The Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research (IGF) explores the regional manifestations of global change processes (climate change plus globalization) and their impact on mountain areas across the world. These processes reflect the dynamics of the inseparable interaction of humans with the environment in the Anthropocene, when local human action has become a global driver. In the 21st century, the threat of overstepping planetary boundaries in general, and the local/regional resilience of man-environment systems in mountain areas in particular, present central challenges for the longer term. Overcoming such grand challenges will only be possible through a comprehensive socio-economic transformation oriented on the normative guidelines of sustainable development goals.
The Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research, using extensive data bases that document this change across time and space, sees its mission as generating systems knowledge about man-environment systems in mountain areas in the fields of cryosphere (glaciers and permafrost), geosphere (earth's surface) biosphere (biodiversity) and society (demographic change, mobility and migration, land use, socio-economic change, agriculture, tourism, urbanization, natural hazards). To this end it uses innovative methods of long-term monitoring, earth observation (especially remote sensing and automatic information extraction), geomatics, qualitative and quantitative data extraction, as well as citizen science approaches.
The institute contributes to the production of targeted knowledge by generating statements about possible future scenarios on the basis of models and hypotheses, which can then form the basis for developing adaptation strategies. The relevant themes include scarcity of land and resources, livelihoods, vulnerability and resilience, as well as adaptation.
The institute provides enhanced communication and information by developing web2.0-based methods, with communication and information platforms, instructive videos, tutorials, wikis, etc.. In this way it explores new ways of generating transformation knowledge and makes many of the extracted data available to the scientific community and to society at large, some of it in peer-reviewed publications.