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Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East – Climate and Atmosphere Research Centre

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EMME-CARE (Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East – Climate and Atmosphere Research Centre)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2020-11-30

Cyprus and the wider Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region have been identified as a global air pollution and climate change “hot spot”, and the region is already facing adverse impacts ranging from extreme weather events to poor air quality. If no action is taken, harmful effects will intensify and could soon lead to intolerable environmental conditions, ultimately compromising human habitability and forcing mass migration in the region. “EMME-CARE” addresses these risks through a combination of research, innovation and education activities with a regional focus.
In establishing the new Center of Excellence, CARE-C, the CyI joined forces with world-leading institutes: the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and the University of Helsinki, that are acting as its “Advanced Partners”. CARE-C capitalizes on the strategic location of Cyprus to create a link between Europe and EMME, acting as a knowledge hub for environmental and climate change research and fostering the creation of innovative and sustainable solutions that can help address the challenges faced.
To achieve this, the CoE’s international research teams of top scientists and technical experts initiate long-term environmental observations and computer-based modelling and predictions of the regional atmospheric environment and underlying climate change impacts. The data and knowledge created feeds into multi- and cross-disciplinary research addressing societal climate-driven challenges in the region related to public health, waning water resources, and economic sectors such as agriculture and energy. In turn, these will inform the creation of strategies and action plans specifically tailored to the needs of the EMME, thus building regional capacity, fostering sustainable development, and adapting with the speed required to minimize damaging effects of climate change, ultimately mitigating its causes and impacts.
Beyond contributing to the broadening of knowledge within the academic community through research and the provision of post-graduate degree programmes, CARE-C also firmly focuses on supporting public bodies in the definition and implementation of national action plans to mitigate air pollution and its effects on climate change. Specifically, through supporting the “Cyprus Climate Change Initiative” led by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, CARE-C cooperates with national and international networks of academics for coordinating actions in the region, to inform decision-making and instigate scientifically informed action at the policy level. The CoE also focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation with a view of identifying promising commercial research applications and creating environmental solutions that contribute to the sustainable economic growth of Cyprus in a highly competitive international environment.
Work within the First Reporting Period (01/09/2019 – 30/11/2020) accomplished all foreseen Deliverables and important Milestones. Major highlights are summarized below:
- Fully operational at M5 (Jan.2020)
- Successful recruitments of research/ technical staff and international talents, already reaching 7-year objective of 100 staff
- Major success in competitive funds (ca. 2.7M€ in 2020) from international calls (H2020, ESA) and tenders (Copernicus, World Bank)
- Scientific/technical support to Cypriot Government Ministries, for compliance to EU directives and International Agreements (e.g. UNFCCC)
- Collaborations with top regional research organizations (Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar)
- Scientific Coordination of the Cyprus Climate Change Initiative, led by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, entailing 13 Task-Forces of regional and international experts
- 100 publications (in peer-review journals) since CoE establishment
- 5 Joint PhD with EMME-CARE Advanced Partners and top European universities (e.g. University Paris-Saclay)
- >2M€ investment in state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation dedicated to Air Pollution and GHG measurements in Cyprus and the EMME
- Development of competitive Atmospheric Monitoring Facilities providing merit-based TransNational Access in the framework of EU Research Infrastructure (e.g. ACTRIS)
- First ever column-integrated GHG observations in EMME, in collaboration with CEA (France), University of Bremen (Germany), and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (USA) to calibrate/validate the OCO-2 satellite that measures CO2 from space
- Partnerships with key industrial leaders (France, Finland, Slovenia) for the test/improvement of new generation of air quality/GHG sensors.
- New technological developments: ultra-light/resistant UAV, UAV-balloon systems profiling the entire troposphere (0-10km) for calibration/validation of the ESA Aeolus Satellite, and construction/validation of a reliable low-cost ‘dust’ sensor.
- First ever High spatial resolution model for the forecast of Air Quality in Cyprus for a better adaptation of EMME-regional transport of air pollution and dust.
EMME-CARE Environmental Observations leveraged the strategic location of Cyprus to play a key role in many international networks (WMO-GAW, NASA-AERONET, TCCON) that monitor the composition of the atmosphere and the perturbation of our climate due to human activities. Our continuous atmospheric monitoring is the first of its kind in the region, and already provides essential information on the major natural/anthropogenic sources contributing to the poor air quality of EMME cities and the warming regional climate.
The “Cyprus Atmospheric Observatory” performs the first continuous measurements of key climate-forcers in Cyprus (GHG, Reactive Gases, Aerosols), following Standard Operating Procedures of EU Research Infrastructures (ACTRIS, ICOS). The “Environmental Chemistry Laboratory” is the only accredited Laboratory in Cyprus to provide high quality (ultra-trace) chemical analyses of Air Pollution in compliance with EU Air Quality directives. The “Instrumentation Laboratory” exploits recent advances in Nanotechnology and is building its first low-cost miniature sensors ready for commercialization. The “Unmanned System Research Laboratory” operates a large fleet of drones used in several programs funded by ESA to calibrate/validate satellite (dust) products and to support public/private customers in drone-based environmental monitoring.
EMME-CARE Environmental Predictions are fed by a new generation of Atmospheric transport models, space and ground-based observations, and atmospheric inversion models to simulate meteorological conditions, atmospheric concentrations, quantify emissions and assess multi-year trends of Air Pollutants and GHG in the EMME. These model developments have enabled EMME-CARE to support today the Cypriot Government (and tomorrow many governments of the EMME) for the monitoring/reporting/verification of national air pollutants and GHG emissions in compliance with international agreements (UNFCCC). They have allowed to launch recently the first Air Quality Forecasting Model for Cyprus and further extend it to EMME, and they also put EMME-CARE at the forefront of regional climate projections (MENA-CORDEX) with very high spatial resolution to enable for better mitigation/adaptation.
EMME-CARE Scientific Instrumentation (TCCON station)
EMME-CARE conducts first ever GHGs profiling over the EMME – taken during campaign at 32km altitude
Public webinar by EMME-CARE Coordinator on airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2
"Prof.Lelieveld key contributor in paper on health impacts of air pollution (#72 in Altmetric 2019)"
Images from EMME-CARE Research Infrastructure
Cairo during the EMME-CARE Campaign
Testing of new UAV-Balloon system
Hosting of ACTRIS IMP kick-off meeting in Larnaca, Cyprus
CARE-C research published in the Regional Environmental Journal