March 29, 2021 — Learning to use climate data is essential to make decisions that allow us to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. With this purpose, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS), the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the Spanish Meteorological Agency (AEMET) organized the conference ‘C3S: Challenges and solutions in Spain’, which was held virtually on March 24 and 25. At the event, ministers, mayors, experts and representatives of the private sector discussed the challenges and information needs that climate change implies and were able to discover the tools offered by the C3S service, with special attention to those aimed at the water and energy sectors, as well as to climatic extremes.
In the opening session, the director of the Earth Sciences Department of the BSC-CNS and ICREA professor, Francisco Doblas-Reyes, highlighted the importance of this meeting to raise awareness about the new resources that the C3S makes available to Spanish society for the generation of relevant climate information. Doblas-Reyes called these resources “unique and tremendously valuable for the implementation of transition policies”, adding that they offer opportunities for a new market for environmental services that will create jobs.
In the same vein, the Vice President of the Spanish Government and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, stressed the importance of having the best scientific information on the climate, based on the observation, analysis and prediction of the possible evolution scenarios, “to know, understand and work for a stronger and safer society in the face of the vulnerabilities that a changing climate implies.”
Big data is fundamental in adapting to climate change
The ability to collect and interpret the enormous amount of complex climate data (big data) in the long-term is therefore revealed as a fundamental tool to understand whether recent exceptional meteorological phenomena, such as the Filomena storm that hit Spain last January, can be considered isolated events or indicators of important changes in the climatic conditions of the planet.
“The data offered by C3S help us to adapt and respond to global phenomena, and therefore guarantee the health and safety of citizens,” said the Minister of Science, Pedro Duque, who highlighted the citizen purpose of the Copernicus program, “by putting technology at the service of society.” In his intervention, Duque stressed the commitment of Spain in the fight against climate change “being a region very vulnerable to its effects due to the risk of desertification and the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme meteorological phenomena.”
Among the most vulnerable areas is the Mediterranean region. Cities such as Barcelona and Valencia are among the most exposed in Europe to phenomena such as heatwaves, floods, storms or droughts, which will be more and more frequent and could alter coastal areas. In this context, climate information is essential to face the challenges of climate change and adapt these cities and their surroundings to present and future adversities.
The role of cities in the fight against climate change
In this regard, the mayors of Barcelona and Valencia, Ada Colau and Joan Ribó, underlined the key role of cities in managing the climate crisis. By concentrating a large part of the population, large cities are the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions globally and in the case of the Mediterranean region, they are also areas with a great potential impact of climatic extremes.
Colau pointed out that climate change “is one of the greatest challenges that modern societies face, not only for future generations but already in the present,” so the fight to mitigate its effects is one of the priorities of her municipal government. One of the first measures of her current mandate, she recalled, was the declaration of a climate emergency in Barcelona and currently the council is working with the goal of reducing emissions by up to 50% in 2030 compared to 1992, which entails “planning measures in all areas of the city.”
On his part, Ribó insisted on the importance of having adaptation and mitigation strategies that make possible to face the social and economic challenge posed by climate change. The mayor stressed the situation of Valencia as a coastal city, where wetlands such as Albufera are affected by the increase in local water demand and by episodes of drought and floods, which increase the vulnerability of the water exploitation system. “For new problems, old solutions are not useful,” said Ribó, who highlighted that public policies must incorporate data provided by services such as C3S in order to be truly efficient.
Technology to make decisions that reduce climate risks
The technological tools developed by the C3S allow free access to quality and uniform indicators based on the massive processing of meteorological data, which are easy to understand, use and exchange. This enables the actors involved in the fight against climate change to have information that allows them to better understand environmental conditions, make more efficient decisions and define effective plans to reduce climate risks.
The need to curb global warming and its adverse climate effects is urgent. According to data published by the C3S, 2020 was the warmest year in the history of Europe and closed a decade with exceptionally high temperatures in the European territory. “The next fifty years will be key to counteract this global warming trend and to help the most vulnerable regions to face this very important challenge,” concluded the director of C3S, Carlo Buontempo.
You can watch the streaming of the conference in the following links: