Graham McDowell

G McDowell

I specialize in understanding lived experiences of climate change in high mountain communities, with a focus on identifying the determinants and consequences of adaptation to changes in glacial hydrology. My work bridges theoretical insights from human dimensions of climate change research, socio-ecological systems analysis, and earth systems science, but is rooted in field research with communities at the frontlines of climate change. I have led projects in the Nepal Himalaya, Peruvian Andes, Rocky Mountains, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic as well as numerous global-scale assessments of climate change vulnerability and adaptation in cold regions. I am active in publishing and presenting my scholarly contributions and am committed to the mobilization of scientific knowledge, including through my work as a Contributing Author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I am currently a PhD student, Vanier Scholar, Liu Scholar, and Public Scholar at the University of British Columbia, where I am affiliated with the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. I hold an MSc (Distinction) from the University of Oxford and a BA (Hons 1st class) from McGill University.


Personal Website:


Ford, J., king, N., Galappaththi, E., Pearch, T., McDowell, G., Harper, S. (2020) The Resilience of Indigenous Peoples to Environmental Change. One Earth.

Canosa, I., Ford, J., McDowell, G., Jones, J., Pearce, T. (2020) Progress in climate change adaptation in the Arctic. Environmental Research Letters.

Hock, R., Rasul, G., … McDowell, G., et al. (2019) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC). High Mountain Areas chapter.

McDowell, G., Huggel, C., Frey, H., Wang, F., Cramer, R., Ricciardi, V. (2019) Adaptation action and research in glaciated mountain systems: Are they enough to meet the challenge of climate change? Global Environmental Change. 54: 19-30.

Windfeld, E., Ford, J., Berrang-Ford, L., McDowell, G. (2019) How do community-level climate change vulnerability assessments treat future vulnerability and integrate diverse datasets? A review of the literature. Environmental Reviews.

Shaw, S., Rodina, L., … McDowell, G. (2018) Unpacking social-ecological transformations: Conceptual, ethical and methodological insights. The Anthropocene Review. 5(3): 250-265.

McDowell, G. (2018) Book Review – Mountain Ice and Water: Investigations of the Hydrologic Cycle in Alpine Environments. Mountain Research and Development. 38(3):270-271.

Ford, J., Pearce, T., McDowell, G. et al. (2018) Vulnerability and its discontents: The past, present, and future of climate change vulnerability research. Climatic Change.

McDowell, G. & Koppes, M. (2017) Robust adaptation research in high mountains: Integrating the scientific, social, and ecological dimensions of glacio-hydrological change. Water 9: 739. (Special Issue – Global Warming Impacts on Mountain Glaciers and Communities).

McDowell, G., Stephenson, E., Ford. J. (2016) Adaptation, Adaptation Science, and the Status of Adaptation in Mountain Regions. In Climate Change Adaptation Strategies: An Upstream-Downstream Lens, eds. Salzmann, N., Huggel, C., Nussbaumer, S., & Ziervogel, G. Springer.

McDowell, G., Ford. J., Jones, J. (2016) 25 years of community-level climate change vulnerability research: Trends, progress, and future directions. Environmental Research Letters. 11: 033001

Ford, J., McDowell, G., Pearce, T. (2015) The adaptation challenge in the Arctic. Nature Climate Change. 5: 1046-1053.

Ford, J., … McDowell, G. et al. (2015) Community-based adaptation research in the Arctic. WIREs Climate Change. doi: 10.1002/wcc376.

McDowell, G., Stephenson, E., Ford. J. (2014) Adaptation to climate change in glaciated mountain regions. Climatic Change 126: 77-91.

Carey, M., McDowell, G., Huggel, C., Jackson, J., Portocarrero, C., Reynolds, J., Vicuna, L. (2014) Integrated Approaches to Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Dynamic Socio-Cryospheric Systems. In Snow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks and Disasters, eds. W, Haeberli & C. Whiteman. Elsevier.

Ford, J., McDowell, G. Jones, J. (2014). The state of climate change adaptation in the Arctic. Environmental Research Letters. 9: 104005-104014.

McDowell, G. and Ford, J. (2014). The socio-ecological dimensions of hydrocarbon development in the Disko Bay region of Greenland: Opportunities, risks, and tradeoffs. Applied Geography 46: 98-110.

Ford, J., McDowell, G., Shirley, J., et al. (2013) The dynamic multi-scale nature of climate change vulnerability: An Inuit harvesting example. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 103: 1193-1211.

McDowell, G., Ford, J., Lehner, B., Berrang-Ford, L., Sherpa, A. (2013) Climate-related hydrological change and human vulnerability in remote mountain regions: A case study from Khumbu, Nepal. Regional Environmental Change 13: 299-310.

McDowell, G. (2012). The role of bridging organizations in facilitating socio-ecological transformation: A case study of the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative, MSc Thesis. University of Oxford, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford, UK.

McDowell, G. (2011). The human dimensions of climate change in the Khumbu Region of Nepal: Implications of hydrological modification. BA Honours Thesis. McGill University, Department of Geography, Montréal, QC.

Knight, M. and McDowell, G. (2010). Breaking the Ice: McGill researchers work with Inuit hunters to understand and publicize the social effects of climate change. McGill Daily 99: 14-15.

McDowell, G. (2010). Introduction. Ampersand 3: viii-ix.


In addition, I have served as a peer-reviewer for Cambridge University Press, Nature Sustainability, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Climatic Change, Climate and Development, Environmental Research Letters, Environment and Planning A, Regional Environmental Change, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, and the Journal of Mountain Science. I have also served as an Expert Reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as book reviewer for Mountain Research and Development.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

2202 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T1Z4, Canada
Fax: 604 822 9250

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia