Image Credits: Michael D. @Unsplash.

Climate change leads to an increase in extreme weather events and now scientists are working on ways to predict and prepare for them. New research on megastorms provides tools for forecasting their direction and intensity, thus helping communities better prepare for when they hit.


Predicting how extreme weather events such as megastorms will travel and evolve could help save countless lives as it gives communities time to better prepare. With the likelihood of these events increasing due to climate change it is important that effective forecasting systems are developed.

Although it is hard to link single weather events to climate change, there is a scientific consensus that a warming world does make extreme weather events more likely. What is commonly referred to as “extreme event attribution” is the study of the relationship between climate change and weather patterns. When talking about climate change it is important to identify the difference between single weather events and long term trends that give concrete evidence of climate change.

“The association of climate change to single events is tricky” explains Enrico Scoccimarro, Senior Scientist at CMCC, whose main research activity is to investigate the relationship between tropical cyclones and the climate. When talking about extreme weather events, Scoccimarro highlights the importance of drawing conclusions from general trends over long periods of time, rather than identifying evidence for climate change in single weather events. In a recent paper co-authored by Scoccimarro, Heavy precipitation events over East Africa in a changing climatechanges in weather patterns are identified indicating a probable rise in extreme weather events and therefore providing valuable information for the region’s climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

What are the causes?

Research by Carbon Brief indicates that anthropogenic factors are behind the rise in extreme weather events. By looking at over 300 peer-reviewed papers that study how anthropogenic factors have raised the probability of wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons, flooding, and heatwaves occurring.

“Through the attribution studies that have been published so far, scientists found that human-caused climate change has altered the likelihood or severity of an extreme weather event in 78% of cases studied (69% made more severe or likely and 9% made less so)”, reads the Carbon Brief article. Findings that are corroborated by the National Climate Assessment, which also demonstrates that the amount of these events in the USA has increased in both number and strength.

In Japan, similar trends are also visible. Atsushi Goto, Tokyo Climate Center expert for climate change, explains that: “There’s no statistically significant long-term trend in terms of the total annual rainfall amount in Japan, but when we focus on extreme rainfall events, we see a significant long-term increase in the annual number of days with more than 200mm of rain, which we predict will continue steadily or increase more rapidly. The frequency of localized torrential rain events (over 50mm per hour) has also increased since 1975. On the other hand, the annual number of days with precipitation has decreased. This trend indicates the risk of drought will increase in the future, as well as that of landslides and floods. Furthermore, the number of extremely hot days, with a maximum temperature of 35 degrees Celsius is virtually certain to have increased, largely since the mid-1990s.”

Can they be predicted?

Seeing as extreme weather events are only likely to increase in the near future it is important to better prepare for them. This also includes developing a better understanding of when and how they will hit. Japan has recently had a rapid succession of typhoons, with typhoon Haishen striking the country shortly after Maysak. Forecasting systems played an essential role in determining the evacuation of 1.8 million people. “The Japan Metereogical Agency (JMA) provides typhoon forecasts for the next five days – this is the limitation of technology. In the case of Haishen, JMA issued a strong alert five-six days before”, explains Atsushi Goto.

Our results have important implications for nowcasting of severe weather in the Sahel and potentially in other MCS hotspot regions of the world.

UKCEH study

This 5-day warning system allowed for communities to prepare and evacuate; limiting the amount of damage caused. Ensuring a predictive capacity for all types of storms is therefore imperative.

These predictions are not just limited to the pacific region. In the Mediterranean, researchers at the CMCC produced two high-resolution forecasting models that were able to simulate the trajectory of Medicane Ianos, a cyclone that produced intense mesoscale vortices over the Mediterranean Sea and possessed a tropical-like structure even if remaining smaller in size. The forecasting system provided reliable and innovative solutions for coastal storm surge alerts with several days warning, confirming its potential as an effective tool for dealing with similar phenomena in the future.

New research by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), published in the PNAS journal, focuses on predicting storms in the African Sahel region and has made groundbreaking developments that could be applicable elsewhere. The research concentrates on mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) which are a type of complex and largescale “megastorms” that can last for several hours or more but are not quite on the scale of extratropical cyclones. These megastorms affect large parts of the world and can wreak significant damage as it is considered impossible to predict their direction and intensity.

However, the UKCEH study has made significant links between land surface conditions and their impact on the direction and intensity of megastorms after they have formed. This will give scientists extra tools for predicting extreme weather events with more accuracy, thus enabling alert systems for communities across the Sahel region to give up to 6 hour’s notice of an impending storm.  

Lead author Dr Cornelia Klein of UKCEH explains: “It is well known that heat provides thunderstorms with great energy, but it was commonly thought that once they are moving, they were not affected by the state of the ground over which they traveled. However, we found that drier soils increased the intensity of an MCS mid-storm, affecting the amount of rainfall they release and also where they travel. Conversely, we found storms were often weakened over moister soils.”

“Our finding means that, for the first time, we can predict, from satellite-observed surface conditions, how these extremely large West African storms may behave when, for example, they approach a city. A more effective alert system will enable local people to take action to protect themselves as well as their homes, livestock and possessions, plus plan emergency responses.”

Image Credits: Photo @SteffenMalskaer, NSIDC, (University of Maine Climate Reanalyzer.

Extreme weather is becoming increasingly common. Most recently, a record breaking heatwave in Greenland has gone viral thanks to the image of sled dogs wading through water where there should be ice. However, relating single weather events to climate change is problematic and, although these instances can act as indicators of a trend and eye-openers for public opinion, it is important to distinguish between single weather events and climate change.


A photo taken in Greenland by Steffen Olsen from the Centre for Ocean and Ice at the Danish Meteorological Institute, depicts the surreal image of sled dogs crossing a wide expanse of melt water where there should be ice. A captivating image that appears to show the dogs walking on water, quickly becoming a banner for media coverage on climate change.

The photo was taken as researchers worked to recover their monitoring instruments and weather stations in North West Greenland. In the process they ran into a concentration of melt water that had accumulated because the ice, which in this area forms thickly each winter, has few cracks and therefore cannot drain through.

By now we have all already read about this story, as the viral image reached social media feeds and the front pages of major newspapers around the globe. Many have taken this as proof of climate change and an indication that global warming is a shocking and irrefutable reality. However, the reality is not that simple and there are two important considerations to be made.

