Climate-smarter and sustainable: the future of landscape management in Italy

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Thanks to High Performance Computing, the Highlander project integrates high-resolutions climate simulations, satellite observations, ground monitoring into decision support tools for a better and sustainable management of interacting natural resources, human systems and activity sectors. The project is coordinated by CINECA, which will make available its supercomputing infrastructure. With 8 out of 9 partners that are research institutes, universities, companies, regional environmental protection agencies based in Italy, the project has markedly a national scope. The CMCC Foundation is partner of this project, with 4 among its scientific Divisions involved:

  • IAFES – Impacts on Agriculture, Forests and Ecosystem Services, with Monia Santini, CMCC Division Director of IAFES and CMCC Scientific Leader of the project, will coordinate a case studies series on land suitability for forests, soil erosion hazard, water resources availability and human wellbeing;
  • CSP – Climate Simulations and Predictions Division, will realize high-resolution global climate simulations for the future, that will be exploited by REMHI;
  • REMHI – REgional Models and geo-Hydrological Impacts, will be used to to develop high-resolution climate simulations for Italy using the model COSMO-CLM;
  • ASC – Advanced Scientific Computing Division, will design and implement data processing workflow and techniques of analyses for the huge amount of climate and land data, defined by experts DApOS and in particular for those developed by CMCC researchers.

Thanks to the high-resolution climate projections developed in the framework of the project exploiting the potential of high performance computing systems, it will be possible to assess the reduced river flow as well as groundwater or reservoir levels, induced by continued precipitation shortages. The objective will be therefore to transfer this case study to other Italian river basins.

Another key case study developed by CMCC researchers will be focused on forests (land suitability for vegetation), in order to produce projections on the possible modifications (shift, reduction, expansion) of the typical habitats of forest species following climate evolution. HIGHLANDER aims at providing results for Italy to support the forestry sector.

Climate change tests the ability of individuals to perceive physical and mental well-being conditions in daily life, especially in the context of large urban settlements. According to Monia Santini, the high resolution climate simulations adopted in HIGHLANDER will allow us to outline and reproduce the effects due to the structure of cities, better assessing the differences between urban and rural settlements.

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