Canadian Mountain Assessment

The Canadian Mountain Assessment (CMA) will address three fundamental questions: what do we know, not know, and need to know about Canada’s mountain systems? Answering these questions will advance key objectives of the CMN, and will significantly improve our ability to identify and respond to changing conditions in Canada’s vast mountainous regions. Furthermore, the assessment’s inclusive, consultative development and review procedures will provide an important example of collaboration and reconciliation activities by the CMN. More broadly, the assessment will raise the profile of mountain systems in Canadian and international research and policy contexts. The CMA is a critical component of advancing a comprehensive,  evidence-based, and inclusive vision of Canada’s diverse mountain systems.

The CMA will be informed by lessons learned from key regional and global knowledge synthesis endeavours (e.g. Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment; IPCC reports). Its specific structure and content will be determined in consultation with CMN’s Indigenous, scientific, government, and private sector partners, to ensure that the spectrum of stakeholder values and interests is represented in the assessment. The CMA will be focused primarily on evaluating existing peer-reviewed articles, but will integrate insights from in-progress CMN supported projects, grey literature, and narrative accounts/oral traditions, as appropriate.

Each chapter will be led by a team of experts, which will include leading researchers and, where appropriate, Indigenous partners with expert knowledge of mountain systems. Combined, the chapters will provide a first-of-its-kind look at the state of knowledge of Canada’s mountains, including the relative scope of knowledge across topics and geographies. The chapter composition will address topics related to the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability as well as the ecological and human dimensions of climate change, making the assessment relevant for tracking Canada’s progress on commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.

Timeline, Activities and Deliverables

Activities began in May 2020. An interim report that will support the Network’s near-term planning and advocacy purposes will be delivered in February 2022. This report will enable the CMN to 1) determine priority areas for research investment in the final two years of the NCE and 2) to begin outlining a concrete rationale for increased national-level investment and political engagement with mountain systems in Canada. Comment on the interim report will be sought from the CMN network, Indigenous partners, and other key stakeholders over the spring and summer of 2022. The final assessment will be delivered in December 2022.

Project Team

Project Leader

Dr. Graham McDowell has designed and conducted numerous assessments of the state of scientific knowledge in mountainous, Arctic, and global contexts. He has also served as a Contributing Author for both the IPCC SROCC ‘High Mountain Areas’ chapter as well as the IPCC AR6 ‘Cross-Chapter Paper on Mountains’, the most comprehensive scientific assessments of mountain systems to date. In addition, he has led numerous community-based studies with Indigenous peoples, including projects focused on climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the Nepal Himalaya, Peruvian Andes, Greenland, and Baffin Island. Dr. McDowell holds degrees from UBC, Oxford, and McGill. See for more information.

Project Supervisor

Dr. Shawn Marshall is the Departmental Science Advisor for Environment and Climate Change Canada, professor of Geography at the University of Calgary, and a member of the Mountain Research Initiatives’ Science Leadership Council. His research examines glacier-climate processes through a combination of modelling and field studies in the mountain regions of western and Arctic Canada, Iceland, and Greenland. Dr. Marshall held a Canada Research Chair in Climate Change from 2007-2017.