How is climate changing in Italy?

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Climate data and climate science are essential to know the climate of the future, that Pope Francis defines as a common good in its encyclical “Laudato Si'” at the center on key events like “Gli stati generali sui cambiamenti climatici”. 

Results more and more reliable come from simulations increasingly accurate and detailed that allow to study climate change in Italy as never before. From the advancements of the scientific research of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC), information on how and to what extent temperature and precipitation will change in the coming decades.
Data of vital importance for policy and decision makers: now who has to design and develop strategies to cope with the impacts of climate change (such as hydrogeological risk, or the negative effects on socio-economic sectors, for example for agriculture) can rely on new knowledge from scientific contributions more and more reliable and accurate.

It’s like to zoom in a region of the Earth to enlarge an area of particular interest while understanding what is happening there and providing useful information to underline the impacts of a changing climate. Those information are crucial for economic activities, citizen security and for an adequate environmental planning at the regional and local scale.

It’s the work of CMCC researchers who deal with the study of current and future climate change at the regional scale by using numerical models, useful tools that allow to analyze the climate of a specific region of the planet, such as Italy.

Italy: warmer temperatures, with a general reduction in precipitation, particularly evident in spring and summer (an increase has been registered in winter over northern Italy).
In this case the focus was on Italy while employing the IPCC scenarios and trying to highlight how the Italian climate will be at the end of the century.

Edoardo Bucchignani, Myriam Montesarchio, Alessandra Lucia Zollo and Paola Mercogliano are the scientists based at CMCC and C.I.R.A. (Capua, Italy) that realized this research with the regional model COSMO-CLM. The results were published on the International Journal of Climatology in an article entitled “High-resolution climate simulations with COSMO-CLM over Italy: performance evaluation and climate projections for the 21st century” (Doi: 10.1002/joc.4379).

The results of the study make available for the first time climate scenarios and projections for Italy to evaluate variation of temperature and precipitation  (and their relative impacts) over the last century.
More in detail, the data – processed and graphically elaborated with Clime, the software designed and developed by CMCC – show a general mean temperature increase of about 3,2°C per century (projections for the period 2071–2100 with respect to 1971–2000 for the RCP4.5 scenario). With regard to precipitation, the research underlines a precipitation increase in colder seasons and a precipitation reduction in warmer seasons (precipitation climate projections, RCP4.5: seasonal differences (mm day−1), between the average value over 2071–2100 and 1971–2000). 
These projections, thanks to their features, are currently adopted as input for impact models for an evaluation of climate change effects on different hydrogeological hazards (drought, floods and landslides) and on water resources, agriculture and tourism.

To realizing these studies we need innovative tools, cutting-edge research and high-resolution climate data for the past and the present of the area examined. The results were in fact validated by comparing model output with different independent observational datasets provided by regional Italian Regional Agency for Environment Protection (ARPAs) and by Campania Civil Protection.

Tools and knowledge for policy and decision makers

The availability of these information is particularly important now when EU and national regulations are requiring climate change scenarios in order to improve the national territorial planning at the local level. The document entitled “Documento di Economia e Finanza 2015 (DEF)”, released by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (Ministero dell’Economia e delle Finanze) and approved by the Italian Government, clearly mentions SNAC – Strategia Nazionale di Adattamento ai Cambiamenti Climatici (Elements to develop a National Adaptation Strategy to Climate Change). SNAC has been realized by the collaboration between Ministries, stakeholders, and a panel coordinated by CMCC composed by more than 100 scientists from some of the major Italian research institutes, universities and private foundations.
In the document are indicated and defined actions for developing a national adaptation strategy to be realized by 2016.
The opportunity to realize detailed climate change projections for Italy underlines that scientific research provide knowledge in support to decision and policy makers at the global, national, regional and local scale in the current situation when we have to make decisions and evaluate climate change risks to develop strategies and policies to address and cope with climate change impacts.

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