Firstly, it is important to state that this is not an unprecedented event. Although unusual for this time of year, as a particularly strong heatwave hit Greenland last week, the formation of melt water above sea ice with low permeability is a regular occurrence, usually in late June or July.

In fact, Ruth Mottram, climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, claims that the role of global warming in this phenomenon is not a given as it can “still [be considered] a weather-driven extreme event, so it’s hard to pin it down to climate change alone”.

Equating the picture of melt water to proof of climate change is a simplification that can become problematic and opens climate change debate to easy critiques. For example, a side effect of the heatwave in Greenland has been lower than average temperatures in North America, whereby the cold air normally contained in that region is rushing into the mid-latitudes — like a fridge door left ajar.

This highlights the need to explain the relationship between weather driven events and climate change. Enrico Scoccimarro, Senior Scientist at CMCC, whose main research activity is to investigate the relationship between tropical cyclones and the climate, when interviewed explained that: “the association of climate change to single events is tricky”. As an expert in extreme weather events, Scoccimarro highlights the importance of arriving at conclusions by looking at general trends over long periods of time, rather than pointing at single weather events as proof of a broader truth, as this can often be misleading. An excellent example can be found in his research on tropical storms whereby: “In general we know that  […] there will be less tropical cyclones because of climate change […] this said when they do form, the availability of energy for the intensification of the process is greater […] therefore less cyclones but more intense ones.” Another clear example of how we must analyse the effects of climate change by looking at the bigger picture rather than focusing on single events.


Temperature difference from normal on Friday, as analyzed by the Global Forecast System model. (University of Maine Climate Reanalyzer).

When reporting on climate change, it is important to distinguish between weather and climate, indicators and proof, short term and long term; thus maintaining scientific rigour whilst at the same time making information accessible to the broader public. After all climate describes what the weather is like over a long period of time in a specific area.

That said, there is another important message contained in Steffen’s viral photograph: if we want to raise public awareness and therefore propel change at the grassroots level, then we need images and words that are able to move people, grab their attention and pull at their heartstrings. Although his photograph is not proof of climate change, it is an image that speaks a thousand words on the research being done in the area: weather satellites monitoring sea ice in the Arctic since 1979 indicate that current ice coverage is the lowest on record for mid-June. Furthermore, sea ice loss over the northern coast of Alaska has been “unprecedented” according to Rick Thoman, a climatologist based in Fairbanks. These are phenomenon that can be ascribed to climate change as they analyze the long term patterns of weather in the region. The simple image of dogs walking on water where there should be ice can help stimulate the viewers imagination on what would otherwise be, excuse the pun, “dry facts”.

If images can raise awareness in public opinion about the dire and undeniable situation that our environment faces due to anthropogenic climate change, then it is important that they be shared. At the same time it is also essential to put them in context and explain the true complexity of the climate crisis.

Image Credits: Marek Piwnicki @UNsplash, IPCC.

In the new IPCC report scientists have made more accurate and reliable assertions on the extent, causes and future of our changing climate. As the crucial COP26 in Glasgow approaches, their assessment of the physical science of climate change may well act as a much-needed wake-up call. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land [and that] changes in the climate system have become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming,” reads the report.


The first part of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report (AR6), released on 9 August, has sent shockwaves across the globe. The increasingly assertive language used by scientists has been widely reported by global media with front news headlines. Not only does the AR6 provide much more detail on the changes currently underway but it also establishes with increased certainty what the causes and possible future climate scenarios are.

A certainty that is founded on not only improved science but also the observation of unprecedented changes to our lived environment over the last few decades. According to Prof Ed Hawkins, from the University of Reading, UK, and one of the report’s authors: “It is a statement of fact, we cannot be any more certain; it is unequivocal and indisputable that humans are warming the planet.”

After approval by 195 member governments of the IPCC, The Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, is the first instalment of the AR6 which will play a crucial role in informing negotiations at the upcoming COP26 and beyond. The Working Group I contribution to AR6 collects the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, showcasing cutting edge climate science to provide policymakers with the information needed to inform their decision making processes.

It will be followed by two more reports, the first of which will assess research on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and the final one looks at what is known about the possibilities of mitigation.

The much-anticipated report has been met with a strong global reaction as scientists have now established with a high degree of certainty that many of the major changes in climate have become “inevitable” and “irreversible” and that the source of these changes is “unequivocally” caused by human activities. Newspaper headlines have focused on the severity and irrefutable scientific evidence of the climate crisis.   

Evidence collated in the report points to the fact that temperatures have already increased by 1.1ºC since the start of the 19th century and that, over the next two decades, temperatures are “likely” to rise by more than 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. This would mean that, under almost all the scenarios considered, countries would fail to reach their 2015 Paris climate agreement pledges, with dire consequences for the planet and society.

AR6 temperature scenariosConsequences are already visible across the globe with extreme weather events already being part of the new normal. Professor Michael Mann, who recently participated in a live webinar on the role of climate policy (organized by the CMCC), explains that: “Climate change is now causing amplified weather extremes of the sort we’ve been witnessing this summer – droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, floods, superstorms,” he said. “The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We see them playing out in real-time in the form of these unprecedented extreme weather disasters.”

However, AR6 also indicates that there is some room for manoeuvre if we act swiftly and decisively. “Strong and sustained” reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases have the potential to mitigate climate change. Although some of the positive effects of such reductions could be visible in the short term, such as improved air quality, others such as stabilizing temperatures would take decades to manifest.

What has changed since AR5?

When AR5 was published in 2013-14 one of the major aspects was to form an irrefutable link between emissions of greenhouse gasses and global temperature changes. This led to the calculation of a “carbon budget” for ensuring that certain temperature increases are not met. In AR6, the budget has been calculated once more and shows that for a 50% chance of remaining below 1.5ºC only 500bn more tonnes of CO2 can be emitted. That amounts to 15 more years of consumption and production at current rates, which in turn implies that the entire world would have to reach net-zero emissions before 2050.

CO2 emissions influence surface temperatures 
Not only does AR6 provide a new carbon budget but it is a lot more certain in its claims and calculations compared to its predecessor. A certainty that is derived from not only simulations and computer models but also the possibility of drawing on more physical evidence and observations “bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations.”

