Discussing the future of U.S. western mountains, climate change, and ecosystems



Mountain regions are uniquely sensitive to changes in climate, and are especially vulnerable to climate effects acting on many biotic systems and the physical settings. Because mountain regions serve as sources of needed natural resources (e.g., water, forests) and as foundations for desired human activities (e.g., tourism, places to live), changes in mountain systems cascade into issues of regional and national concern. Mountains also comprise highly sensitive systems that may act as “canaries in the coal mine” to provide early signals of significant climate-driven changes in many of our valued resources.