CIRMOUNT grew from a grass-roots initiative in the early 2000s, fueled by the concerns and interests of a cross-section of physical and ecological scientists working in western North American mountain climate sciences. While coming from diverse disciplines, these scientists and those who align with CIRMOUNT share a common passion to improve and integrate understanding and applications about climate in western mountains and effects on ecosystems. An ad hoc committee formed to promote greater understanding of the physical processes affecting western mountains and their ecosystems, and to improve communication of scientific findings to policy- and decision-makers. Several symposia and special sessions were hosted in 2002-2003, and in May, 2004, the nascent CIRMOUNT sponsored the Mountain Climate Sciences Symposium at Lake Tahoe, California, to identify the range of topics that CIRMOUNT should address and to envision projects that the consortium could undertake.
Participants at the Tahoe Symposium proposed a research initiative aimed at improving our understanding and ability to predict future climate and ecosystem changes in the West. In particular, they agreed that strategies were needed to encourage close collaboration among researchers from many scientific disciplines regarding the likely impacts that temperature and precipitation changes arising from both natural variability and greenhouse warming would have on western North American mountain ecosystems. Answering these questions will be critical in assessing their impacts on the hydrology of the West, and how those changes may be linked to ecosystem goods and services. From the groundswell of interest at this symposium, CIRMOUNT was initiated, and the first conference of a regular series, MTNCLIM, was held at Chico, Montana as MTNCLIM 2005.
CIRMOUNT addresses four urgent challenges facing western North America climate science and policy communities:
CIRMOUNT GOALS for the mountains of Western North America:
CIRMOUNT aligns with the goals of the U.S. federal Global Change Research Program, coordinates with the USGS Western Mountain Initiative, and is endorsed as a pilot regional project of the international Mountain Research Initiative.
CIRMOUNT Strategic Plan April 2007, outlines goals for the future.