In the new report, scientists have demonstrated the greater level of certainty in their findings by including more instances in which they express “high confidence”, which outnumbered those where they have only “medium confidence”; a stark contrast to AR5 to AR5 which had an equal distribution of such expressions.

In particular scientists have higher confidence in their claims about human influence on issues such as the frequency of concurrent heatwaves and droughts worldwide; frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall and flooding throughout Asia and Africa at 1.5ºC; and that some mid-latitude regions, including south, central and eastern Europe, will see around 1.5 to 2 times faster than the global average increases in the temperature of the hottest days.

annual mean surface temperature change 
Still further, scientists are also a lot more confident about what they call “equilibrium climate sensitivity” – which refers to the global mean surface air temperature increase that follows a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The Economist reports that: “In 2007’s AR4, this number was put between 2 and 4.5ºC; in 2013’s AR5 the uncertainty had increased slightly, expanding the range to 1.5-4.5ºC (range 3). Now it has been halved: AR6 puts the sensitivity at 2.5-4ºC, with a best estimate of 3ºC.”

Simon Lewis, professor of global change science at University College London, told the Guardian that: “The observations this summer show that some impacts [predicted in previous IPCC assessments of the climate] seem to be underestimated, but we can’t know if the devastation of summer 2021 is the new normal without a few more years’ data. But what we do know is if emissions continue to rise, then increasingly severe climate impacts will occur.”

A matter of degrees

Although AR6 doesn’t focus exclusively on rising temperatures and their effect some of the most significant conclusions concern how temperatures have been rising faster than in previous IPCC assessment cycles. Chapter 2 of the report focuses on this aspect and concludes with“high confidence” that: “Observed changes in the atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere and biosphere provide unequivocal evidence of a world that has warmed. Over the past several decades, key indicators of the climate system are increasingly at levels unseen in centuries to millennia, and are changing at rates unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.”

This indicates that global mean surface temperature (GMST) has increased by 1.09ºC between the pre-industrial baseline period 1850-1900 and the most recent decade of 2011-20. This was more likely than not the warmest in roughly 125,000 years.

Furthermore, scientists have also established that greenhouse gas concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide “have increased at rates that have no precedent on centennial time scales in at least the past 800,000 years”, and determines with “high confidence” that concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are higher than they have been for at least the past two million years.

Compared to the previous report AR6 projects that there will be slightly more warming under comparable emissions scenarios, and that these conclusions are less uncertain. “Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5C and 2C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.”

Specifically, AR6 adresses “possible climate futures” by looking at five “core” emissions scenarios, spanning the “very low emissions” SSP1-1.9, “low” SSP1-2.6 and “intermediate” SSP2-4.5, through to “high” SSP3-7.0 and “very high” SSP5-8.5.

Perhaps the only hope comes with the report’s statement that “It is virtually certain that global surface temperature rise and associated changes can be limited through rapid and substantial reductions in global GHG emissions.”


Read the main takeaways

Read the full report

Read the IPCC press release

 

Image Credits: drmakete lab @Unsplash, Earth Observatory, Climate Action Tracker, Emmerling et Al 2019 .

Over the last few decades, through rigorous investigation and research, the scientific community has reached a consensus around the reality of climate change. As this process continues, there is also a need to focus on finding solutions to the unfolding crisis and communicating scientific knowledge through effective storytelling.


Imagine a future where heatwaves and droughts are ravaging the Earth. Where ecosystems are irreversibly degraded, and climate change has drastically altered society. Being able to place ourselves in other peoples’ shoes is central to human imagination and understanding the consequences of our current actions on future generations.

Science helps us project ourselves into the future with data-based predictions and climate models that give us a glimpse of what is to come and help inform the decisions of policymakers who are seeking to build better futures.

However, it is often hard to translate these predictions into a tangible reality made of people and their experiences. Numbers, statistics and graphs need a human face and relateable storylines that create empathy. 

“Translating long term climate goals into actions means timing net-zero according to what climate models are predicting. But there is a lot of difference and uncertainty in this and we need narratives and storylines that explain these models and their predictions,” explained EIEE director Masimo Tavoni during the Science and policy: strategies, solutions and opportunities webinar.

Creating tangible storylines with strong narratives that capture the future depicted by scientific predictions and climate models is central to ensuring a better future for the next generations.

how much do we value the future
Model simulations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate that Earth will warm between two and six degrees Celsius over the next century, depending on how fast carbon dioxide emissions grow. Source Earth Observatory


Science fiction

Science fiction as a genre strives to create imaginary futures that tell us something about the current times we live in. It helps us create fictitious futures that are somehow grounded in reality: a discovery of the future that teaches us the value of the present.

“When I was young the mars landings were the new stories and mars was a blank slate and imaginary space into which we could throw our imaginations,” explains renowned sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson, “But that was the 1990s. In 2021 the news that comes to us from the scientific community is that we are enacting catastrophic climate change and are currently in the era of the Anthropocene. So, this is now the story to tell.”

Robinson’s new book The Ministry of Information transports the reader to a not-so-distant future, around 30 years from now, where the IPCC’s current best-case scenario projections on climate change have forged the world.

The effect is a powerful depiction of the consequences of our actions on future generations. A face to face encounter with the people suffering from extreme weather events and the geopolitical tensions that will inevitably arise.

“IPCC projections are science fiction stories of what will happen if we pursue certain courses of action now. I wanted to portray a best-case scenario for about 30 years from now knowing what we now know,” explains Robinson.

Current policies presently in place around the world are projected to result in about 2.9°C warming above pre-industrial levels. The unconditional pledges and targets that governments have made, including NDCs and some long-term or net-zero targets as of April 2021 would limit warming to about 2.4°C above pre-industrial levels, or in probabilistic terms, likely (66% or greater chance) limit warming below 2.6°C. Source: Climate Action Tracker

The Discount Rate Hypothesis

Storytelling related to climate change raises many important issues, not least of which how much we value the future and the wellbeing of those that will live in it. If sustainable development means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs, as defined by the Brundtland Commission Report in 1987, then understanding and portraying the consequences of our current actions is essential and should dictate policies being implemented today.

“To what extent do we value the future? This question is embedded in our evaluations. By changing the extent to which we value the future then we alter completely our understanding of who should bear the burden, and benefits, of solving the climate crisis,” explains Tavoni.

Central to these evaluations is the discount rate hypothesis. Social discount rates (SDRs) are used to give a current value on the costs and benefits that will occur in the future. With regards to climate change policymaking they help calculate how much we should invest in reigning in the effects of climate change.

social discount rate
The policy costs, expressed as % of baseline GDP, of the next 2 future generations(living in 2050–2080—in red—and 2080–2110—in blue) is compared to the policy cost of the generation living in 2020. A genera tion lasts for 30 years, e.g. the policy cost of the generation living in 2020 is the total undiscounted cost over the period 2020–2050. Source: Emmerling et Al 2019

 
This involves evaluating the cost-benefit relationship between investing in climate change mitigation and adaptation now compared to the cost-benefit of letting these fall on future generations.

“The use of a high discount rate implies that people put less weight on the future and therefore that less investment is needed now to guard against future costs. Indeed, high discount rates have been described as favouring arguments against regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The use of a low discount rate supports the view that we should act now to protect future generations from climate change impacts. In other words, more importance is given to future generations’ wellbeing in cost–benefit analyses,” outlines the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

Inter-generational equity

By telling the stories of the effects of climate change on future generations we can help raise awareness about inter-generational equity. “The discount rate should be zero. We value the people of the future as much as ourselves. If you have a high discount rate, which we have now, then you are saying that the future and people of the future don’t matter to us and ethically this is indefensible,” claims Robinson.

Initiatives such as the Conference Of Youth (COY) play a strong role in advocating for intergenerational equity and ensuring that younger generations are being represented in important policy decisions taking place today but which affect their future.

“COY is designed for the youth from across the world so that we can share best practices. We ensure that young people from all across the world have a space to participate in the process. At COY16 we will produce a policy document that will then be presented at COP26,” explains Jan Kairel Guillermo, Lead, Global Affairs Unit, COY, YOUNGO.

“We need to consider environmental justice when we want to implement changes even if long term targets are often hard to work towards,” says Lodovica Cattani, Country Coordinator Italy for COY16. “It takes a lot of courage to see the climate crisis and fight the negative narrative of doom and gloom. Young people can do this, demand better policies and hold accountable their local representatives and the industry sector.”


Image Credits: Dimitris Vetsikas @Pixabay, IPBES 2019, Carvalho et al. 2021, Radchuk et al. 2019.

Climate change is exacerbating problems such as habitat loss and extreme temperature fluctuations. With one in four species currently under threat of extinction, understanding which ones are better equipped to adapt, and hence survive, can provide valuable information for conservation efforts and policy choices.


Human activities “threaten more species now than ever before”. The 2019 IPBES report raised alarm bells around the world when it indicated that around 25% of species in plant and animal groups are vulnerable. This amounts to approximately one million species “already facing extinction, many within decades unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss”.

To address this unfolding crisis researchers are studying how animals and their habitats adapt to climate change and changes in land use. Adaptation is being studied both with regards to species distributions and evolutionary changes under a range of future environmental scenarios. This amounts to predicting which species will survive in a future where global warming and land use change continue to threaten their current modes of being. 

who will survive
Direct and indirect drivers of global declines in nature. Source IPBES 2019.

 
According to a recent study – published in the journal Molecular Ecology – it is possible to use genome sequencing to understand how animals adapt to extreme seasonal changes and hence help forecast the evolutionary future of these populations. 

“We may be able to use the genetic differences that evolved in the past as a way to predict how populations may adapt to environmental stressors like climate change in the future,” explains lead author Alan Garcia-Elfring, a Doctoral Candidate under the supervision of Rowan Barrett, the Canada Research Chair of Biodiversity Science at McGill University.

Conservation efforts stand a lot to gain from these kinds of efforts as predicting who is better equipped to survive, how future populations will distribute themselves and why these changes will occur can make policy choices more effective. 

Who will adapt?

One of the main challenges revolves around understanding if climate change is happening too fast for animals to adapt in time. “Climate change is one of the key threats to biodiversity and to human society in the coming century,” explains evolutionary ecologist at University College Cork, Thomas Reed.

Numerous studies have looked at how individual species are able to adapt to different climate-induced challenges. Recently a study published in the journal Diversity and Distributions, looked at the impact of climate change, land-use changes and human population growth on Africa’s great apes – gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos.

Its conclusions reveal that – in line with other recent studies – African ape populations and their habitats are declining dramatically, with all regarded as flagship species for conservation.

The study also looks at what the future holds in store by applying future best and worst case climate scenarios for the year 2050 – where “best case” implies slowly declining carbon emissions and appropriate mitigation measures and “worst case” assumes that emissions continue to increase unchecked.

african great apes
Ensemble forecasting of the future (best- and worst-case scenarios) range change for (a) Gorilla spp and (b) Pan spp based on weighted mean and the true skill statistics. Source Carvalho et al. 2021

 
Joana Carvalho, lead author of the study explains that: “By integrating future climate and land-use changes as well as human population scenarios, this study provides strong evidence for synergistic interactions among key global drivers constraining African ape distribution.”

The most important takeaway is that outside of protected areas massive range loss is widely expected “which reflects the insufficiency of the current network of protected areas in Africa to preserve suitable habitats for great apes and effectively connect great ape populations.”

Efforts to maintain connectivity between habitats predicted to be suitable in the future will be crucial for the survival of African apes – and not only – and revolves around understanding both how a changing climate will alter future habitats and how different species will be able to either adapt to these changes or move to areas that retain favourable conditions.

An example of coordinated conservation efforts can be found in Gabon where the development of agriculture, road and rail links, and mineral extraction is linked to wildlife and vegetation data so as to ensure habitat connectivity and maintain African ape populations and those of other wildlife.

Great Apes Emphasize Importance of Biosphere Reserves

“There must be global responsibility for stopping the decline of great apes,” states Hjalmar Kuehl, senior author of the study. “Global consumption of natural resources extracted from ape range countries is a major driver of great ape decline. All nations benefitting from these resources have a responsibility to ensure a better future for great apes, their habitats and the people living therein by developing more sustainable economies.”

Evolutionary changes

Although many studies that address the impacts of climate change and land use change on biodiversity focus on individual species and their distribution ranges a study published in Nature Communications in July 2019 performed a meta-analysis, pulling all the data together to try to provide a broader conclusion on the effects of climate change on phenology, and hence the timing of recurring biological events.

According to the study: “quantifying adaptive responses, or demonstrating their absence despite directional selection, is important in a biodiversity conservation context for predicting species’ abundances or distributions and for mitigating the effects of climate change on biodiversity by developing strategies tailored to species’ ecologies.”

The study concludes that although some species appear to be adapting to a warming climate through changes in their phenology there is not much evidence of this occurring in all species. Moreover, those species that are adapting may be doing so at too slow a pace to guarantee their survival.

However, the study does indicate that – at least in some cases and specifically with some bird species – adaptive phenological responses could provide a partial remedy to some of the negative effects of climate change.

who will survive adaptive phenology
Adaptive and maladaptive responses to climate change. Source Radchuk et al. 2019

 
Yet the problem of climate change is not just that animals have to adapt to gradual temperature changes that will occur over time. The future is also predicted to bring an increased occurrence of extreme weather events whoch provides another set of threats as species do not have time to adapt to them.

One study shows how “extreme climatic events are creating a new selection pressure,” explains Anne Charmantier expert in evolutionary biology.

Studies exploring the impact of extreme weather events on wild populations have revealed the extent to which they can impact animal and plant populations. By way of example, droughts significantly affect above-ground biomass and phenology of several plant species in Europe. Similarly for animals, extreme weather events are believed to impact the reproductive success and survival of many species significantly.

This is particularly dangerous as extreme heat events could have a large effect on selection processes. If no offspring survive a given extreme event then none of the beneficial genes are passed on: if an extreme heatwave kills everyone, natural selection can’t occur.

Who will survive?

Although direct effects of climate change and land use change are relatively easy to assess, indirect ones are very hard to quantify and hence make understanding which species will survive complex and fraught in uncertainty. The indirect effects that are responsible for many climate change impacts on populations, such as in the food chain, are more complex to model than direct effects.

Another source of uncertainty revolves around the ability of different species to adapt. An example is that of ectotherms (cold-blooded animals like reptiles and amphibians) that over the course of history have been less able to adapt to climatic change than endotherms. However, even in this distinction, there are some notable exceptions such as the American bullfrog, which scientists believe may flourish under climate warming scenarios.

Overall, it is predicted that specialised species, and species that live in microhabitats (such as high elevation forests), will be more exposed to the effects of climate change. On the other hand, “early successional” species that are able to flourish in disturbed habitats, such as grasslands and young forest will have a better chance of surviving climate change. “For example, deer are common in suburban areas and thrive where forests have been removed or are regularly disturbed,” explains Jessica Hellmann, from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.

What is certain is that with climate change and changes in land use acting as some of the main drivers of biodiversity loss, understanding the way species have already been affected and predicting how they may be affected in the future can inform policy choices and improve conservation efforts.

Image Credits: Luca Bravo @Unsplash.

Natural resources are neither free nor boundless. The time has come to challenge our conception of the relationship between the economy, society, and the environment and how we measure well-being and social progress. A new system takes the contributions of nature into account when analyzing economic development. It can be a game-changer for decision making processes.


Conservationists and environment officials hope new UN standards that also account for the value of natural capital can help governments slow the rapid decline of plant and animal species worldwide.

The UN has adopted a new system that takes the contributions of nature into account when analysing economic development. The new framework — the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting—Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) — was adopted by the UN Statistical Commission and is a major step in leaving behind the supremacy of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the universal indicator of wealth and prosperity, which has dominated economic reporting for over half a century.

More than just GDP

GDP is the most commonly used metric to rank the development and wealth of countries. GDP amounts to the total monetary value of all the services and finished goods produced inside a country over a given period of time and hence gives an indication of the country’s economic condition. However, this focuses on monetary value and ignores other valuable indicators such as happiness, human wellbeing and environmental conditions.  

Experts indicate that although GDP is extremely effective in accounting for the value of goods it fails to show the interdependency of nature and the economy and the impacts of said value on nature, which can be anything from the deterioration of water and air quality to the loss of forests.

Other indicators have been developed to account for these shortcomings. Some examples include the Human Development Index (HDI) – which is a combined statistic of education, life expectancy, and per-capita income – and the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) – which measures the prosperity of a country by addressing economic, ecological and social factors that are not included in GDP.

However, in the face of the continuing climate crisis the UN has proposed a new framework that focuses on the environment and how economic development can either contribute to or impinge on the surrounding environment.

Counting nature and the economy together and in the same framework “will allow us to see how our economic activities affect nature, and how the presence of nature affects us as individuals, societies and species,” says Elliot Harris, UN Chief Economist, also adding that by doing so, we can help influence change “to achieve prosperity without damaging or destroying nature in the process”. 

A view that has been supported by experts. In February 2021, Cambridge University economist Partha Dasgupta released a review on the economics of biodiversity, claiming there is need to ascribe economic value to ecosystems and the service that they provide through a recognition that economic activity is “embedded” in nature.

“We take for granted all that nature provides,” claims Brian O’Donnell, director of the Campaign for Nature, an organisation that works with scientists, indigenous people and conservation groups.

A new framework

The SEEA EA framework was adopted by the UN Statistical Commission and represents a key step in the direction of including natural capital such as forests, wetlands and other ecosystems in economic reporting and therefore influencing measures of wealth and development.

With the adoption by the U.N. Statistical Commission, the new accounting system is a recognition of a global push to protect the natural world and respond to the ongoing climate crisis.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres commented the adoption of the new economic and environmental framework: “This is a historic step forward towards transforming how we view and value nature. We will no longer be heedlessly allowing environmental destruction and degradation to be considered economic progress.”

Likewise, Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director claimed that: “This is a major step forward. The new framework can be a game changer in decision-making.  By highlighting the contribution of nature, we now have a tool that allows us to properly view and value nature. It can help us bring about a rapid and lasting shift toward sustainability for both people and the environment.” 

 

In simple terms, the U.N. accounting framework helps measure two key things in physical and monetary terms: the “stock” of nature, such as the extent of forest cover and wetlands, and its “flows” – the benefits derived from nature, including water purification and carbon sequestration.

