Change Climate

448 Pages · 2013 · 1.98 MB · English

  • Change Climate

    European Research on



    Funded by the Seventh

    Framework Programme

    Research and


    Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

    Directorate I – Environment

    Unit I.4 – Climate Change & Natural Hazards

    Contact: Estelle Barrillon

    E-mail: estelle.barrillon@ec.europa.eu


    European Commission


    European Research on

    Climate Change

    Funded by the Seventh Framework Programme

    2013 Directorate-General for Research and Innovation EUROPE DIRECT is a service to help you find answers

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    Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013

    ISBN 978-92-79-31251-9


    © European Union, 2013

    Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

    Cover image : © Sergey Nivens, #33443008, 2012. Source: Fotolia.com INTRODUCTION

    Climate change is arguably among the most about climate change and lead to the estab-

    pressing societal challenges of our times, lishment of the IPCC in 1988. Since then, Eu-

    and now certainly the most well-known ropean research provided essential contribu-

    amongst the public. From initial observa- tions to its regularly published assessment

    tions of global warming and proposed ideas reports.

    about the root causes, a steady consensus

    has built up that climate change is one of Climate change research has grown consid-

    the most serious threats facing the world in erably in size and complexity. FP5 (1998–

    the near future. It is very clearly stated in 2002) supported a large number of projects

    the recently released 5th Assessment Report within the specific ‘key action’ on ‘Glob-

    of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate al Change, Climate and Biodiversity’. FP6

    Change (IPCC) on the physical science basis, (2003-2008) supported 31 large projects on

    that global warming is mostly caused by hu- climate change, with research areas ranging

    man activities. from atmospheric pollutants to the predic-

    tion of climate change and its impacts..

    Climate change research:

    its European roots Climate change in the Seventh

    Framework Programme for research

    Climate sciences have an illustrious Europe- (FP7, 2007-2013)

    an history. In the 19th century, Germany’s

    Wladimir Köppen laid the foundations for Climate research has been one of the main

    climatology, while the French mathemati- research themes of FP7 with one of its

    cian Joseph Fourier (1768 – 1830) postu- ‘Theme’, i.e. ‘Environment (including climate

    lated the natural greenhouse warming effect

    change)’ which includes it explicitly in the ti-

    and speculated that human behaviour could

    tle. Actions have supported research projects

    change a regions climate. Swedish Nobel

    that analyse pressures on the environment

    Prize winner Svante Arrhenius made the

    (oceans, atmosphere, and ecosystems) and

    first, and amazingly realistic, calculations in

    improve our understanding of the complex

    1896 on how changes in the levels of car-

    climate system, also through Earth System

    bon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere could

    modelling. Another key research area includ-

    alter the temperature of the Earth’s surface.

    ed assessing impacts, vulnerabilities and

    In the 1930s the British scientist Guy Stew-

    solutions for adapting to climate change, de-

    art Callendar demonstrated that global land

    veloping strategies for disaster risk reduction

    temperatures had increased over the pre-

    and analysing pathways for a smooth tran-

    vious 50 years and showed that this could

    sition to a low-carbon society. While some

    have been caused by anthropogenic CO2

    calls are still open and a final figure cannot


    yet be given, a rough estimation indicates

    Research into the Earth’s climate system has that from 2007 to 2013 in FP7 over 800 Mil-

    been present in the EU’s Framework Pro- lion Euro were spent on supporting climate

    grammes from the beginning. In the 1980s change research. The majority of the funding

    the focus was on the ozone depletion in the was provided for collaborative research proj-

    stratosphere and EU-projects played an im- ects within the ‘Cooperation’ programme1 ,

    portant role for the global ban of the pro- complemented by other funding for research

    duction of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and infrastructures for climate observations and

    other ozone depleting substances (Montreal modelling and for investigator-driven ‘fron-

    protocol). Meanwhile, the increasing concen- tier’ research awarded by the European Re-

    tration of greenhouse gases raised concerns search Council2 (ERC).

