Climate Change and Water in Mountains: A Global Concern

University of Geneva Water & Climate Change

Target Audience

Professionals and students who wish to go beyond basic notions of climate change and water management. Anyone who seeks to reinforce his or her knowledge in associated areas of climate change in mountain regions, such as adapation and risk management


Mountains are recognized as particularly sensitive physical environments where intense and rapid changes have in the past, and may increasingly in the future, place pressure on their resource base.

In this context, a team of roughly 100 experts worked from 2008 to 2013 for the European ACQWA project ( which was coordinated by the University of Geneva. The primary objectives of the project were to assess the impacts of a changing climate on the quantity and quality of water originating in mountain regions, particularly where snow- and ice melt represent a large, sometimes the largest, streamflow component. A further objective of the project was to determine the potential disruptions to water-dependent economic activities related to the climate impacts on hydrological systems, and to propose a portfolio of possible adaptation strategies.

This particular MOOC is inspired by the ACQWA Project and offers a better understanding of climate change, its impacts on the quality and quantity of water in mountain regions and the risks related to changing water resources. From an interdisciplinary perspective, the participation of twenty-five instructors from five different countries (Switzerland, England, South Korea, India and Nepal) and fourteen institutions (UNIGE, RTS, UNIFR, UZH, ETHZ, Meteodat GmbH, WGMS, Imperial College London, Agroscope, République et Canton de Genève, Yonsei University, IHCAP, ICIMOD, SDC, FOEN) highlights the diversity of both theoretical and practical viewpoints related to these issues.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, you will be able :

– to define the general concept of climate change in mountain regions
– to understand the concepts associated with climate change such as adaptation and water governance strategies
– to consider the impacts of climate change on water resources in mountain regions
– to identify the impacts of climate change on hydropower, agriculture, aquatic ecosystems and health
– to enumerate risks that can occur in mountain areas and lead to disruptions in water availability and use.