By way of example, forests play a role in providing communities with clean water, serving as natural water filters with trees, plants and other characteristics, such as soil depth, that help absorb nutrient pollution like nitrogen and phosphorous before it can flow into streams, rivers and lakes. Factoring these contributions into their value will mean that they are given a much higher economic standing and therefore contribute to their conservation.

“Nature, and the contribution of these ecosystems to our prosperity and well-being, will finally be reflected in our balance sheets,” explains Harris.

Already in use

The United Nations reports that over 34 countries are already including “natural capital” in their measurements on an experimental basis, some of which have even brought environmental benefits into their decision-making in a more significant way. An example is New Zealand’s “well-being budget”, which has a specific goal to transition to a sustainable economy.

“What this does is actually start to define what we mean by natural capital more clearly,” says Mark Gough, chief executive of the Capitals Coalition.

According to a study published in the Nature Sustainability journal benefits of preserving nature, such as reducing carbon emissions, producing water and boosting resilience to extreme weather, actually exceed the value of exploiting it.

The study looks at the monetary worth of each site’s “ecosystem services”, such as carbon storage and flood protection, as well as likely dividends from converting it for the production of goods such as crops and timber.

In one example, if Nepal’s Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park were turned from forest into farmland it would create an $11-million annual deficit by cutting carbon storage 60% and water quality 88%, researchers estimate.

The SEEA EA is already in use and has been deployed in a variety of policies and decision making processes that support the global sustainability agenda. In Indonesia, carbon accounts have been used to assess the impacts of changes in peatland ecosystems and in South Africa, ecosystem extent and condition accounts for rivers have informed the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.

The new framework is important not only for the value that it ascribes to nature but also in the questions that it raises for decision makers. It challenges our conception of the relationship between economy, society, and the environment and how we measure well-being and social progress.


Image Credits: Deepak Kumar @Unsplash, UNwomen.org.

Women are more exposed to the effects of climate change and at the same time less represented in climate negotiations and national environmental ministries. Working towards gender equality can also lead to more effective environmental decision making and action, accelerating global efforts to achieve development goals.


Not only is gender equality a fundamental human right but it is also a pillar of creating a sustainable global system. Enshrined in the UN’s SDG 5 – Gender Equality – is a recognition that investing in environmental sustainability goes hand in hand with achieving global goals related to gender equality and vice-versa.

Overall, climate change has a greater impact on those members of society that are the most vulnerable and poor. In particular, those that depend on natural resources for their daily survival are often exposed to the effects of natural hazards and extreme weather events which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change.

This has profound repercussions on discourses concerning gender equality as women make up 70% of the world’s poor, fill the majority of the world’s informal work and are highly active in economic sectors that are vulnerable to climate change – such as agriculture.

gender-equality-womens-rights-in-review-key-facts-and-figures-en
Source: UNwomen.org

 
Although women are underrepresented in decision-making processes concerning environmental issues there are numerous studies that reveal how participation and leadership by women in environmental and conservation efforts can increase women’s political, economic, social and personal empowerment.

Furthermore, new research published in Nature Communications, and analysed by Carbon Brief, reveals that empowering women through improved healthcare, education, and representation in government has the potential to facilitate the way in which societies adapt to climate change.

When talking to Carbon Brief, Dr Astghik Mavisakalyan, a principal research fellow at Curtin University explains that there is a mutually beneficial relationship between gender equality and increased climate resilience. By making gains in one there is an improvement in the other which generates a “virtuous circle of sustainable and equitable development”.

Gender equality and climate change 

Although it is undeniable that the last few decades have seen progress in gender equality – more girls accessing adequate education, fewer girls being forced to marry early, more women in positions of leadership, and legal actions to consolidate gender equality – it is also clear that systemic crises, such as the ongoing pandemic and climate change, lay bare the extent of inequalities. 

The pandemic has exacerbated existing differences and threatens women and girls across a variety of issues – from health and the economy to security and social protection. In fact, the UN considers that the COVID-19 pandemic could reverse progress made on gender equality and women’s rights by exacerbating existing inequalities in the realms of health, the economy, security and social protection.

In a similar fashion, the impacts of climate change also threaten to set back women more than men. Women are more likely to be involved in the provision and production of food, fetching of water and sourcing of fuel for cooking. These activities become increasingly challenging in a changing climate where extreme weather events – such as droughts flooding and heatwaves – impact the world’s poor in a more pronounced fashion. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 70% of the world’s poor are women.

Across the globe, women experience more barriers to owning land and their access to positions of power in political and financial decision making spheres are curtailed, which – amongst other things – prevents them from taking more active roles in climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives.

The repercussions of gender inequality on the environment are a global concern. “Women have the knowledge and understanding of what is needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to come up with practical solutions. But they are still a largely untapped resource,” states the IUCN in its Gender and Climate Change brief.

Women and climate diplomacy

Until around 2008 the UN climate change negotiations included no specific references to gender issues and it was only in 2010 that the UN General Assembly unanimously voted to create a single body tasked with accelerating progress in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.

This has led to a shift in the understanding of the profound links between gender equality and responding to climate change. Just by way of example, the Lima Work Programme on Gender – adopted at COP20 in 2014 – promotes gender balance and achieving gender-responsive climate policy, and at COP21 in Paris a gender-responsive outcome has set the standard for implementation of the accord.

Although parties to the UNFCCC have officially recognized the importance of involving women and men equally in climate negotiations and the development and implementation of national climate policies – by establishing a dedicated agenda item under the Convention addressing issues of gender and climate change and through inclusion in the overarching text in the Paris Agreement – there is still much progress to be made.

In terms of national environmental ministries led by women, the statistics are far from positive. In 2015, the IUCN’s Environment and Gender Information data estimated that only 12% of 881 national environmental ministries (e.g., those related to natural resources, water, forests, etc.) across 193 countries were led by women.

Although there has been progress over the last five years, whereby women now hold 15% of top jobs as ministers of environmental sectors and in 46 countries with forest-specific ministries, 18% are headed by women, and 11% of water or irrigation ministries are headed by women.

Gender equality leads to stronger climate action

Research indicates that, recognising the important contributions of women as decision makers, stakeholders, educators, carers and experts across sectors and at all levels can lead to successful, long-term solutions to climate change.

