created a real breakthrough for a new awareness about the mountains of the world and their natural and human resources. In the years 1997 and 1998 the mountains as water towers for a thirsty planet got a special interest of the UN institutions, which led not only to the International Year of Mountains 2002 and the International Year of Freshwater 2003, but also to a better cooperation between science and policy. The particular hydrological characteristics of mountains areas are manifested by disproportionately large discharge, compared to the surrounding lowlands. Mountains account for 20-50 % of total discharge in humid temperate regions, while in semi-arid and arid areas, the contribution of mountains to total discharge are 50 – 90 % with extremes of over 90
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