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1 February 2006 Climate and Hydrology in Mountain Areas
Ellen Wohl
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Climate and Hydrology in Mountain Areas, edited by Carmen de Jong, David Collins, and Roberto Ranzi. Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 2005. xii + 315 pp. € 149. ISBN 0-470-85814-1.

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The characteristics of climate and hydrology in mountain areas remain poorly understood relative to lowland areas. High spatial and temporal variability in precipitation, runoff and subsurface flow processes, and stream flow, as well as sparse instrumentation networks and limited historical records of climate and hydrology, contribute to limited understanding of the distribution and movement of water in mountain environments. As the editors of this volume note, mountain regions play an extremely important role as “water towers” to the world, perturbing climatic circulation patterns and storing water for gradual release to adjacent lowlands. The papers collected in this book make an important contribution to advancing our understanding of climate and hydrology in mountain areas because they present pioneering work that, in many cases, represents the first application of existing measurement techniques to mountain regions. These applications demonstrate the utility and limitations of existing techniques in mountain areas, at the same time providing detailed information about the specific regions to which they are applied.

The volume is divided into 5 sections. Section 1, on snow and ice melt, includes “Use of positive degree-day methods for calculating snow and ice melting and discharge in glacierized basins in the Langtang Valley, central Nepal” by Rijan Kayastha and others; “Surface energy balance of high altitude glaciers in the central Andes: The effect of snow penitentes” by Javier Corripio and Ross Purves; “Using subgrid parameterization and a forest canopy climate model for improving forecasts of snowmelt runoff” by Ulrich Strasser and Pierre Etchevers; and “Assessment of snow-covered areas using air temperatures during melt in a mountainous basin” by Pratap Singh and Lars Bengtsson. Section 2, on soil water and permafrost, includes “Permafrost monitoring in high mountain areas using a coupled geophysical and meteorological approach” by Christian Hauck and others; “Effects of frozen soil on the groundwater recharge in alpine areas” by Daniel Bayard and Manfred Stähli; “Water balance in surface soil: Analytical solutions of flow equations and measurements in the Alpine Toce Valley” by Marilena Menziani and others; and “Saturated hydraulic conductivity and water retention relationships for alpine mountain soils” by Stefano Barontini and others. Section 3, on evapo-transpiration and water balance, includes “Water balance modeling with fuzzy parameterizations: Application to an alpine catchment” by Gerald Eder and others; “Water relations of an old-growth Douglas fir stand” by Timothy Link and others; “Comparison of evapotranspiration and condensation measurements between the Giant Mountains and the Alps” by Carmen de Jong and others; and “Climatologic and hydrologic coupling in the ecology of Norwegian high mountain catchments” by Jörg Löffler and Ole Rössler. Section 4, on coupling meteorology and hydrology, includes “Runoff and floods in the Alps: An overview” by Baldassare Bacchi and Vigilio Villi; “The use of coupled meteorological and hydrological models for flash flood simulation” by Charles Lin and others; “Operational weather radar assessment of convective precipitation as an input to flood modeling in mountainous basins” by Stefan Uhlenbrook and Doerthe Tetzlaff; and “Geomorphological zoning: An improvement to coupling alpine hydrology and meteorology?” by Carmen de Jong and others. Section 5, on climate change impact and mountain hydrology, includes “The influence of glacier retreat on water yield from high mountain areas: Comparison of Alps and central Asia” by Wilfried Hagg and Ludwig Braun; “Snowmelt under different temperature increase scenarios in the Swiss Alps” by Franziska Keller and Stéphane Goyette; and “Climate variability, water resources, and hydrologic extremes—modeling the water and energy budgets” by Osman Yildiz and Ana Barros.

Except for very short review papers on alpine climate change and cryospheric responses by Roger Barry and the paper on runoff and floods in the Alps by Bacchi and Villi, the papers present detailed case studies. Although each contribution includes an introductory section that provides a brief overview of the topic it discusses, it would have been nice to include more state-of-the-science review papers in this collection. The different aspects of climate and hydrology are well covered. The papers deal primarily with physical processes, with relatively little attention given to chemical or ecological interactions. Discussions of climate change generally do not include changes in land use in mountain environments. Taken together, the collection of papers provides a useful guide to (i) areas of active research and the state of knowledge of climate and hydrology in mountains, and (ii) geographic (eg very low and high latitudes, very high altitudes) and topical (eg effects of land use, ecohydrology) gaps in existing knowledge.

The volume is well produced. Although the papers do not include abstracts, each has an introductory and concluding discussion. The text is easy to read and grammatically correct, even though many of the authors do not have English as their first language. The book contains a series of color plates, along with numerous black and white figures. Even the latter are easy to interpret, although a few do include indistinguishable shadings of gray. The volume is enhanced by a comprehensive index and a list of symbols and abbreviations. Although the content of this volume does have some overlap with various IAHS publications, the papers in this book tend to be longer and more consistently written and edited. This volume should provide a useful guide to those interested in learning more about climate and hydrology in mountains, and a reference for those already working in the field.

Ellen Wohl "Climate and Hydrology in Mountain Areas," Mountain Research and Development 26(1), 88-89, (1 February 2006).[0088:CAHIMA]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 February 2006

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