Setting in motion systems that allow women to put their capabilities to the service of climate goals can help create effective climate change adaptation and mitigation outcomesl. Not only have women demonstrated to be leading the way towards more equitable and sustainable solutions to climate change, but across sectors, women’s innovations and expertise have had transformational effects on lives and livelihoods, and increased climate resilience and overall well-being.

In West Africa, women have shown that their capability for developing and implementing solutions to increase sustainable livelihoods and reduce conflicts, whereas other examples reveal that women are more likely than men to use climate smart agriculture methods as a countermeasure to climate change.

Furthermore, research indicates that when women are part of decision-making processes on land management, the groups in question conserve more. “The big takeaway here is that when it comes to environmental conservation, the presence of women matters,” says lead author of the study Nathan Cook, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Behavioral Science.

These contributions must also extend into the scientific, business and political decision-making fields for there to be real gender equality and true environmental gains. Just as with conservation, past studies demonstrate that countries with more female members of parliament are more likely to pass environmental treaties and promote conservation. Still further, there is a significant amount of research that demonstrate the benefits of gender equality in science.

Overall gender inequality is believed to have a negative impact on the resilience and adaptive capacity of women, families and communities. At the same time, there is growing evidence that it also impacts climate change mitigation and adaptiation. Linking gender equality with environmental agendas can provide a significant boost to sustainable and equitable development.


Image Credits: Mike Swigunski @ Unsplash.

Urban centres hold the majority of the world’s population, yet these man-made environments are often devoid of green spaces. Adequately planned urban greening can not only improve living conditions for city dwellers but also help countries meet their broader climate goals.


Whereas in the 1960s approximately one-third of the world’s population lived in urban areas, today this share has risen to over 55% and continues to increase. As more and more people gravitate towards urban areas it is important to re-imagine how these environments are constructed so that they are better adapted to a changing climate, provide adequate living conditions and also contribute to climate change mitigation.

If properly planned, designed and developed, green spaces deliver multiple ecosystem services, making urban ecosystem more resilient to climate challenges and contributing to the transition to a low carbon and circular economy

Paola Mercogliano, CMCC researcher

“Green spaces play a crucial role in enhancing both adaptation and mitigation in urban areas, contributing to achieve the goals of EU Green Deal and fostering the transition towards a more sustainable future,” explains Paola Mercogliano CMCC researcher and head of the REMHI division.

The first step in implementing effective urban greening projects revolves around adequate planning and an understanding of our climate through scientific research that can predict climate trends and the likelihood of extreme weather events in specific localities. “If properly planned, designed and developed, green spaces deliver multiple ecosystem services, making urban ecosystem more resilient to climate challenges and contributing to the transition to a low carbon and circular economy,” continues Mercogliano.

Why go green?

As urban areas expand, they chew up green spaces and replace them with artificial surfaces. This has negative repercussions on both the local and global environment. In contrast, research indicates that urban green areas contribute to climate change adaptation by providing a wide range of ecosystem services and at the same time also mitigate climate change due to their carbon capturing and storing potential.

“There is solid evidence on how adaptation benefits from regulation services, with a reduction of near‐surface and surface temperatures through evapotranspiration and shadowing effects and an improvement in water quality (filtering and treatment) and quantity (peak flow and volume reduction). Green areas also contribute to climate change mitigation because of their ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere and to store it in vegetation,” explains Carmela Apreda, architect and member of the REMHI division’s team dedicated to working on urban adaption.

Yet the benefits of urban greening are not just limited to the environment and climate change mitigation goals. “Apart from adapting cities to climate change through increasing urban forest canopy cover and vegetation in general, research has also shown that people are mentally, physically, and socially healthier when they live in greener environments,” outlines Cecil Konijnendijk, Professor of Urban Forestry at the University of British Columbia, and director of the Nature Based Solutions Institute.

“Leading medical journals have been publishing studies about the contributions of urban nature to our health and wellbeing. People who live near green spaces are more physically active and healthier,” he continues.

As an expert in urban forestry Konijnendijk has developed a new guideline for urban forestry and urban greening: the 3-30-300 rule. “This rule focuses on the crucial contributions of urban forests and other urban nature to our health and wellbeing. It recognises that we have to consider many different aspects of the urban forest in order to be successful. It also addresses the need for urban forests to percolate into our living environments,” he explains on the IUCN website.

Not only do green areas such as parks have positive impacts on the physical and mental wellbeing of city dwellers, they are also attributed with boosting creativity, promoting social interactions and in some cases have even been linked with improving real estate value and lowering crime rates in adjacent neighbourhoods.

The Urban heat island

One of the most studied phenomenon related to the benefits of urban greening is their impact on city temperatures. The phenomenon whereby urban temperatures remain higher than their surrounding areas is known as the urban heat island effect which has become a growing concern for city dwellers and planners.

The urban heat island is caused by two main factors: heat emissions connected to human activities (such as using cars and air conditioning), and the heat retention of artificial surfaces like cement or asphalt, compared to natural ones like forests or fields.

“Adapting cities to climate change, e.g., through cooling is widely recognised as one of the most important benefits of urban forests. Studies have shown that cities with higher canopy cover are cooler,” explains Konijnendijk. 

Takehiko Mikami, Emeritus Professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, has conducted extensive research on urban climatology and the impacts of green spaces on city temperatures. His research demonstrates how green spaces such as parks not only have lower surface and air temperatures than the built-up areas around them but also spread cool air to surrounding areas. This is known as the cool island effect.

“It is important to preserve or even increase green areas in big cities because cool air also seeps out into the surrounding neighbourhood, even when the areas are small,” highlights Mikami.

Ensuring city temperatures are lowered is extremely important for the health of city dwellers. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between death rates and the number of days in which maximum temperatures are above 30 degrees Celsius and nights in which minimum temperatures remain above 25 degrees.

The cooling benefits of urban greening can even be achieved with relatively small green areas and green corridors that use trees to connect parks. For this reason, adequate planning that takes into account the climatic conditions of cities and the likelihood of extreme weather events is fundamental.

Adequate planning for effective greening

 “For urban greening to be effective in both providing adaptation and mitigation benefits it is important to plan effectively,” explains Mercogliano. Adequate planning revolves around a clear definition of objectives, integration of greening in the urban/regional planning context, adoption of long-term and flexible perspectives and considering green spaces as a public investment in health, well-being and quality of life.

