Climate change in the Carpathian-Balkan Area. Advancing research and cooperation

Marcel MINDRESCU, Daniel VERES, Astrid BJÖRNSEN GURUNG, Thorsten KIEFER

Abstract


The Carpathian Mountains are considered to be one of Europe’s last “wilderness” areas, but are nevertheless under heavy pressure from human activities. Examples range from large-scale activities (e.g. metal and coal mining) and ecological disasters (e.g. tailing dam failures in the Toroiaga and Baia Mare areas) to cross-border pollution (e.g. Chernobyl nuclear accident). The current political thrust for economic development is accelerating the pace of industrial activities, exploitation of natural resources and tourism. Romania has just recently been integrated into the European Union and many community-based projects were initiated to evaluate problems related to climatic and anthropogenic impacts.
The diversity of landforms that characterize the Carpathian region encompassing mountain ranges and large spans of adjacent lowlands and the dynamic interplay between North Atlantic, continental, and Mediterranean atmospheric circulation patterns in southeastern Europe, have resulted in extremely fragmented habitats and exceptional biodiversity (Veres and Mindrescu, 2013). However, the Carpathian Mountains remain the least studied mountain environment in Europe, as reflected for example by the low number of well-dated and high-resolution paleorecords (e.g. Buczkó et al. 2009). Rose et al. (2009) published a pollution history study from a lake in the Retezat Mountains at the western extremity of the Southern Carpathians, but no paleoenvironmental studies exist for the rest of the mountain range, despite the abundance of suitable sites (Akinyemi et al., 2013).
An interdisciplinary approach to geoscience is particularly important in this vast research field (geosciences), as innovative science is increasingly stimulated by studies that cross disciplinary boundaries and thus benefit from multiple research methods and viewpoints. Grasping this concept has led us to encourage interdisciplinary cooperation by creating “meeting places” where geoscience researchers and scholars can find common grounds for discussion and collaboration (Hutchinson and Mindrescu, 2012).
In this regard an international meeting was organized at the Geography Department, University of Suceava, Romania, and was cosponsored by the University of Suceava, the Applied Geography Association (GEOCONCEPT), Past Global Changes (PAGES) and the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI). The purpose of the workshop was to bring together an international group of scientists interested in the Carpathian-Balkan region to discuss research results and promote opportunities for interdisciplinary and international collaboration. The entire workshop was webcast. The program centered on 36 oral and 15 poster presentations as well as open discussions on the climatic and environmental dynamics during the Pleistocene and Holocene. The 70 participants were from Romania, Hungary, Germany, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Ukraine, Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Greece and Belgium. For many young researchers and students the workshop offered an educational opportunity to present their results to an international audience and discuss their research in a multidisciplinary community.
To promote follow-up activities in the region, the “Suceava working group” was created under the lead of Marcel Mindrescu, Angelica Feurdean, Eniko Magyari and Daniel Veres. A group website is currently being set up (http://atlas.usv.ro/www/climatechange/) and grant proposals will be prepared. The group will also coordinate the organization of a second regional workshop in 2014 in Romania. Further activities, such as summer camps or meetings in the field are also considered.


Keywords


Climate Change, Carpathian-Balkan region, Late Pleistocene and Holocene, special issue

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4316/GEOREVIEW.2013.22.1.73