WP4 aims at assessing the impacts of Climate Change through the development of a trans-disciplinary framework in order to analyse complex interactions among connected systems. This framework will allow setting up a chain linking the large-scale effects of Climate Change to their local and sectorial effects, going from global and regional climate models to physically based, biological and ecological impact models. Such approach allows for the identification, testing, and prioritisation of adaptation and policy options that increase resilience and exploit opportunities for growth. WP4 will characterise Climate Change-induced modifications of the local environment of islands, which are affected by far more processes than those accounted for in deriving coarser estimates at the global or national scales. As a matter of fact, they often occur on such a broad temporal spectrum as to challenge both current predictive skills and our ability to soundly assess key vulnerabilities. Actual impacts crucially depend on the occasional superposition of transitory fluctuations or exceptional extreme events onto mean trends and low frequency variability, whose magnitude and effects need to be projected via high resolution and/or locally calibrated models that, although varying in complexity and focus, all respond to prescribed Climate Change scenarios. In order to produce Climate Change projections that are consistent with local impacts evaluations, WP4 will make use of state-of-the art regional simulations that are detailed enough to avoid inconsistencies between scales, thus preserving both the spatial coherence of circulation structures (e.g. the frequency and pattern of low-pressure systems or the spatial distribution of ocean density structures or ocean currents) and the significance of the information fed to hierarchically subordinate models. The impact models used will cover both the regional and local scales, and will define risk and vulnerability indexes that are specific to the particular geography and context, in collaboration with WP3.
Climate modelling activities
The programmed activities aim at exploiting and broadening the available database of climate simulations over the regions of interest, in order to support and improve the assessment of Climate Change impacts on the sensitive environment of the selected islands. Regional information will be tailored to its subsequent use in driving impact models.
Global warming impacts induce costly alterations in the environment, such as increased coastal flooding, longer fire season and more damaging wildfires, more frequent heat waves, biodiversity loss, plant and animal range shifts, ecological disruptions. Impact modelling activities will make use of single component models providing projections of specific environmental modifications for the selected islands, focusing on:
- Ocean waves and storm surges
- Morphodynamics and beach evolution
- Ecosystem functions delivered by seagrass meadows, including marine biodiversity preservation
- Stress exerted on endemic species
As many of the test islands selected for SOCLIMPACT are located in the Mediterranean basin, evenly distributed from West to East, and can be expected to mirror at least part of the climatological characteristics of the surrounding coasts, partners will verify whether such elementary homogeneous units can actually be individuated for this region.
As a first step, climate data for candidate areas will be separately grouped according to similarities in seasonal patterns and in long-term variability, and the differences and analogies between the two clusters will be analysed to assess the feasibility and limitations of such approach in climate-related monitoring and management. Additional information, both quantitative and qualitative, from stakeholders from coastal regions can better guide the exercise, by helping define relevant parameters and practical purposes, and highlight needs for adjustment. Zonation is not expected to provide a sole source of information for policy guidance, but to complement other sources in a mixed method approach, that can be further exported to different European coasts, provided sufficient data is made available. This technique will allow to transfer climate change impacts on islands to all coastal areas in Europe.