MACSUR science pick of the month: Perceptions of present and future climate change impacts on water availability for agricultural systems in the western Mediterranean region
Nguyen T., Mula L., Cortignani R., Seddaiu G., Dono G., Virdis S., Pasqui M., Roggero P.-P. 2016. Perceptions of present and future climate change impacts on water availability for agricultural systems in the western Mediterranean region. Water 8, 523 (18 pp). doi: 10.3390/w8110523
Climate perceptions of farmers acting in the same district were found to be strongly influenced by personal experience of the impact of climate events on each farming system type and on the socio-cultural and institutional context. Understanding perceptions informing farmers’ choices is key to integrate climate communication into adaptation research, for making sense of climate responses at farming typology scale.
Many Mediterranean countries have experienced water shortages during the last 20 years and future climate change projections foresee further pressure on water resources. This will have significant implications for irrigation water management in agricultural systems in the future. Through qualitative and quantitative empirical research methods carried out on a case study on four Mediterranean farming systems located in Oristano, Italy, we sought to understand the relationship between farmers’ perceptions of climate change (i.e., increased temperature and decreased precipitation) and of present and future water availability for agriculture as forecasted by climatic and crop models. We also explored asymmetries between farmers’ perceptions and present and future climate change and water scenarios as well as factors influencing perceptions. Our hypotheses were that farmers’ perceptions are the main drivers of actual water management practices and that sustainable practices can emerge from learning spaces designed from the understanding of the gaps between perceptions and scientific evidences. Results showed that most farmers perceived that climate change is occurring or will occur in their area. They also perceived that there has been an increased temperature trend, but also increased precipitation. Therefore, they are convinced that they have and will have enough irrigation water for agriculture in the near future, while climate change projections foresee an increasing pressure on water resources in the Mediterranean region.
|What do people in the street think about climate change? (2014)|
Such results suggest the need for (i) irrigation management policies that take into account farmers’ perceptions in order to promote virtuous behaviors and improve irrigation water use efficiency; (ii) new, well-designed learning spaces to improve the understanding on climate change expectations in the near future in order to support effective adaptive responses at the farm and catchment scales.
Related paper: Nguyen T.P.L., Seddaiu G., Virdis S.G.P., Tidore C., Pasqui M., Roggero P.P. 2016. Perceiving to learn or learning to perceive? Understanding farmers’ perceptions and adaptation to climate uncertainties. Agricultural Systems 143, 205-216. doi: 10.1016/j.agsy.2016.01.001
The Knowledge Hub FACCE MACSUR brings together the excellence of research in modelling grasslands, livestock, crops, farms, and agricultural trade in order to improve the modelling of climate change impacts on European agriculture and in order to illustrate to political decision makers how climate will affect regional farming systems and food production in Europe. To achieve this goal, MACSUR engages in a range of activities, including methodological comparisons of models and use of their outputs (scaling, uncertainty), linking of complementary models from different sectors, involvement of stakeholders, training of young scientists, and establishing a community of practice across a broad range of scientific disciplines. The five-year project started in June 2012.
FACCE MACSUR is organized as a Knowledge Hub, a new financial and organizational instrument. The novelty of MACSUR lies in the in-kind contributions of 2 million euros which, in addition to the 6 million euros of new money, contribute to facilitating the convergence of already funded and ongoing research, as well as funding new research [financial figures refer to the period 1 June 2012 - 31 May 2015 and were established on preliminary accounting data]. The project includes currently 70 institutions from 18 countries. Activities are funded by national agencies, with the amount of funds and the regulation of their use governed at the national level.
|Collaboration across countries and disciplines||Advancing modelling for risk assessment of climate change impacts||Outlook and remaining challenges||Interaction with stakeholders: bridging the gap|
|Video summary of the Bilbao Colloquium|
- Creating a forum for knowledge exchange across science disciplines.
- Adoption of good-practice examples from other scientific communities.
- Structured description of models and comparisons of model performance.
- Selection of regional case studies as showcases of integrated and inter-disciplinary modelling work.
- Training of young scientists.
- Development of European Representative Agricultural Pathways as input to global scenario exercises.
- Development of a data classification and rating tool for exploration of existing data sets.
- Advancement of knowledge in modelling of crop production, grassland production, price development.
- Collaboration on new funded projects.
- More than hundred papers on methodological aspects of modelling food security published in peer-reviewed journals.
- Overview papers in high-profile journals.
- Major international scientific conferences and workshops.
Regional case studies
The purpose of regional case studies is a simultaneous and interlinked development of a common conceptual framework and actual models and model links to assist policy makers and actors in the agri-food chain in identifying effective and efficient adaptation and mitigation measures and potential consequence scenarios, e.g. impact on food yield, quality, nutritive value, disease load etc. in perceived hotspots of climate impacts. The studies are geared to ansower the question "what would be the different contributions of different European adaptation strategies to global food security until 2050 at different scales (farm to EU) while keeping the GHG targets?"
Three case studies in Northern Savo (Finland), Mostviertel (Austria), and Oristano (Sardinia, Italy) have been selected as showcase pilot studies to represent the farming systems in northern, central and southern Europe. The case studies expand existing case studies. For compatibility with international research networks AgMIP and ISIMIP the Regional Pilot Studies will apply the new Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (especially SSP2 "continuation" but also SSP3 "fragmentation") in conjunction with the Representative CO2 Concentration Pathway of 8.5 W/m2 (most similar to the SRES A2 emission scenario of the IPCC reports).
FACCE MACSUR integrated Regional Pilot Studies, Workshop results