IMC 2022: 800 mountain researchers gathered in Innsbruck


From September 11 to 15, the University of Innsbruck hosted the second International Mountain Conference, the largest conference in the world devoted exclusively to mountain issues. For four days, many experts from a wide range of disciplines engaged in an interdisciplinary exchange on various aspects of mountain research. The organizers Wolfgang Gurgiser and Stefan Mayr from the research area “Mountain Regions” at the University of Innsbruck sum up the conference positively and are planning a next edition of the IMC in 2025.

Mountain regions are of great importance for man and nature: they cover about 25% of the earth’s surface, are inhabited by more than a billion people and provide up to a quarter of the population. world in vital resources. At the same time, mountain regions are particularly affected by the global increase in temperature due to climate change and are particularly hard hit by the associated ecological and socio-economic consequences. “Many developments in mountain regions are not yet sufficiently understood due to their complexity and current dynamics. With the International Mountain Conference IMC, we have therefore set ourselves the objective of bringing together in one place as many researchers in the natural and social sciences as possible. This approach should allow and promote a better understanding of mountain systems in detail but also in their entirety. After 2019, the concept was again successful this year, as we saw from the many positive feedbacks during and after the conference”, underline the organizers Stefan Mayr and Wolfgang Gurgiser from the university research area “Mountain Regions”. . “This confirms once again that the University of Innsbruck, with its thematic focus and location in the middle of the Alps, offers ideal conditions for hosting an international conference on mountain topics. We would like to thank all participants and our many national and international project partners. Carolina Adler, Managing Director of the global organization MRI (Mountain Research Initiative), also mentions the successful implementation of the conference already with its second edition: “This second edition of the series of international mountain conferences in Innsbruck is a key event in mountain research. It not only provides a unique opportunity to focus on the state of global change research activity in mountain regions, but also invites genuine dialogue interdisciplinary science and engagement with a wide range of diverse topics that are relevant to mountain regions, globally It provides an opportunity to reflect on how we as a community are actively contributing to addressing these challenges through knowledge and ideas that inform and inspire action.”

Comments on the conference:

It was really a fantastic conference, thank you! I particularly appreciated having sessions with time for discussion (which also meant they weren’t overwhelmed), and I would say that the balance between formal sessions and breaks for informal discussions and posters was perfect. It was a real opportunity to make new collaborations.

Besides the sessions, there was also plenty of room for networking.

Poster ausstellung

An important part of the conference was a large outdoor poster exhibition.

Teilnehmer*innen der Konferenz hören einem Vortrag zu.

The full IMC program included over 80 sessions and workshops.

Essensausgabe beim Streetfood Festival bei der Konferenz.

The festival support program also included a street food festival with regional specialties.

Conference on mountain issues surrounded by mountains

The unique conference in the world exclusively on mountain issues brought together 800 participants on site in Innsbruck and 70 virtually. Thus, nearly 900 people from 60 countries participated in IMC 2022 with more than 80 sessions, workshops and a comprehensive support program. The very broad scope of the conference covered, among others, the following topics: impacts of the climate crisis, scenarios for glaciers, permafrost and water systems, future of mountain forests, development of mountain ecosystems, adaptation strategies for mountain regions and pathways to sustainability the future of mountain tourism as well as perspectives on life in a possible “little or no snow” future. The variety of subjects was further illustrated by an open-air poster exhibition open to the public and larger-than-life photographs by artist Irmtraud Hubatschek. The organizers also underline the importance of a comprehensive accompanying program which offers participants the best possible quality of stay – regionally authentic – even outside the sessions and workshops: the conference was opened with a concert by the Tyrolean musician from internationally renowned Manu Delago, excursions to the mining history of Innsbruck and the Hintereisferner in the Ötztal were also offered, and the conference ended with a local food festival (see photos). “We deliberately put substantial work into the design of the accompanying program, as we consider the time between and after the sessions to be at least as important as the content of the sessions themselves. The IMC offers a space for exchange within the discipline and beyond disciplinary borders, which also justifies the course at the rate of 3 years. This approach combined with the framework, which allows discussion on mountain research in the middle of the mountains, is one of the strengths of our conference”, underlines Wolfgang Gurgiser.

By hosting the International Mountain Conference, the organizing team has brought additional attractive events to Innsbruck, such as a Mountain Research Initiative MRI Altitude Dependent Climate Change Workshop, a Biodiversa Project Workshop, a multi-week Highlands Project Project Meeting or the Alpine Drought Observatory Project Final Conference. The organizers are also particularly pleased with the intense participation of the Canadian Mountain Network with a representative of the First Nations, which once again underlines the international exchange of information within the framework of the CIM.

Summer school for young researchers in the Ötztal valley

In the week leading up to the September 5-9 conference, a summer school for young researchers took place at the Obergurgl University Center of the University of Innsbruck. The “Student for Student Summerschool – S4SSS” enabled 75 doctoral students from all regions of the world to present their research topics and network internationally before the young researchers took part in the Innsbruck conference. “We developed the format specifically for IMC to allow young researchers to stay longer. It is also a priority for us to support people from disadvantaged regions of the world to enable them to participate. This year, we were able to award 30 travel grants and thus welcome young scientists from South America, Africa and Asia,” say Stefan Mayr and Wolfgang Gurgiser.

Teilnehmer*innen der Summerschool stehen am Sattel der Hohen Mut im Ötztal.

Participants of the summer school on the saddle of Hohe Mut in the Ötztal.

From the comments on the Summerschool:

S4SSS was beyond my expectation. I had a great time, making new friends around the world. It is an experience of a lifetime that I wish to relive if given the opportunity again.

Stefan Mayr and Wolfgang Gurgiser

The organizers Stefan Mayr and Wolfgang Gurgiser from the research area “Mountain Regions” at the University of Innsbruck.

The next Summerschool and International Mountain Conference at the University of Innsbruck is scheduled for 2025.

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