatically every 15 minutes in mountain conditions;
  • Regular meetings are scheduled and pedagogical reports and web content are shared with decision-makers and citizens.

The problem

Mountain ecosystems are particularly sensitive to the impacts of climate change and are being affected at a faster rate than other terrestrial habitats. Forty percent of the world’s population rely indirectly on mountain resources for drinking water, agriculture, biodiversity, and hydroelectricity, which could be lost as a result of global warming. Climate change is also likely to increase exposure to hazards, with extreme events such as avalanches and landslides becoming more common.

The mountains are home to a high degree of biodiversity, including many endemic species. Adaptation requires awareness, knowledge on which to base decisions, and for mountain regions, a better perception of how biodiversity and climate change are linked in terms of impacts and in terms of adaptation solutions.

The mountains are home to a high degree of biodiversity, including many endemic species. Adaptation requires awareness, knowledge on which to base decisions, and for mountain regions, a better perception of how biodiversity and climate change are linked in terms of impacts and in terms of adaptation solutions.

Mont-Blanc is a densely-populated area, representative of many mountain valleys, with challenges of adapting tourism strategies (ski and nature tourism) and natural risks management.


The solution

The Biodiversity and Climate Change Observatory is an ICT solution that has automatic sensors that work around the clock in places that are hard for scientists to access. These sensors automatically transmit data and some of them have a self-sustaining energy supply. CLIMB brings climate and biodiversity data directly from the source that help in planning adaptation strategies to better project the evolution of the landscape over the short-, mid- and long-term period.

The observatory encompasses a scientific data collection system that involves citizens and researchers, automatic sensors, a forecasting model using the collected data to anticipate the future evolution of species and landscapes, and a system for sharing the raw data and the analyzed results.

Helping the planet

Providing decision-makers with the results of modeling future landscapes aids in their understanding of a long-term process such as climate change helps them to make informed adaptation strategies. Adaptation strategies are key to responding to climate impacts and implementing actions that will protect ecosystems, habitats, and prevent loss of biodiversity. Gathering scientists, decision-makers, citizens, and privates companies around a climate change and biodiversity Observatory at a local, mountain-range level, is critical to awareness and shared adaptation solutions.


Helping people

The ICT solution allows citizens to contribute to the monitoring of the Mont Blanc through CLIMB. Using the tool helps them understand the environment they live in and the impacts of climate change and to adopt adaptive strategies. For visitors, it offers a concrete vision of climate change, along with understanding the adaptation capabilities of the mountain fauna and flora and the role played by human activities in the evolution of mountain ecosystems.

The majority of livelihoods in the Chamonix Valley depend on tourism, and snow and natural landscapes are the cornerstones of this economy. The programme engages local volunteers to take part in the scientific process, which makes them a part of the solution in the fight against climate change.

This efficient ICT solution enables seamless operations, especially when working with other monitoring systems, and helps in sharing information with other scientific communities. It makes visualization of the data available for citizens, decision-makers and contributes to a better awareness about climate change. These tools also inform decision-makers crafting policies to be more precise in their adaption or mitigation efforts.


Spillover effect

There is scope for scalability in terms of the amount of data being collected. As the funding increases, additional automatic sensors will be installed. The CREA Mont-Blanc and Orange will try to extend the call for volunteers beyond Orange’s employees to visitors and local citizens. Since the Mont Blanc mountain range borders France, Italy, and Switzerland, CREA Mont-Blanc have partners that contribute to CLIMB. Currently, CREA Mont Blanc is concentrating on the dissemination of the data and participatory methodology in the Alps. As the data is built on the open source platform, this allows other interested institutions to develop a system that is adapted to their requirements. Any additions made by other partners will benefit all the users of CLIMB. CREA Mont-Blanc also works with institutions such as the French National Parks and Natural reserves and the National Center for Scientific research (CNRS-LECA) to share and disseminate the CLIMB approach.

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