CLEAR - Climate and Environment in Alpine Regions

Background and Goals

The project is a transdisciplinary study of the consequences of climate-related changes in the Alpine region. In this, it spans research areas of the technical, environmental and social sciences. The project is divided into five project groups. The first four of these groups operate at disciplinary interfaces, while the fifth group is concerned with integrated assessment

  1. The atmospheric/hydrological interface
  2. The palaeoclimatology interface
  3. The climate/ecology interface;
  4. The climate/economy interface;
  5. The integrated assessment pivot with model tools, focus groups, and policy options.

Objectives of the project

  1. create a better understanding of the issues associated with the climate change, especially in terms of their complexity and uncertainty,
  2. deliver a range of state-of-the-art modelling-tools,
  3. develop an overall methodology for integrated climate risk assessments using focus groups and computer models, and
  4. provide policy-relevant information on response strategies and a mechanism for testing likely measures before policy implementation.

Content time

to

Research area/region

Country
  • Swiss
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Bavaria
Natural spatial classification
  • Alp and North Bavarian hills
  • Alps
  • Alpine Foothills

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Regional climate models are used for regional climate projections and climate sensitivity, which serve as a dynamic tool for the evaluation of possible 2xCO2 scenarios for the Alpine region. Bioclimatic scenarios are created for assessing the forest ecosystems.

Further Parameters 

physical aspects of the climate system including atmospheric, hydrological and oceanographic aspects

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The consequences for forest ecosystems, plant species, and soil in the subalpine zone are considered. To this end, the sensitivity of the ecosystems and their responses to the climate change are examined. The economic impact on agriculture and tourism, and economic opportunities for industry through technological change, which result from rising energy costs or changes in consumer behaviour, are also analysed.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The aim is to provide relevant information on adaptation measures for policy-makers. This is to be achieved with the aid of suitable models that can be used by non-scientists, an improved risk communication, an increase in the acceptance of measures, the development of new policy tools for public participation, and an effective use of resources in research policy.

Moreover, the public is to be better informed about the climate change and consequences. To this end, the following independent Internet portals will be developed and linked:

1. "Impacts": an interactive information system for risk assessment of the climate change in the Alpine region;

2. "ECO2 Calculator": Program for calculating private CO2 emissions and energy consumption;

3. "Options": Measures to counteract global warming with a description of ways to arrive at a low-energy society as a model for discussing options for Switzerland relating to the climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption;

4. "SURE?": decision support tool in the form of an interactive learning module about uncertainties in scientific research results.

A further aim is the development of an ""integrated environmental assessment"" (IEA) methodology: It bridges the gap between science and society and is intended to ensure that scientific policy advice reaches the social and political reality, and that political and social discourse on current scientific findings is up-to-date. One of its important functions is to point out residual uncertainties that limit the reliability and validity of climate projections. Identifying and communicating residual uncertainties is one of the most important responsibilities of the scientific community towards the general public and poses no mean challenge.

Time horizon
  • 2071–2100 (far future)

Participants

Funding / Financing 

Swiss National Science Foundation

Project management 

Eawag (Swiss)

Cooperation/Partners 

International cooperation with IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme), IHDP (Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme), WCRP (World Climate Research Programme) and IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

Contact

Eawag - Wasserforschungs-Institut (Schweiz)
Überlandstrasse 133
CH-8600 Dübendorf

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  energy sector  soil  tourism industry