Extreme weather and climate events are increasingly happening worldwide due to ongoing climate change. As a consequence, hydro-meteorological disaster events are affecting the European economy, environment and society, causing loss of properties and livelihoods, affecting wellbeing, and threatening lives. Special concern is for the eco-agricultural systems, which are at the basis of food production and distribution, livelihood assets and human health in both rural and urban areas. These areas are subjected to water stress, higher incidence and intensity of pests and diseases, due to climate change, which likely may cause additional crises in agricultural production. Therefore, management of agriculture should consider climate-related impacts in a watershed perspective, to maintain key functions of the agroecosystem, such as nutrient and water cycles, pest and disease control, pollination and land-erosion control.
Climate services involve the generation, provision and contextualization of information and knowledge derived from climate research for decision making at all levels of society.
The Global Framework for Climate Services, an UN-led initiative spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), was launched at the World Climate Conference 3 in September 2009 to guide the development and application of science-based climate information and services in support of decision-making in climate sensitive sectors. More recently, in Europe, the Copernicus program was launched, consisting of a complex set of systems, which collects data from multiple sources: earth observation satellites and in situ sensors as ground stations, and airborne and seaborne sensors. Meanwhile, several countries and organizations have started developing climate services to further predict the future impacts of climate variability, and apply climate predictions for different sectors, such as tourism, agriculture and water.
As the threats posed by climate change rise, social pressures may act in the direction of altering catchment properties to mitigate the impacts. Amongst these, an increased use of drains to face larger storm events, or more intense irrigation to face severe droughts, may have large impacts. These actions may ultimately lead to changes in land-use practices affecting water flow budgets and water quality in riverine landscapes. In the case of floods, moving from “flood control” to “Integrated Flood Management” can constitute a paradigm shift by integrating land and water resources development in a river basin by maximizing the benefits from the use of floodplains and minimizing the losses from flooding. On the other extreme, droughts can be seen as a slow-onset hazard, whose effects slowly accumulate over a long period of time. Responses to drought have been mostly reactive, by adopting crisis management approach. This approach is, however, ineffective in most cases mainly, because it does not reduce the associated risks. It is essential to define a risk-based approach to respond to drought, based on well-established national drought policies and preparedness plans. Improving the level of preparedness for drought will result in a reduction in vulnerability of the agricultural and rural society.
Duration: 3 years; Start date: Nov 1st 2017; End date: October 30th 2020; Budget: XX €.
The CLIMALERT project is being carried out by a multidisciplinary team. Experts in climate and hydrological research (IPMA and UFZ), together with relevant stakeholders, will define a set of indicators to be used for the development of the early warning system (climate monitoring). Experts in Information and Communication Technology (www.algoritmi.uminho.pt) and Electronics (www.mems.dei.uminho.pt) at the UMinho will co-develop specific innovative and user-friendly tools (web and mobile apps) able to quickly alert for proper risk management (co-development of Engineering Tools). A developers and end users framework, led by experts in social sciences (UFZ), will guarantee the sustained dialogue between users and providers throughout the co-production project, especially at each stage of the decision-making process. Experts in biodiversity and ecology at UMinho (www.bma.bio.uminho.pt) and ICRA will assess the benefits that the CLIMALERT tools might have on soil and freshwater ecosystems, with focus on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Finally, experts in the social and economic sciences (UFZ) will evaluate the monetary and non-monetary benefits that relevant stakeholders will receive from the use of the CLIMALERT tools.
The CLIMALERT project emerges to provide climate information in a format that prospective users find it easy to understand and/or incorporate into decision-making. The main goals are: to strengthen the link between climate research, water resources, and agriculture to assist in the management of natural resources, enhance agricultural livelihoods and reduce underlying causes of vulnerability; to improve the techniques and tools currently used to incorporate weather and climate information into the assessment of risks and decision making in agriculture management practices; and to contribute to a global framework to improve the transfer and exchange of information on weather forecasts together with near-real satellite time observations to help decision makers in applying adaptation and mitigation strategies.