GLOBAL OBSERVATION RESEARCH INITIATIVE IN ALPINE ENVIRONMENTS

The purpose of GLORIA

is to establish and maintain a world-wide long-term observation network in alpine environments. Vegetation and temperature data collected at the GLORIA sites will be used for discerning trends in species diversity and temperature. The data will be used to assess and predict losses in biodiversity and other threats to these fragile alpine ecosystems which are under accelerating climate change pressures.

Aims

  • A) The documentation of changes in biodiversity and vegetation patterns, caused by climate change in the world's high mountain ecosystems.

    GLORIA aims to collect high-quality baseline and monitoring data by using:

    1. a ground-based multi-site and long-term monitoring network, established at a world-wide level; and
    2. a network of sophisticated long-term research sites, the GLORIA Master Sites

    For (1), the method, the GLORIA Multi-Summit approach has been thoroughly tested and extensively applied across Europe.
    For (2), the network will build up a few sites per continent which will provide detailed data on key climatic and biotic variables which are not recorded in the multi-site network.
    At the Master Sites, the development of extensive monitoring methods and the use of experimental approaches is planned, using existing research infrastructures.

  • B) Assessments of the impacts of climate change-induced biodiversity and habitat losses and associated effects on ecosystem functioning. Reliable prognoses of temporal and spatial changes in biodiversity and habitat distribution require high quality field data.

    The initial standardised regional data sets (such that of GLORIA-Europe) will be used as a basis for addressing large-scale comparisons and models of potential climate change effects on alpine biodiversity. Data from continued future observations will provide an improved baseline for model projections of biodiversity losses and critical impacts on ecosystem functioning.

  • C) The contribution of GLORIA to international efforts to mitigate biodiversity and habitat losses This involves the integration of GLORIA into the wider scope of international efforts on global change research, by collaboration with related programmes and initiatives, the promotion of the information flow to non-expert potential users and by the effective enhancement of public awareness.

The GLORIA network - how it operates:

The network's contributors:

The strength of GLORIA is its simple approach which is to enable the establishment of a large number of sites within and across continents. The establishment and long-term maintenance of such a large-scale multi-site network requires a world-wide community of committed ecologists. It wholly depends on researchers who are willing to establish the foundations of a long-term programme which will yield results for future generations. The development of GLORIA is an ongoing process and individuals and institutions with an interest in ecological research in alpine environments are welcome to contribute (see the guidelines for establishing new target regions).

GLORIA site managers are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of sites (using the standardised GLORIA protocols). See the active GLORIA target regions and contact persons and a list of potential future contributors.

Property rights of data

Data are included into the central GLORIA database, where the data provider retains the exclusive ownership of the data. The use of a full dataset or of parts of it by interested parties (including the GLORIA Co- ordination office) requires the data provider's permission including issues about authorship of resulting publications.

The co-ordination of GLORIA is undertaken by the GLORIA Co-ordination Office at Vienna and includes the following:

  1. scientific co-ordination, supervision and support of field work and data analysis in co-operation with the GLORIA site managers and researchers;
  2. administration and technical communication with network members;
  3. maintenance and development of the central GLORIA database and communication structures; implementation and co-ordination of GLORIA-related research projects, such as the EU FP-5 project GLORIA-Europe;
  4. building and consolidating interfaces to other networks and programmes in the area of global change research, and to inter-governmental research bodies; and
  5. raising the level of public awareness of the ecological implications of climate change.

Co-operation:

An effective network must be integrated into international structures for global change research. GLORIA contributes to and/or co-operates with a number of national and international organisations, programmes and initiatives, to facilitate an interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge, to foster the translation of scientific findings into environmental policy, and to offer data-based explanations on the ecological implications to a growing audience of non-expert data-users and to the public.

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