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Gran Paradiso National Park

The Gran Paradiso National Park (PNGP), located in in the north-western Italian Alps, was founded in 1922 from a previous Royal hunting reserve and is therefore the oldest Italian national park.

The PNGP is responsible for the conservation of 720 Km2 of alpine environments between 800 and 4061 m above sea level. The PNGP has a long tradition in promoting and carrying out scientific research applied to conservation both within and outside its borders. The “Alpine Wildlife Research Centre” is the research centre of the PNGP in charge of coordinating and carrying out researches on the ecology and conservation of animal biodiversity in the park.

The scientist-in-charge for this project is Dr. Achaz von Hardenberg, who is the in-house biologist of the PNGP. Dr. von Hardenberg is in charge of various research programmes on alpine wildlife in the PNGP on topics ranging from population dynamics and life history to molecular ecology and biodiversity monitoring. In 2006 he started and coordinated a research program on high altitude lake ecosystems in the Park investigating in particular the effects of introduced exotic fish on biodiversity.


Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineer and Topography

The main task of the Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineer and Topography (DIIAR) of the Politecnico di Milano is addressed to spread applied and theoretical knowledge on the following research fields: hydraulic construction, applied ecology, applied geology, hydraulic, hydrology, sanitary engineering, cartography and topography.

DIIAR is responsible for the organization of more than 80 courses in the Bachelor and Master of Science and 3 Doctoral Program (Ph.D.) in Water Engineering, Sanitary-Environmental Engineering and Geodesy and Geomatics. In the framework of the DIIAR 4 specialized libraries and 3 laboratory are present.

DIIAR is constituted into 5 sections. The main research activities of the section of Hydrology (CIMI) is related to applied hydrological and meteorological science: study of the water cycle, development of mathematical model for the simulation of land-atmosphere interactions, flood forecasting systems, laboratory test, field campaigns, stochastic study of extreme events, analysis of inundation of flood prone areas.

Marco Mancini, the scientific coordinator of POLIMI in the proposed project, is professor of Hydraulic Constructions from 2000 and teaches River Catchments Management at Politecnico di Milano. He took his Master of Science in Civil Engineering in Naples in 1985 and the Ph.D. at Politecnico di Milano. He is author of more than 70 research papers in the field of remote sensing and hydrological modelling of flood and land surface interactions. He is coordinating a group of about ten young researchers in the study related to hydrological science.


Institute of Geography

The Institute of Geography, founded in 1881, is one of the five departments of the Faculty of Sciences. It consists of four sections: Physical Geography, Soil Science, Human Geography and the Centre for Development and Environment. Since Prof. Eduard Brückner, the department has a long tradition in atmosphere, past, present and future climate change and glacier research.

The Climatology and Meteorology Research Group (KLIMET; is composed of 7 research staff, 4 support staff and 12 graduate students. Over the last 15 years KLIMET has participated in EU (ADVICE, EMULATE, SOAP, CIRCE) and national integrated cross-disciplinary programmes (National Centre of Excellence in Research on Climate (NCCR Climate; covering the topics of: Past climate dynamics, climate reconstructions, GCM/data comparison, weather and climate extremes and their impacts on society and economy in the Alps and Europe, micrometeorology, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, Mediterranean climate change, glacier research, future climate scenarios and impacts.

Dr Jürg Luterbacher studied physical Geography, Botany, Chemistry and Geology at the University of Bern, Switzerland. In 1999 he was awarded a doctorate in Natural Sciences from the University of Bern. For several years he was the principal research scientist of EU 5th framework projects. In this role he is the group’s project manager, leader an co-leader of collaborative multidisciplinary national and international programs related to climate change issues (past, present, future), climate variability at different time scales, weather and climate extremes, natural hazards, statistical climate reconstructions, dynamical aspects and related societal and environmental issues.


School of Geography

The School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences (GEES) is one of the largest and most dynamic schools in the UK. GEES’ international reputation for research was reflected in the 4 rating achieved in the 2001 assessment of UK universities research activity. The School’s inter-disciplinary research focus brings together a diversity of science and social science approaches from +80 staff. Within GEES, the Hydro-ecology Research Group undertakes state-of-the-art research upon hydrological-ecological process interactions. A major research focus of Group is assessment of the impact of hydro-climatological variability upon ecosystem structure and functioning, particularly in mountainous environments.

The team have considerable experience of working together and in vulnerable mountain and other cold environments including: UK, Pyrénées, Nepal, Greenland, Alaska, Lappland, and New Zealand.

Dr. David M. Hannah has research interests in: (a) hydro-climatological processes in mountain river basins; (b) energy budgets and thermal behaviour of rivers; and (c) climatic sensitivity of river flow regimes. He has a strong cross-cutting interest in hydro-ecology. He has published extensively; and combines field-based, statistical and simulation methodologies in his research.

Dr. Alexander Milner is Head of the Hydro-ecology Research Group and he has a long history of riverine research in mountain environments in many different environments globally. He has specific expertise (and has published widely) upon glacier-fed river system ecology. Dr. Lee Brown has published on riverine systems in alpine environments and together with Drs Hannah and Milner has developed novel techniques for examining changes in alpine river water source contributions and ecology under climate change scenarios.


Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development

The Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development, best known as HEID, was founded in 1927 at the time of the League of Nations. It is an institution dedicated to providing students from all over the world the means to undertake international studies, from a historical, legal, economic, political and social perspective. It is an autonomous publicly funded private academic institution with close ties but separate from the University of Geneva. It has created in 1995 an “International Environmental Studies Unit” which does teaching and research on the international dimensions of environmental questions. Its research has been focused on water and climate change issues.

Urs Luterbacher will be the principal contact person at HEID for the ACQWA project. Urs Luterbacher is a Professor of Political Science at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva Switzerland. He took his Licence and PhD degrees from the University of Geneva after doing graduate work at the University of Michigan. Prof. Luterbacher has done work on dynamic models of arms races, the general theory of conflict and cooperation, political systems modeling and more recently in the analysis of conflict and cooperation related to environmental questions. Prof Luterbacher has been visiting professor at the University of Michigan and the University of Nebraska. He is the author of several books and articles on Arms race modelling, Conflict and cooperation and international cooperation about global environmental change. His latest work on International relations and global climate change was published by MIT press.

Ellen Wiegandt was one of the principal investigator of the ACQWA project and was leading WP4. Unfortunately she left us suddenly after a short illness at the beginning of 2009. The ACQWA partners will remember a nice and dedicated person from the project kickoff meeting. We wish to thank her for her great efforts. Above all, we trust that she now rests in peace...

In our memories, Ellen still holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and has worked in a wide number of different positions, in particular as Scientific Director, Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme (HDP), Research Fellow and Coordinator, International Environmental Studies Unit, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva and in the context of the Society and Environment Program, Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch, Sion. She is a lecturer at the Graduate School for International Studies and Development (HEID), and is the 2003 recipient of the Moppert Prize for Sustainable Development.

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