Meetings

Riederalp 2015 Extremes Workshop

A Workshop on Extreme Climatic Events, Adaptation, and Policy

Riederlap, Switzerland, March 24-28, 2015

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FULL WORKSHOP PACKAGE NOW AVAILABLE: THIS INCLUDES FINAL PROGRAM, ABSTRACTS VOLUME, AND LIST OF PARTICIPANTS :

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PLAN OF RIEDERALP, AREA BETWEEN CABLE-CAR STATION AND ART FURRER HOTELS :

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Rationale for the Workshop

Possible schedule of the Workshop

The venue: Riederalp, Canton of Valais, Switzerland

Fees and registration

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RIEDERALP

A view of Riederalp taken during a former Riederalp Workshop on extreme events in the context of the EU/FP6 "ENSEMBLES" Project (Photo: © 2006 Martin Beniston).

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Rationale for the Workshop

The current and future course of extreme events in a changing climate is considered to be one of the 12 “Grand Challenges“ of climate research, as defined by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP/WMO) in its overview of research strategies to be encouraged for future years. While changes in the long-term mean state of climate will have many important consequences on numerous environmental, social, and economic sectors, the most significant impacts of climatic change are likely to arise from shifts in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. Regions now safe from catastrophic wind storms, heat waves, droughts, and floods are increasingly becoming more vulnerable to these events. The associated damage costs would consequently be extremely high. While some of these damages can be attributed to shifts in the weather elements themselves, many of the costs are related to the fact that there is an increase in population pressure in regions that at risk. There is thus a need to undertake focused research to identify whether the intensity and/or the frequency of extremes has changed in recent decades, to determine possible cause-to-effect relationships between long-term climate trends and severe events, to disaggregate the climate and non-climatic factors (e.g., land-use change, urbanization), and to address trend in extremes as climate continues to change in the course of the 21st century.

In order to achieve these goals, the current level of scientific understanding and the performance of available computational resources have increasingly enabled numerical modeling techniques to be applied to this problem area. The causal mechanisms underlying these phenomena nevertheless require further investigation in order to assess whether they are affected by long-term mean changes in climate.

The type of knowledge generated by research in the natural sciences urgently needs to be taken up in a coherent manner by decision makers, capable of using the updated information and knowledge base on extreme climate events to formulate appropriate adaptation strategies aimed at reducing risks and associated human and economic costs. Extreme events have been seen to be extremely costly in human and economic terms, and there is much interest in assessing whether heat waves, floods, droughts, or wind-storms may increase in intensity and/or frequency in the future, according to different carbon emission pathways during the course of the 21st century. Improved knowledge on the future course of these events should help to establish advance planning, through various forms of economic and technological adaptation, to help decouple as far as possible loss of life and economic costs from the probable rise in damaging extremes in a “greenhouse climate“. What is proposed for the Riederalp-2015 Workshop is to move beyond just the fundamental science and to consider the integration of elements of impacts and adaptation policies that could or should be progressively put into place in order to reduce climate-related risks and the costs of extreme events on vulnerable societies.

Bringing together the “physical science” and the “adaptations” and “policy” communities will thus be an important and exciting element of the Workshop. Adaptation to extreme events and subsequent policies aimed at long-term implementation of adaptation strategies must manage and need to address both existing and increasing levels of uncertainty. This implies that a high level of knowledge on extreme events needs to be generated in order to reduce uncertainty, thus leading to more robust estimates of exactly what can be achieved in terms of adaptation, within what timeframe, and at what cost. This kind of policy guidance is ultimately what is required to curtail risks and impacts generated by climate extremes, and it is with some confidence that we believe that the planned workshop, through its interdisciplinary mix of researchers, will be able not only to address the key issues, but also provide some guidance as to applicable solutions.

There are four main objectives to the proposed workshop:

1) To bring together an interdisciplinary group of scientists to discuss on the latest research re-sults on mid-latitude climate extreme events, and how improved dialog with policymakers may improve adaptation strategies and thus substantially reduce the costs of climate-related hazards;

2) To publish in at least one Special Issue of a leading interdisciplinary journal, the main findings of the workshop and its recommendations. As editor-in-chief of “Environmental Science and Policy” (Elsevier Publishers, Amsterdam), the main applicant of this proposal would be in a position to provide a possible well-read outlet for workshop manuscripts. However, the participants will be polled as to their preference for this, or any other journal, as an outlet for research manuscripts emerging from the workshop;

3) To prepare a policy brief, designed to guide governments in planning for appropriate adapta-tion strategies to counter the negative impacts of climate extremes. The brief would need to target both the specific needs of specific countries, and the broader, trans-national entities such as the European Commission. The policy brief would be available both as a printed bro-chure and available on-line;

4) A final objective of the workshop is to prepare the way for at least one networked project in the context of the new EU framework program “Horizon-2020”. Many of the participants to the Riederalp meeting would ultimately play a key role in any consortium(s) that are likely to be set up as a result of the contacts established (or renewed) at the workshop.

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The venue: Riederalp, Canton of Valais, Switzerland

Riederalp is a car-free resort in the UNESCO World Heritage "Aletsch Glacier" Region. The resort is at equal distance (roughly three hours by train) from Geneva-Cointrin, Zurich-Kloten and Milano-Malpensa airports. Please note that you will need to change trains in Brig and take the small mountain railway as far as Mörel, and then the cable-car to Riederalp. Information on times and connections is available on the Swiss Federal Railroads website. Simply type in your station of origin and “Riederalp” as your destination.

Riederalp is a small summer and winter village in the region of the largest glacier of the European Alps, the Aletsch Glacier. It lies on a south-facing slope with spectacular views to the high summits of the Valais Alps on the other side of the Rhone Valley. It is one of about 14 Swiss resorts that are free of all road traffic. The village is located at close to 2,000 m altitude above sea-level, and end March should still be a good time of the year for skiing (despite global warming!), with ski runs reaching above 2,500 m.

The meeting will take place at the Art Furrer Resort Hotel, where a block of rooms has been set aside for the meeting. All meals, coffee breaks, plenary sessions and possible breakout meetings will take place in the hotel

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Fees and registration

Because this will be a full 3-day meeting, with a probable final wrap-up session on the morning of Saturday, March 28, participants are expected to arrive in the afternoon or evening of Tuesday, March 24, and depart after noon on Saturday, March 28.

A fee of 1,000 Euros will be charged for the full event. This fee covers the costs of half-board (4 nights, breakfast and evening meals), all coffee/tea/refreshment breaks during the conference, and all documentation related to the meeting. In order to secure your accommodation at the hotel's preferential rate and ensure a place in the workshop program, full payment should be made by February 15, 2015, by bank transfer to the following account:

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UBS SA, CH-1211 Geneva 2, SWITZERLAND

Account No. 240-472319.00D

In favor of : Université de Genève, Comptabilité UNI II, 1204 Genève

IBAN : CH150024024047231900D

SWIFT: UBSWCHZH80A

PLEASE MENTION THE REFERENCE: UN9292 RIEDERALP

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WE LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING YOU IN RIEDERALP IN MARCH 2015!

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Prof. Martin Beniston, University of Geneva: Martin.Beniston(at)unige.ch

Prof. Markus Stoffel, Universities of Geneva and Berne: Markus.Stoffel(at)unige.ch

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ALETSCH

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A view of Aletsch Glacier, the biggest Alpine glacier (23 km long, with a surface area of roughly 120 square km), near Riederalp, Switzerland (Photo: © 2006 Martin Beniston).