    I 1 = http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/cooperation/home_en.html

    2 = http://erc.europa.eu/ Research activities on climate change rep- search has focused on the observations and

    resents only a relatively minor part of what simulation of Earth System processes at dif-

    we can name as “climate-related” research. ferent scales, determining and understand-

    In fact, much more has been done in view of ing climate variations of the past, as well as

    developing a low carbon economy, through on the production of reliable projections of

    activities funded by the Framework Pro- future change. The results were used in the

    gramme notably in the areas of energy, IPCC reports and other assessments sup-

    transport, agriculture, industrial and infor- porting decision-making and have provided

    mation technologies which contribute to the information of great value for many so-

    identification and development of mitigation cio-economic sectors across Europe. Studies

    options through progress on energy efficien- of single or combined critical ocean/atmo-

    cy, renewable energy, low carbon manufac- sphere/land interactions have been conduct-

    turing processes and more environmentally ed in different climate regions (e.g. Arctic,

    friendly transport systems. Mediterranean, North Atlantic) in Europe and

    worldwide. Whenever significant, focus has

    International cooperation has been an im- been given to processes affecting reversibil-

    portant element of FP7. Participation in FP7 ity and triggering abrupt changes. Substantial

    was in fact open to all countries worldwide, improvements in the Earth system models

    with many Third countries (especially de- have allowed to obtain more accurate climate

    veloping ones and those with economies in projections at seasonal-to-decadal time

    transition) also eligible for funding. For the scales, and to reduce uncertainties in the pre-

    projects presented in this catalogue, partic- diction of climate change for future decades.

    ipation of institutions from non-European

    countries amount to approximately 9,5% of Robust and long-term climate observations

    the total number of project partners, while fi- are crucial to the production and validation

    nancial contribution from FP7 to these coun- of reliable predictions. It is an essential part

    tries represent even 14% of total spending. of the EU’s research policy to support infra-

    Key participating countries in this domain structures and their European and global

    include China, India, Brazil, Russia, USA, Can- integration. Networks of autonomous (EU-

    ada, South Africa, and Japan. RO-ARGO) or manned monitoring platforms

    (EURO-Fleets, ACTRIS) provide baseline

    Six research areas have been covered in this climate data as well as process studies. Sup-

    catalogue: port for networking, trans-national access

    and joint research has improved the perfor-

    1. Climate observation, processes and pro- mance of distributed stations like InterAct,

    jections a circumpolar net of research facilities for

    2. The carbon and nitrogen cycles and green- monitoring change in Arctic terrestrial eco-

    house gas emissions systems. FP7 also supported the preparation

    and implementation of essential infrastruc-

    3. Atmospheric pollution and climate inter-

    tures identified in the ESFRI3 roadmap, like


    IAGOS (In-service Aircraft for a Global Ob-

    4. Climate change impacts serving System), ICOS, the Integrated Car-

    5. Climate related natural hazards and ex- bon Observing System, and the Svalbard

    treme events Integrated Observing System (SIOS). These

    6. Climate change adaptation, mitigation and efforts, as well as dedicated projects focus-

    relevant policies sing for example on the oxygen depletion

    in the ocean (HYPOX) or capacity building

    (GEONETCAB), have contributed to the set-

    Climate observation, processes and

    up of the Global Earth Observation System


    of Systems (GEOSS).

    Climate observations and modelling have The ERC grants support frontier research

    been the main research pillars in FP7. Re- projects related to climate science, with

    II 3 = European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures focus on various aspects like biosphere-cli- The carbon and nitrogen cycles and

    mate interaction or the formation of small greenhouse gas emissions

    particles (aerosol) and clouds in the atmo-

    sphere. Several ERC projects attempt to Research on carbon cycle and other green-

    improve the reconstruction of atmospheric house gases has been an important com-

    CO2 concentrations, carbon cycling or tem- ponent in FP7 in order to fill key knowledge

    peratures thousands - or even millions - of gaps. Research actions have mainly focused

    years back in time which are fundamental on providing an improved quantitative as-

    for better projecting future change. sessment of the sources and sinks of carbon

    and/or nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems in

    Critical aspects of climate modelling such Europe and the Atlantic Ocean, assessing

    as missing or lacking understanding of key their vulnerability to climate change and

    processes in the atmosphere and the ocean human activities and better quantifying the

    have been successfully addressed via proj- impact of elevated carbon concentrations

    ects such as COMBINE (inclusion of pro- to ecosystems, such as ocean acidifica-

    cesses such as C-and N-cycle, sea-ice and tion. This effort led to the establishment of

    permafrost) and EUCLIPSE (cloud model- high-quality, long-term observation systems

    ling), respectively. They offered new evalua- and to the development of state-of-the-art

    tion tools and climate simulations in support models that accurately capture carbon-cli-

    of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). mate interactions. Results have contributed

    These projects, as well as the climate model- to key international scientific assessments

    ling community in general, profited from the (e.g. IPCC) and programmes (Global Carbon

    EU support to the e infrastructure for the Eu- Project). Furthermore, particular emphasis

    ropean Network for Earth System Modelling was given to vulnerable ecosystems with

    (IS-ENES). high carbon and/or nitrogen content such a

    permafrost soils and tropical forests.

