Beniston, M., H. F. Diaz, and R. S. Bradley, 1997: Climatic change at high elevation sites: An overview. Climate Change, 36, 233-251. Reprinted in Climatic Change at High Elevation Sites, H. F. Diaz, M Beniston, and R. S. Bradley (Eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1-19.


This paper provides an overview of climatic changes that have been observed during the past century at certain high-elevation sites, and changes in a more distant past documented by a variety of climate-sensitive environmental indicators, such as tree-rings and alpine glaciers, that serve as a measure of the natural variability of climate in mountains over longer time scales.

Detailed studies such as those found in this special issue of Climatic Change, as well as those noted in this review, for the mountain regions of the world, advance our understanding in a variety of ways. They are not only helpful to characterize present and past climatological features in the mountainous zones, but they also provide useful information to the climate modeling community. Because of the expected refinements in the physical parametrizations of climate models in coming years, and the probable increase in the spatial resolution of GCMs, the use of appropriate data from high elevation sites will become of increasing importance for model initialization, verification, and intercomparison purposes. The necessity of accurate projections of climate change is paramount to assessing the likely impacts of climate change on mountain biodiversity, hydrology and cryosphere, and on the numerous economic activities which take place in these regions.