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Warning signs in the alpine

Alpine Club of Canada to host mountain-focused climate change workshop in Banff



By Lynn Martel

When it comes to climate change in the high alpine, mountain climbers are in the position to experience the phenomenon of melting glaciers first hand.

With that unique perspective comes a unique responsibility, says Mike Mortimer, Alpine Club of Canada director of external relations.

In conjunction with the ACC’s 2006 Centennial celebrations, the club is hosting Canada’s first ever workshop on climate change focussed specifically on mountain regions.

Running Oct. 10 and 11 in Banff, the two-day workshop, titled Climate Change and its Affect on the Alpine, will examine the physical and recreational impacts of climate change in alpine environments worldwide, and seek out ways in which the international mountaineering community might respond to these changes.

The workshop is planned as one component of the general assembly of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA), happening in Banff Oct. 14. With 89 members, from Andorra to Chile, Israel to Malaysia, the Netherlands and the 700,000 strong German mountaineering association, 80 to 100 international delegates are expected to attend, including the presidents of at least 70 mountaineering organizations.

Taking place at the Banff Centre, workshop sessions include such topics as Climate Change Impacts on the World’s Mountains from a Global Perspective, the Implications of Global Change for Canadian Mountains, and the Role of the UIAA and its Member Organizations in Addressing Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Regions Globally.

Speakers include Dr. Shawn Marshall, University of Calgary Associate Professor in glaciology and climatology — whose presentation will include a field trip to Bow Lake and the Columbia Icefield — and Dr. David Sauchyn, chief scientist at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina, and member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As well, Dr. Henry Vaux, whose family launched the study of glaciers in the Selkirk Mountain of B.C.’s Glacier National Park over a century ago, will present an evening slide show.

As the UIAA’s first general assembly to include discussions on climate change, in addition to facilitating discussion and establishing protocols for minimizing human impact in mountain regions worldwide, Mortimer said he hoped the workshop would also serve to raise awareness among the general and mountaineering public.