    Ocean acidification is one of the most critical

    aspects of the continuously increasing CO2 Another lighthouse project is NITROEUROPE

    concentrations in the atmosphere, due its which addressed the major question of what

    severe impacts on the ocean ecosystem. The is the effect of reactive nitrogen (Nr) supply

    EPOCA project, a major contributor to AR5, on net greenhouse gas budgets for Europe.

    has generated key information on ocean The project provided key elements to answer

    acidification including the rate at which it this question:

    proceeds and the hotspots where critical - A comprehensive new European Nitrogen

    pH values will be reached first. It assessed Budget (for EU27);

    the consequences of ocean acidification in - A more accurate estimate of the various

    terms of biodiversity, ecosystem services, war ming and cooling effects of Nr man-

    biogeochemical processes and feedbacks on agement in Europe;

    the climate system, and identified the most - A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis;

    vulnerable ecosystems. - An assessment of management options

    for more efficient management of the

    Another major achievement is the launch of nitrogen cycle, with recommendations to

    “European climate observations, modelling reduce the climate warming effects of Nr

    and services” (ECOMS) initiative focusing on losses and the provision of evidence base

    seasonal-to-decadal predictions and the de- for the design of environmental policies.

    livery of trustworthy climate information to

    stakeholders. ECOMS integrates three major

    projects respectively dealing with observa- Atmospheric pollution and climate

    tions (NACLIM), climate modelling (SPECS) interactions

    and climate services (EUPORIAS) and is a

    key European contribution to the WMO Glob- FP7 has significantly contributed to advance

    al Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). the understanding of the complex changes

    III in the composition of the atmosphere and tribution to the review of the EU’s air poli-

    the impact they have on the environment. cies due in 2013 through the publication of

    Research efforts have focussed on providing a summary of policy-relevant findings that

    sound scientific basis to combat the adverse was presented at the ‘2013 Green Week’ in

    effects we are facing, namely the warming Brussels.

    of the climate and the negative impact on

    health and ecosystems associated to air pol-

    lution. Results have contributed to the revi- Climate change impacts

    sion and implementation of EU Air policy and

    to reduce the uncertainties in the climate Climate projections indicate that our envi-

    models, in particular by better understanding ronment and society can be significantly af-

    the role of atmospheric aerosols and other fected in the medium to long-term. Impacts

    short lived pollutants and their precursors across the globe will be diverse, posing se-

    (including nitrogen oxides, volatile organ- vere challenges but also sometimes creat-

    ic compounds, sulphate, and black carbon). ing opportunities. They can span a variety

    Particular attention has also been given to of sectors, including agriculture, the water

    the development of integrated assessment cycle, land cover and vegetation, ecosys-

    tools for the design of emission abatement tems, the marine environment, health, etc.

    strategies taking into consideration relevant Climate change impacts concern not only the

    socio-economic aspects. natural environment, but also peoples’ liveli-

    hoods, and will challenge our socio-econom-

    The RECONCILE project is studying the de- ic system and structures. Relevant research

    pletion of ozone layer through dedicated seeks to assess the level and magnitude of

    laboratory and field measurements, work- potential impacts, to help us identify the ex-

    ing to improve model representations which tent and likelihood of expected changes. On

    can simulate and predict current and future the one hand, this information helps us un-

    Arctic stratospheric ozone loss. This project derstand our vulnerabilities and adaptation

    contributed to the observation and expla- needs; on the other, it also informs climate

    nation of the first ever Arctic ozone hole in policies, by identifying critical thresholds and

    2011 when an area of very low stratospheric tipping points for our ecosystems and econ-

    ozone concentration, comparable to the loss omies.

    observed every year over Antarctica, oc-

    curred over the Arctic. The Impact2C project integrates the expertise

    of top climate scientists, impact specialists

    Air quality and climate change have tradi- with both scientific and economic backgrounds,

    tionally been viewed separately by scientists and local specialists from specific regions un-

    and politicians alike. Breaking with this tradi- der study. All are working to deliver maximum

    tion, the FP7 PEGASOS project assesses the support on the development of sectoral and

    impacts of European air pollution on climate cross-sectoral pan-European strategies for

    change and vice versa by combining field adapting to a 2°C global temperature rise.

