The changes occurring in mountain regions are an epitome of climate change. The dramatic shrinkage of major glaciers over the past century – and especially in the last 30 years – is one of several iconic images that have come to symbolize climate change. Climate creates the context for ecosystems, and climate variables strongly influence the structure, composition, and processes that characterize distinct ecosystems. Climate change, therefore, is having direct and indirect effects on species attributes, ecological interactions, and ecosystem processes. Because changes in the climate system will continue regardless of emissions mitigation, management strategies to enhance the resilience of ecosystems will become increasingly important. It is essential that management responses to climate change proceed using the best available science despite uncertainties associated with the future path of climate change, the response of ecosystems to climate effects, and the effects of management. Given these uncertainties, management adaptation will require flexibility to reflect our growing understanding of climate change impacts and management effectiveness.
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Some guidelines for helping natural resources adapt to climate change