According to Mercogliano, “temporal resolution of regional climate models, represent the starting point to support urban planning decisions.” For example, the CMCC provides resolution climate data for recent past climate and future projections under different scenarios in the frame of several national and international projects (H2020 EUCP, CEF T Highlander).

Access to this information can help plan for disaster risk reduction from urban flooding, with climate simulations at 2 km that account for urban climate parameterizations.

“Another useful tool that can be used in urban planning is the development of a climate profile aimed at evaluating climate variability through synthetic indicators – moving from climate to hazard – that could be easily managed by local stakeholders,” explains Alfredo Reder, engineer and member of the REMHI division’s urban impacts of climate change team. These climate profiles have already been used in Italian cities such as Brescia and Prato and are the basis for the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan.

To this end, the CMCC’s REMHI division has focused on both the advancement of existing knowledge concerning planning, design and management of green adaptation measures and the quantitative evaluation of the effectiveness of green adaptation measures using novel physically based models that are able to simulate urban flooding and Urban Heat Island (UHI) processes – along with possible interactions – at significant spatial scales.

“A multiscale approach is essential to link all the existing and planned green areas at multiple spatial scales – from the site to the neighbourhood, to the town, watershed and region – and developing a well-connected and multifunctional green network, which forms ventilation channels and facilitates the circulation of fresher and cleaner air from the surroundings into the city, also providing additional ecosystem services such as restored habitats for wildlife and reduced land fragmentation,” concludes Mercogliano.

Effective urban greening involves a lot more than grassy rooftops and urban orchards. When properly implemented and informed using a rigorous scientific approach it can provide a valuable tool for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Understanding where and what kinds of green areas to implement can make the difference between achieving transformational or merely aesthetic improvements. 

The International Foundation Big Data and Artificial Intelligence for Human Development (iFAB) in collaboration with CMCC and Leithà, launches the European Extreme Events Climate Index (E3CI), an innovative operational service for weather induced hazard assessment and management. E3CI has the potential to revolutionize the way insurers and financial markets evaluate extreme weather-related risks in Europe. A bold step in ensuring that scientific research has tangible impacts on the real world.


As extreme weather events increase in frequency, they inevitably put the lives and assets of people at ever greater risk. Between 1998 and 2017 alone, countries hit by extreme weather events reported direct economic losses valued at 2,908 billion USD, of which 2,245 billion USD were caused by climate-related disasters.

To safeguard livelihoods and provide support for businesses both insurers and insured parties require access to reliable data an

d information on the changing climate. 

To this end, the International Foundation Big Data and Artificial Intelligence for Human Development (IFAB) has joined forceswith the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC), and Leithà to create an extreme weather index that can bring fundamental change to the way in which insurers do business.

On January 21st the  European Extreme Events Climate Index (E3CI) will be presented during a live-streaming webinar that brings together a broad range of experts in discussing the main features of the index. The objective is to showcase the index and at the same time encourage dialogue and feedback by experts. 

“The E3CI  is a great example of effective technology transfer and a great display of cross-sector collaboration that is the trademark of IFAB’s guiding mission,” comments Dr. Avesani, Chief Innovation Officer at Unipol and CEO of Leithà.

The potential to become a game-changer

As climate change continues to generate financial impacts individuals and businesses will require insurance policies tailored to these kinds of liabilities. The publication of a certified database that maps past extreme weather events can provide objective criteria with which to analyze the exposure of assets at risk. This will allow more effective insurance coverage, bringing benefits to both consumers and the insurance companies themselves.

“When insurance companies cover people with a policy they take on a risk which then they also need to cover for,” explains Avesani.

Traditionally this is done by Insurance companies purchasing reinsurance policies from third parties so as to limit their own total exposure.

However, this is not a liquid and transparent market. Indeed this is a market based on bilateral, over-the-counter transactions. The E3CI can help change this by generating indices that allow for the development of activities that could then be traded on financial markets.

“The true potential of the E3CI is that it can change the way financial and insurance markets operate, by providing indices against which weather-related hazards can be more accurately measured. The advantage of doing this is that if I go through the market I can make these liabilities tradeable and therefore increase transparency and raise competition which comes with advantages for both insurers and the insured,” outlines Avesani.

“Basically, the publication of E3CI is a first small step towards making weather-related liabilities tradeable on financial markets. It lays one of the building blocks for a market that hasn’t existed up to know and that was managed through bilateral transactions,” he concludes.

What is the E3CI

“The E3CI aims to define a synthetic index that provides information about the areas affected by different types of weather-induced hazards and the severity of such events,” explains CMCC scientist Guido Rianna.

From a methodological perspective, the E3CI draws on the North American Actuaries Climate Index (ACI) addressing five main hazards: cold and heat stresses, droughts, extreme precipitations and i winds. These indicators are identified and computed on a monthly basis so as to generate information on the occurrence and magnitude of weather-related hazards.

“The index provides an objective indicator of the frequency of extreme weather which can prove instrumental in the assessment and mitigation of financial consequences of risks and in the summarization and presentation of complex data,” explains CMCC scientist Paola Mercogliano

In fact, data will be made available for free in two different formats: firstly, in a visual format that contains maps and synthetic graphs in an online dashboard hosted by the IFAB website; and secondly, for expert users, raw data for specific months or Administrative Level Units can also be downloaded. 

This is an important first step in providing practical uses for the extensive research and data collection that has gone into developing the index. 

Scientific research with purpose

We want to promote research projects that have a large impact on the real world. We don’t want to stop at research but want to ensure that it becomes applied research. The E3CI is a perfect example of this. It will bring benefits to both insurers and insured parties who will be able to access more transparent prices,” explains Avesani.

IFAB’s mandate is to promote cooperation between public and private sectors in the field of innovative technologies. For this reason, it decided to fund the E3CI project, in an effort to ensure that research finds applications in the economic and business worlds and produces tangible benefits.

On January 21 the E3CI will be presented via live streaming (click here to register), in what is the first and significant step in its deployment into the real world. “Now it’s time to get to work in refining, amplifying, and connecting exposures to the index. We have put the E3CI out there, now let’s see where it goes,” concludes Avesani.