August 3, 2022 — The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) this year obtained 5 million euros (5.07 million dollars) of European funds in competition with other international institutions to finance five new research projects aimed at studying the processes linked to climate change and its effects on health , society and the environment. The projects will be managed by the Department of Earth Sciences of the BSC, an international reference in the study of climate prediction and evolution, atmospheric composition and the development of climate and air quality services. ‘air.
Currently, the BSC is working on 56 projects related to climate change and its impact on society, generating essential information for key socio-economic sectors particularly affected by climate variability, such as agriculture, energy, management water or health. Likewise, the Department of Earth Sciences makes important contributions to understanding and reducing the effects of extreme weather events such as droughts, hurricanes, floods, and heat waves.
A significant part of these initiatives, including the five recently funded projects, aim to develop what are known as climate services, scientific evidence-based solutions designed so that society can better mitigate or adapt to the effects of climate change. Thanks to mathematical models capable of representing the Earth system and the supercomputing capabilities of the BSC, scientists can predict future climate conditions over different time horizons, from weeks to decades, facilitating decision-making in climate-vulnerable sectors. .
“Climate services provide relevant climate information for different sectors taking into account their needs and the context in which they use it. This information is co-designed and co-produced with users, using the most appropriate climate data sources, as well as a combination of the most relevant technological and social science developments. The climate information generated, when developed in close collaboration with those who will use it and taking into account their values and power relations, is the most useful way to support climate change adaptation strategies and climate change mitigation,” says ICREA Professor Francisco Doblas, head of BSC’s Department of Earth Sciences.
Research to capture CO2 from the atmosphere or to address health threats posed by climate change
Among the five new projects awarded by the European Commission, all linked to the development of climate services, two are carried out by the BSC. RESCUE (acronym for Response of the Earth System to overshoot, Climate neUtrality and negative Emissions), funded to the tune of eight million euros, of which the BSC receives 1.3 million, aims to study new strategies to capture carbon dioxide atmosphere and thus reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, those that contribute to global warming. The response of the climate and the Earth system to a possible stabilization of temperatures following a reduction in emissions will also be studied in this project.
The second new project led by the BSC is Climateurope2, financed to the tune of 8.7 million euros, of which the BSC receives 1.7 million. The main objective of the project is to connect and support the community working on the development of climate services in Europe, as well as to promote the standardization of processes to establish good practices that guarantee user confidence in the services being developed. . Under the leadership of the BSC, Climateurope2 has the participation of 31 European institutions, some of which are as remarkable as the British Met Office or the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).
The BSC also participates as a partner in three other European projects which provide a total of two million additional euros. Two of them, CATALYZE (Climate Action To Advance HeaLthY Societies in Europe) and IDAlert (Infectious Disease decision-support tools and Alert systems to build climate Resilience to emergent health Threats), aim to strengthen Europe’s capacity to in the face of emerging threats to humans. health posed by climate change.
“One of the goals we have set ourselves for the coming years is to study the relationship between climate and health. We have just gone through a major heat wave and we know that high temperatures have a direct effect on people’s health, especially in urban areas due to what is called the heat island effect”, explains Albert Soret. , leader of the Earth System Services group at BSC, an interdisciplinary team that develops tools and methodologies in collaboration with end users to improve decision-making in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“In addition, indirectly, climate change involves other threats, such as the spread to new territories of infectious diseases transmitted to humans by vectors such as mosquitoes or ticks”, explains Rachel Lowe, professor at the ICREA and leader of the Global Health Resilience team, which studies the impact of global environmental changes on the risk of infectious diseases. Lowe is also executive director of Lancet Countdown in Europe, a cross-disciplinary collaboration that monitors progress on health and climate change on the continent, to which CATALYZE and IDAlert will contribute.
The third project in which BSC is a partner, called FOCI (Non-CO2 Forcers and their Climate, Weather, Air Quality and Health Impacts), will study the climate and health impact of pollutants other than carbon dioxide, such as particles ( PM2.5 and PMten), ozone or methane.
“BSC has been conducting research on climate services for years. Over time and with the interdisciplinary approach it has adopted, which combines technology, climate sciences and social sciences in the same environment, it has become a key player at European level. The alignment of these projects represents a unique opportunity for the BSC, and for Spain, to study the development of services that respond to the climate challenge we face. They will allow us to continue research at the highest level on, among other things, how to develop global climate models that meet the needs of a wide range of users with whom the BSC has interacted with an approach that puts their needs at the center of our interest”, concludes Francisco Doblas.