ACT Newsletter - Adapting to Climate change in Time

State of the art review - Executive summary

The baseline climate scenario for the target areas of the Life “Act” project (Ancona, Bullas, Patras) can be determined by the current climate trends estimate and the climate model projections.
The first is based on the analysis of time series of meteorological observations representative of the locations under investigation, and by the application of statistical models for trend recognition and assessment. Instrumental climate time series are also necessary for the assessment of climate models' skills and consequently for tuning the adaptation strategies. The capabilities of medium and long term climate projections are based on dynamical climate models: high resolution global models (GCM) and/or regional models (RCM) nested on GCM in order to get more specific predictions at continental and sub-continental scale.
As regards the trend analysis, daily mean temperature series since 1973 was available for the Ancona Falconara meteorological station. The raw data underwent a quality control procedure and a homogeneity test, in order to filter non-climatic signals from the series. Then, the trend assessment was performed on the seasonal series, using the Mann-Kendall test. The results show that a significant, increasing temperature trend, characterises all seasons except winter. The summer series shows the highest increase, at a rate of 0.06 ± 0.011 °C/year. As regards the precipitation time series, the analysis of the seasonal series did not indicate significant trend in any season except winter, when a significant weak decrease was identified. A weak but statistically significant decrease (-10.43 ± 3.41 mm/year) characterises the annual series as well.
In order to get climate model projections for the target areas (Ancona, Bullas, Patras), gridded fields of predicted temperature and precipitation from three RCM and two high-resolution GCM were downloaded, and data for the grid points representative of the target areas were extracted. RCM results are available only for the A1B emission scenario (“intermediate” scenario), while GCM results are also available for A2 (pessimistic) and B1 (optimistic) scenarios. Among the most significant results, the three RCM predict a mean temperature increase at 2100 between 3.4°C and 3.7 °C (Ancona), 3,7°C and 4°C (Bullas), and 3,5 and 4,0 °C (Patras). As regards precipitation, RCM predict a reduction of the annual cumulated precipitation at 2100, ranging between -2% and -17% (Ancona), -30% and -39% (Bullas), and -5% and -28% (Patras).
Though many evidences already demonstrate that the Mediterranean Basin is and will be more and more one of the most vulnerable regions in Europe, a lack of Regional and Local Adaptation Strategies (RAS and LAS) is still currently evident. In fact, while Strategies and Plans could be expected mainly from the most vulnerable Southern Europe, the main examples of RAS and LAS in Europe come from Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Sweden, and fewer from the Mediterranean area (i.e. Spain and France).
For the purpose of the project, thirteen guidance documents developed at various governance levels in and outside Europe and thirteen regional and local adaptation strategies and plans developed in Spain were reviewed in order to collect common key features, strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches.
Lessons learned from this review point out that the development of adaptation policies strictly depends on the availability of appropriate scientific information. A major research effort would therefore be needed in order to timely provide a policy-relevant knowledge base. To date there are many uncertainties about the way how climate will change in Europe: climate change adaptation will therefore oblige to take decisions with evolving information and to build an adaptation process flexible to a range of climate change scenarios.
Furthermore, successful adaptation requires a strong stakeholder involvement and communication of information and mainstreaming adaptation into sectoral policies.

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With the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community