Danube Watch 3/2020 - Copernicus and the Power of Knowledge

Copernicus and the Power of Knowledge

In the fight against climate change, the battle of information is key. With so much climate change denial disinformation saturating all aspects of discourse and originating from sources at levels, accessibility to clear and authoritative information based on data and fact is priceless. This is where the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) offers an invaluable solution by providing authoritative information about the past, present and future climate in Europe and the rest of the world.

C3S supports European Union climate change adaptation and mitigation policies by providing consistent and authoritative information about climate change itself, thus allowing for better decision-making. This support comes in the form of free and open access to scientifically-based climate data and tools which allow users meet their goals in dealing with the impacts of climate change.

C3S is one of six thematic information services provided by the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme of the European Union, and, as such, is an operational programme that builds on existing research infrastructures and knowledge available in Europe and around the world. The information provided by C3S is based largely on climate research carried out within the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and acts as a response to user requirements defined by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Copernicus also acts as an important source of climate change information for the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

The operation and implementation structure of C3S is important to the assurance of the independent scientific validity of its data. Copernicus is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), an independent intergovernmental organisation, on behalf of the European Commission. In the end, the ECMWF and the European Commission both serve their Member and Co-operating States and the broader community, thus setting in place a level of answerability that helps to ensure the integrity of all C3S data. The majority of C3S service elements, in turn, are implemented by about 260 companies and organisations across Europe, which are selected based on competitive Invitations To Tenders (ITTs). An essential service element is the availability of climate impact data and information on a range of topics and sectoral areas through their Climate Data Store (CDS) which is designed to enable users to tailor services to more specific public or commercial needs.

The work of the Copernicus Climate Change Services acts to complement the array of meteorological and environmental services that already exist in most European countries. C3S is able to derive the most benefit in the implementation of its services by using pre-existing infrastructure and knowledge through the involvement of national climate service providers and academic communities.

Keeping the public and stakeholders up to date with advancements and developments to climate adaptation services is seen as being of the utmost importance. As such, many meetings and workshops, including an annual General Assembly, are held by C3S in order to inform the relevant parties. These meetings also allow members of the climate change community to join networking and brainstorming sessions to contribute to future developments of C3S. These meetings, combined with technical support and training to users of the CDS create opportunities for enhanced usage and understanding of the wealth of information offered by Copernicus.

Climate change poses the greatest threat to global biodiversity. Habitat loss and negative effects on reproduction rates are two of the most significant issues facing many species in relation to climate change. Along with additional human activities that place pressure on ecosystems, the impact of these unchecked forces will not only be devastating to biodiversity, but also to the goods crucial for human well-being.

These climate change related threats to biodiversity must be managed in order to mitigate the damage they cause. Ecosystem restoration and species dispersion measures are just two examples of potential management schemes. However, readily accessible information about the current and future climate is critical to the success of such measures, and is often lacking. The climate-biodiversity indicators developed within the C3S Biodiversity service can contribute to assessing the impact of a large number of variables on habitat suitability, species distribution, species fitness and reproduction and ecosystem services.

The subsequent indicators will provide valuable insights to a wide array of stakeholders and climate change actors. These users can apply relevant operational indicators as part of their own activities to assess and manage biodiversity and ecosystem services. The indicators will be suitable for biodiversity and ecosystem assessments for different biospheres as well as for numerous climate-zones around the globe.

Operational Service for the Energy Sector
The C3S Energy operational service seeks to provide key information for climate-related indicators relevant to the European energy sector. This includes data in terms of electricity demand and the production of power from renewable sources. Already over the past year, the core work of the C3S Energy operational service has been the production of climate indicators in three main streams. These are historical, seasonal forecasts and projections.

The continued delivery of the C3S Energy operational service is expected to provide widespread opportunities extending beyond Europe, solidifying the Copernicus Climate Change Service's world-leading, international reputation.

Agriculture and Forestry
As agriculture and forestry will also be greatly affected by climate change, especially regarding food production, C3S provides data to help the agri-forestry sector to predict how these changes will affect crop yield, and, ultimately, return on investment.

Operational Service for the Water Sector
This service aims to help a broad range of water managers to adapt their strategies in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. The targeted fields include water allocation, flood management, ecological status and industrial water use. It offers an interactive web application with refined data, guidance and practical demonstrations for water managers across Europe, with the intent of advancing climate-change adaptation through the utilisation of seasonal forecasts and climate-impact indicators.

In order to provide as much information and aid to policy makers in making their climate impact assessments, a comprehensive overview for Europe is available along with the possibility for consultations with engineers. A user network sharing experience for climate adaptation during annual assemblies is also available to users. This provides:

  • maps and graphs, showing multi-model ensemble data of water and climate,
  • time series to download, with future river flow and water-related indicators,
  • high-resolution harmonised datasets for the whole of Europe,
  • bias-adjusted data from model ensembles,
  • quality-assured data with confidence estimates,
  • real-life examples of decision making in climate adaptation.

Clearly, the goal of Copernicus Climate Change Service is to make as much valuable climate change data available as possible. Importantly, however, it is not simply the data that is being made available, but also the relevant expert interpretation of this information as well as expert guidance regarding the shaping of policies for everyone from government agencies to private businesses to NGOs. If knowledge is power, then C3S is helping to make us all stronger in the face of climate change.

For more information, please consult the Copernicus Climate Change website at https://climate.copernicus.eu/

In case of specific technical questions and requests for collaboration, please contact the Copernicus User Support team at copernicus-support@ecmwf.int

If you are interested in learning more about the work Copernicus are doing to gather user needs for climate information in the Danube River Basin, please contact Rosie Oakes – rosie.oakes@metoffice.gov.uk and Stjin Vermoote – vermoote@ecmwf.int

Next: Danube Watch 3/2020 - Public Participation within the Legal Setting of EU's Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive

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