Loss and Damage in the mountain cryosphere

Huggel, Christian; Muccione, Veruska; Carey, Mark; James, Rachel; Jurt Vicuña Muñoz, Christine; Mechler, Reinhard (2019). Loss and Damage in the mountain cryosphere Regional Environmental Change, 19(5), pp. 1387-1399. Springer 10.1007/s10113-018-1385-8

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The mountain cryosphere, which includes glaciers, permafrost, and snow, is one of the Earth’s systems most strongly affected by climate change. In recent decades, changes in the cryosphere have been well documented in many high-mountain regions. While there are some benefits from snow and ice loss, the negative impacts, including from glacier lake outburst floods and variations in glacier runoff, are generally considered to far outweigh the positive impacts, particularly if cultural impacts are considered. In international climate policy, there has been growing momentum to address the negative impacts of climate change, or ‘Loss and Damage’ (L&D) from climate change. It is not clear exactly what can and should be done to tackle L&D, but researchers and practitioners are beginning to engage with policy discussions and develop potential frameworks and supporting information. Despite the strong impact of climate change on the mountain cryosphere, there has been limited interaction between cryosphere researchers and L&D. Therefore, little work has been done to consider how L&D in the mountain cryosphere might be conceptualized, categorized, and assessed. Here, we make a first attempt to analyze L&D in the mountain cryosphere by conducting a systematic literature review to extract L&D impacts and examples from existing literature. We find that L&D is a global phenomenon in the mountain cryosphere and has been more frequently documented in the developing world, both in relation with slow and sudden onset processes. We develop a categorization of L&D, making distinctions between physical and societal impacts, primary and secondary impacts, and identifying seven types of L&D (including L&D to culture, livelihoods, revenue, natural resources, life, and security). We hope this conceptual approach will support future work to understand and address L&D in the mountain cryosphere.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Knowledge Systems and Knowledge Sharing


Huggel, Christian;
Muccione, Veruska;
Carey, Mark;
James, Rachel;
Jurt Vicuña Muñoz, Christine and
Mechler, Reinhard


G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences








David Zimmer

Date Deposited:

03 Sep 2019 10:22

Last Modified:

23 Sep 2020 09:30

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Mountain cryosphere; Climate change impacts; Loss and damage; Risks





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