Mountain regions play a crucial role in the global water cycle, providing fresh water to nearly one-third of the world’s population. Vegetation significantly influences the mountain water balance, affecting processes like infiltration and evapotranspiration. As climate change intensifies, with rising moisture levels, temperatures, and CO2 concentrations, mountain ecosystems will experience changes. Notably, we observe a phenomenon known as “greening,” characterized by vegetation expansion and densification.

Figure: Expected climate change impacts on cryosphere, mountain vegetation and water supply.


While existing research has primarily focused on climate change impacts related to glaciers and snow, Philip proposes in the GREENPEAKS that mountain greening is equally significant and may have even broader consequences for the water supply from the mountains. Therefore, GREENPEAKS aims to conduct a systematic and large-scale assessment of mountain greening through three main objectives:

  1. Understanding historical vegetation changes: Investigating how mountain vegetation has evolved over time.
  2. Attributing mountain greening to climate change: Analyzing the role of climate factors in driving greening.
  3. Assessing impacts on water balance: Examining how greening affects the mountain water cycle.


To achieve these goals, GREENPEAKS employs cutting-edge research techniques, including hydro-meteorological observations, unmanned aerial system remote sensing, ecohydrological modeling, global-scale remote sensing, and causality analysis.

The insights gained from the project will enhance our understanding of climate-induced mountain greening and its implications for water availability. GREENPEAKS is funded under the Veni Talent Programme of The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)