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    The Japanese Alps is a mountain region in central Japan. This region is located at the boundary of three crustal plates: Eurasian, Filipino and North American plates. This setting produces one of the most complicated geological situations in the world. Hence, the Japanese Alps offers unique and valuable benefits for us. Ecosystems of the Japanese Alps enhance our lives with providing 'Ecosystem services'. Towering mountains of the Japanese Alps act as 'the roof of Japan'. Humid air from oceans cools down during transportation toward mountains and provides sufficient rainwater and snow. Rainwater cultivated in ecosystems of Japanese Alps eventually flow into rivers, providing stable and high quality water resources. These water resources support lives in downstream populated areas, e.g., Tokyo and Nagoya. Besides, well-balanced water retention and percolation play an important role in preventing catastrophic natural hazards including floods and landslides. In addition, bio-resources obtained in this region can be used as foods, buildings and medicines. Thus, the the Japanese Alps guarantee our lives, health and wealth. The Japanese Alps also cultivate a wide range of biodiversity. The variable climate over the wide range of altitudes feeds many kinds of habitats, producing a notable hot-spot of biodiversity. In addition, the characteristic geomorphology, composed of a compact cluster of individual mountains, has enabled the natural lives to experience unique evolutions. These situations also contribute to conservations of rare species such as Raicho and Kozan-Cho. We are, however, possibly losing such benefits of the Japanese Alps because of global warming. Since 1980's, the negative effects of global warming have increasingly been reported. Recent academic reports imply negative changes in the Japanese Alps environments: drastic degradation of flower fields due to increased feeding by wild-lives, expanding risks in extermination of rare species. The IPCC 4th report indeed suggested that mountain regions, as well as polar regions, are susceptible to global warming. Scientific evidence is required to establish countermeasures against global warming. Now, it is the time to face these issues from a scientific point of view. To tackle this challenge, scientists from University of Tsukuba, Shinshu University and Gifu University has started up a scientific project, Japanese ALPS Inter-University Cooperative Project (JALPS). Specialists of meteorology, geomorphology, water and material cycles, carbon dynamics and biodiversity cooperate in order to promote this great challenge. The aim of the project is to assess the influences of global warming on environments of the Japanese Alps. The outcomes will permit us to predict future environmental changes and to reach solutions to the related problems.

 

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