    measurements at different heights with state

    of the art atmospheric and climate models. In addition to global impact assessments,

    Thanks to the unique flight characteristics of several FP7 projects have dealt with cli-

    the Zeppelin airship used by the project, the mate change impacts on specific sectors

    scientists had an unprecedented view of how and vulnerability hotspots. Among these, the

    pollution is distributed in the lowest one or CLIWASEC cluster, formed by the CLIMB,

    two kilometers of the atmosphere over Eu- WASSERMed and CLICO projects, focused

    rope. It is in this layer of the atmosphere that on water security in the Mediterranean re-

    most pollutants emitted on the ground react gion. The projects have provided a better

    with other atmospheric compounds. understanding of the hydrological budget

    and potential changes in the water balance

    PEGASOS, with other 20 projects related of specific catchments, and of more global

    to air quality, provided a very valuable con- impacts on key economic sectors and activi-

    IV ties. The ACQWA project focused on chang- Urban areas of European countries face in-

    es in the water cycle of mountain regions, creasing flood risks due to urbanisation and

    which can have huge implications both for the effects of climate change. The STAR-

    local economies and for downstream areas. FLOOD project focuses on the development

    In Europe, the project studied the Rhone (CH/ and implementation of appropriate and

    FR) and the Po catchment (IT). Results from resilient flood risk governance arrange-

    the project indicate a future decline in alpine ments in Europe, whereas FLOODCHANGE

    snow cover, as well as an increase in extreme investigates the drivers of flood generation.

    precipitation events. Relevant impacts, in This is assumed to require a diversification

    terms of climate-driven hazards, forests, of Flood Risk Management Strategies – in-

    hydropower generation, agriculture, tourism cluding flood defence, pro-active spatial

    and aquatic ecosystems were studied exten- planning, flood mitigation, flood preparation

    sively to provide a comprehensive overview and recovery.

    of future risks.

    Flash floods present a challenge for early

    The Ice2sea project set the challenge of re- warning systems, since heavy rainfalls are

    ducing uncertainty in the contribution of gla- hard to be forecasted with high accuracy

    ciers and ice-sheets to sea-level rise, which and enough anticipation to allow efficient

    the last IPCC report identified as a key prob- decision and risk management support.

    lem in projections. Over the past four years Research carried out under the European

    project IMPRINTS has, however, produced

    a team of scientists from 24 institutions

    the first Early Warning operational platform

    have worked together to find out how i.e.

    able to provide hydrological warnings based

    the Greenland ice-sheet responds to global

    on the rainfall forecasted by meteorological

    warming. Based on observations and ad-

    models (few days in advance) and by weath-

    vanced computer simulations they forecast-

    er radar networks (few hours in advance).

    ed how much ice the Greenland and Antarctic

    The platform is able to transform the antici-

    glaciers will release to the ocean within the

    pation provided by the rainfall forecasts into

    next 200 years. The project provided a de-

    hydrological forecasts, and also to combine

    tailed global map of the non-uniform con-

    these hydrometeorological forecasts with

    tribution of the glaciers to sea level rise and

    the available information about vulnerabil-

    thus a sound scientific foundation for policy

    ity and flooding risks, providing a full Early

    development surrounding sea-level rise and

    Warning System for Flash Flood and Debris

    the best possible basis for European coastal

    Flow risk management.

    defense planning.

    The enhanced understanding of drought pro-

    cesses and their impacts is another key area

    Climate related natural hazards and

    where FP7 funded research contributes. Rel-

    extreme events

    evant early warning indicators, assessment

    of drought risks and potential damages are

    Managing future risks related to climate particularly challenging to address, given

    change and developing strategies for di- the complexity of the phenomenon, such as

    saster risk reduction need to take into slow onset, the diverse impacts depending

    account the possible risk drivers. Antic- on the geoclimatic region and socio-eco-

    ipating, preventing, limiting the impacts nomic context, and the very different levels

    and managing these threats will contrib- of preparedness and coping capacity. The

    ute to a safer and more resilient society. Drought-R&SPI project seeks to better

    The projects presented in this publication characterise past and future droughts in Eu-

    illustrate some examples of the on-going rope, both as natural hazards and in terms

    interdisciplinary research collaboration of their impacts. It actively works for devel-

    that is addressing the challenges societies oping a successful science-policy interface,

    and populations will have to face with cli- which is providing support to a number of EU

    mate-related hazards. policies.


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