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Discussions between science and policy on water and climate

Onema, the Water agencies and the Ecology ministry organised a day-long meeting last February in Paris on water and climate change in order to promote informed political decisions and better understanding between scientists and policy makers. The symposium was just one element in the work leading up to the Climate conference (COP21) in Paris in December 2015. The purpose of the meeting between water and climate scientists, on the one hand, and elected officials in charge of managing water and aquatic environments, on the other, was to improve information exchange and provide the managers with a chance to express their needs in terms of knowledge on the impacts of climate change on water and aquatic environments, and on how to manage uncertainty.

For more information: Look at the meeting website


Effects of climate change on North Atlantic salmon

The research carried out by Onema at the biological centre on the Bresle River in NW France has provided information on the effects of climate change on salmon populations along the northern French coast. One of the most significant effects is a reduction in the size of the fish. Following 30 years of quantitative monitoring on both adult reproducers and the juveniles resulting from the reproduction, the data indicate a drop in the sizes of the various age groups. For adult salmon, a reduction of 16 mm per decade was observed. In addition, the number of salmon caught at the Eu biological centre showed that the return rate of salmon was cut in half over the 30-year period. Strong negative correlation exists between the above results and the major increase in water temperatures since 1996 in the migratory zones of salmon, e.g. the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. It would appear that mortality rates have increased or the fish have undergone a change in behaviour.



Identifying control factors for water temperature, the Loire example

For a number of years, Onema has contributed to a research project on river temperatures, using the National temperature-monitoring network set up by Onema in 2008. The first phase of the study carried out by the University of Tours aims to understand the factors controlling the temperature in rivers in order to foresee the impact of climate change on ecosystems. Using the Loire basin as an example, the researchers showed how riparian vegetation, groundwater inputs and weather conditions play different roles depending on the season and the position of the given river reach in the basin.



Monitoring aquatic biodiversity in the Sarenne torrent

Research teams from Irstea have estimated that the Sarenne glacier, near Grenoble, will have disappeared in 11 to 30 years. In view of the projected disappearance, the managers of the Alpe d'Huez ski resort decided to create a reservoir for man-made snow at an altitude of 2 750 metres. Supplied by the torrent carrying glacier runoff, the reservoir entered into operation at the end of 2014, the last year in which the torrent remained under glacial hydrological conditions without any anthropogenic influence. The Onema Rhône-Alpes regional office and the Isère local office took advantage of the chance to carry out thermal monitoring of the water and draw samples of the fauna on the river bottom in order to demonstrate the original characteristics of the torrent and to serve as a reference point for later climate-change monitoring. The samples were saved and will be transmitted to an expert in glacial fauna. Initial results revealed that the temperature never exceeds 10°C and that the fauna are not very diverse and are probably highly specialised. The most common are chironomid flies and stoneflies (Plecoptera).



Management tools for local governments

DRIAS, regional climate projections

The DRIAS site makes available, notably for local governments, regional climate projections up to 2100. The projections, presented for 30-year time slots, include immediately accessible maps and data that can be used in drafting management plans for water resources. The site also proposes a function to assist in determining what information should be selected depending on the specific need. The projections are prepared by French climate-modelling labs (IPSL, CNRM-GAME and CERFAX). The site is managed by Météo France. Another useful site worth mentioning is the WiKlimat site set up by ONERC, the National observatory on the effects of global warming. It has started listing adaptation projects for climate change in France and particularly decentralised efforts by local governments.

For more informations

The WiKlimat national platform

WiKlimat is a knowledge-sharing platform developed as part of the National plan for adaptation to climate change. It is a means for all citizens to learn more about French initiatives to adapt to climate change and for active stakeholders to share their experience and results with a vast public.

For more informations

The Climate-Adapt European platform

Climate-Adapt contains four sections dealing notably with the dissemination of scientific knowledge and information on the available tools. For each country, information includes the legal context, assessment reports on impacts of climate change and vulnerability, and any existing plans. The purpose of the section on cross-border regions is to encourage coordinated adaptation projects between countries. A further objective of the platform is to have the concept of adaptation included in sector policies. The last section addresses funding because it is often difficult to find funding for adaptation projects.

For more informations



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