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SUMMARY OF THE EXPRESSO PROJECT
In the context of the new European framework program for Research and Development "Horizon-2020", a consortium of 21 partners led by the University of Geneva has submitted a project under the call "Water-2a-2014: Water cycle under future climate".
The EXPRESSO project aims to investigate how climate change and extremes such as severe droughts and heavy precipitation may significantly modify water cycle components in Europe and exert strong impacts of water-related sectors. EXPRESSO will develop innovative and integrative approaches to improve water management in society, taking into account related societal challenges.
Improvements in numerical model-based forecasting of water cycle variability and extreme events will be undertaken for short-term early-warning forecasts and to assess long term trends in the frequency and intensity of extremes and their impacts water resources.
The project will then assess by sector (agriculture, health, energy, freshwater ecosystems) current EU regulatory frameworks that set legal limits (e.g., nitrates for farming; water temperature for cooling of power plants), and determine whether climate change and extremes may push these systems beyond these legal bounds. The EXPRESSO project will then determine the point in time when thresholds may be exceeded and how reversible these may be. Assessments will also be made of whether early implementation of adaptation strategies may delay or avert “tipping points” in water-related systems.
The project’s objectives will be fulfilled through 6 dedicated work packages, 4 of which are directly related to cutting-edge research, one to coordination activities, and one to outreach and stakeholder involvement. The 4 science work packages include i) climate-model improvements, including early warning capability for extreme events; ii) hydrological response to extreme events and climate change; iii) analysis of whether certain critical thresholds may be exceeded; and iv) economic analyses and adaptation strategies to minimize economic and human damages.
The project’s ultimate aim is to guide decision makers in identifying strategies for achieving more efficient management of water resources in Europe under future changes in climate and extremes.