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A Europe-South America Network for Climate Change Assessment and Impact Studies in La Plata Basin

Periodic Report Summary 2 - CLARIS LPB (A Europe-South America network for climate change assessment and impact studies in La Plata Basin)

Project context and objectives:

The CLARIS LPB Project aims at projecting the regional climate change impacts in La Plata Basin (LPB) in South Eastern South America focusing on the 2010-2040 and 2070-2100 periods, and at designing adaptation strategies for land-use, agriculture, rural development, hydropower production, river transportation, water resources and ecosystems in wetlands. To reach such objectives, the project gathers more than 190 scientists from various disciplines. Their specific objectives cover a large range of activities:
(i) to improve the description and understanding of decadal climate variability for short-term regional climate change projections (2010-2040);
(ii) to improve the prediction capacity of climate change and its impacts in the region, through an ensemble of coordinated regional climate scenarios in order to quantify the amplitude and sources of uncertainties in LPB future climate at two time horizons: 2010-2040 for adaptation strategies and 2070-2100 for assessment of long-range impacts;
(iii) to design adaptation strategies to regional scenarios of climate change impacts through a multi-disciplinary research;
(iv) to involve and integrate stakeholders in the design of adaptation strategies through an interactive and communicative process, ensuring their dissemination to public, private and governmental policy-makers;
(v) to foster long-term collaborations between European and South American partners (sustained beyond the project lifetime);
(vi) to train young scientists in South American and European institutes.

Project results:

During the first two periods (36 months) of the project, the activities were organised along the following lines:
(i) communication, dissemination and interaction with stakeholders;
(ii) climate data processing and analysis, and modelling studies; and
(iii) coordination and initiation of agriculture and hydrology studies.

Communication and dissemination activities fostered the multidisciplinary interactions between the partners and the integration of stakeholders. The exchange grant system implemented at the beginning of the project allowed to funding thirty exchanges between partners, most of then allocated to young scientists. In addition, thirty-eight students were funded to attend CLARIS LPB meetings. Other related activities were:
a) the implementation of the web portal for communication and data access;
b) the development of a software architecture for implementing applications freely accessed by all the partners;
c) the development of a method for the combination of multi-model climate simulations;
d) the evaluation of a questionnaire for the agriculture and hydrology study partners on needs of climate, biogeophysical and socio-economic data. Moreover, various workshops with stakeholders allowed to better understating their needs and to improving their understanding of the climate change issues and potential impacts on their sector and on their lives.

Climate studies focused on:
(i) compiling an unprecedented amount of daily past climate observations from thousands of meteorological stations in order to analyze, quality-control and grid these data for our objectives;
(ii) investigating the mechanisms involved in the decadal variability using observations and global models;
(iii) evaluating the skill of IPCC global models in simulating present climate variability investigating different time and space scales;
(iii) performing a coordinated ensemble of regional simulations of the present climate using ERA interim boundary conditions; and
(iv) studying extreme events, their relationship with large-scale mechanisms and those most relevant for the agriculture and hydrology sectors.

In terms of agriculture and hydrology studies, all groups agreed upon the use of the Driver-pressure-state-impact-response (DPSIR) framework to share their activities and methodologies.

In terms of agriculture, two study sites were defined in Brazil, and three in Argentina, comprising small and large-scale farmers. The performed territorial scan will allow to identifying a farm typology, and to comparing land use and tenancy. Almost all partners are interacting with stakeholders at different levels from farmers to policy makers. Also, a series of dissemination activities have been undertaken, including our participation (twice) at Expodireto, an agricultural fair in Brazil, which received about 170 000 visitors.

Finally, the hydrological studies covered many activities. First, two distributed hydrological models were set up, and one was applied to the Iberá ecosystem. In parallel, most of our activities were dedicated to data collection:
(i) an inventory of floods in the Argentine part of LPB was carried out as a step toward the climate change impact assessment on Lower Paraná water-way for oceanic boat navigation, on Buenos Aires urbanisation beside delta front, and on manmade structure near river banks;
(ii) a GIS database of LPB has been elaborated, in which the river system, hydrological stations, hydropower reservoirs, etc. are represented;
(iii) a digital elevation model has been created; and
(iv) a numerical tool was applied to evaluate the maximum potential hydropower in several sub-basins of LPB.

All these activities allow the project now to focus on 21st century projections of climate, agriculture and hydrology conditions, and to initiate the design of adaptation strategies with stakeholders focusing on their vulnerability.

Potential impact:

The main expected result after the four years of CLARIS LPB is the dissemination of adaptation strategies (specifically designed for land-use, agriculture production, rural development -small farmers-, hydropower, flood risk, wetland ecosystems, river navigation, and near-river urbanisation) based on analyses of vulnerability and on ensembles of probable climate change scenarios.

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