2017 International HiMAC Workshop Held in Beijing

The 2017 International Workshop on Observations and Understanding of Changes in High Mountain and Cold Regions (HiMAC 2017) was held in Beijing on March 3, 2017. The two-day event was attended by over 60 experts and scholars from Finland, Nepal, Netherlands, the U.S., Norway, Mongolia and China. They were brought together by their research interests focusing on Earth's cold regions including high-latitude oceans and high-altitude cold areas, especially Arctic regions and High Asia.

Prof. GUO Huadong, Chair of the Science Committee of the Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) Program, gave a keynote report on a comparative study of Earth's "Three Poles". In his report, he said that the Tibetan Plateau, the world's largest and highest plateau, is regarded as the world's third pole because it contains abundant ice and snow resources outside of the Arctic and Antarctic. The Three Poles, as the major cold regions of Earth, are particularly sensitive to global warming and are hotspots for global change research. Prof. Guo held that integrated observations of environmental change in these cold regions is crucial for understanding the systematic process of global change.

Prof. Guo reviewed that current research mainly focuses on a single pole, and comparative studies across three poles are covered very little. To fully understand the impacts and responses of the Three Poles to global change, he proposed that scientists need to consider Earth's Three Poles as a whole, and study the spatiotemporal varieties, interconnections and relationships of environmental parameters. He pointed out the advantages of using space-based Earth observation for systematic study of the Three Poles.

Prof. WANG Changlin, Executive Director of the Secretariat of the International Society for Digital Earth (ISDE), remarked that in the big data era, ISDE will keep an eye on Three Poles studies. He also introduced the Digital Silk Road Alliance undertaken by ISDE and welcomed the involvement of experts and scholars.

Dr. QIU Yubao, lead on the GEO Cold Regions Initiative (GEOCRI), introduced this initiative, pinpointing its three priorities including development of the Community Portal for information services in cold regions, integrated applications of in-situ and remote sensing observation, and the definition of Essential Cold Region Variables (ECRVs).

The workshop focused on five themes: integrated observations in cold regions, understanding of changes in the Arctic, teleconnection research and model-building in high mountains and northern cold regions, snow and ice observations in mountain and cold regions, and water cycle observations in mountain and cold regions.

The discussions also covered the following topics: space-based Earth observation facilities and data, the integrated Arctic observing system, the observation of glaciers, permafrost, snow, and river/lake ice, the climate correlation between the Arctic and Eurasia, ecological hydrological processes, and basin hydrological energy balance. Understanding these parameters and observations are the key to the establishment of Big Earth Data, providing guidance to the implementation of DBAR and GEOCRI related information services. Thus, they are prerequisites for conducting a comparative study on the Three Poles of Earth.
The workshop featured in-depth discussion on how to observe and understand the environmental changes in high-mountain and cold regions and how this kind of understanding will facilitate the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. On the afternoon of March 4, the workshop, in collaboration with GEOCRI, held discussions on ECRVs and delivered a preliminary plan prepared for GEOCRI's project meeting to be held in Europe next month.

The workshop was organized by the DBAR High Mountain and Cold Region Task Force (DBAR-HiMAC) together with other international programs, and received guidance from the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (IEEE GRSS), ISDE, and Pan-Eurasian Experiment (PEEX).


Group photo.