It is now well established that global changes will not only affect climate patterns in the next decades in terms of temperatures and rainfalls, but will also dramatically impact freshwater resources both qualitatively and quantitatively. These changes may also trigger socio-economic crises. This increasing worldwide concern entails a strategic planning effort to anticipate the associated risks. In this perspective, the present project focuses on the Black Sea basin. This catchment area, which covers 23 countries for a population extent of more than 160 million people, represents a water source of paramount importance for the region in terms of trade, industry and sustainable living achievement.
It is assumed that the Black Sea catchment area is not currently managed in a sustainable way, thereby worsening environmental, societal and economic problems. Two main issues arise to explain this acute situation.
The first issue deals with both the access and the computing capability of numerous data about key environmental information. Indeed, it is renowned that climate change monitoring in this region suffers lack of accessible data. The second issue is the low networking activity between scientists who carry out geographic observations.
The present project aims to tackle these issues by making use of modern information technologies and by fostering the cooperation between stakeholders. The overarching goal of the initiative consists in generating a grid-enabled spatial data computing infrastructure to allow a set of stakeholders to access and retrieve inaccessible or private data by using a user-friendly
software tool on the internet as well as supporting local authorities in taking decisions.
To reach this goal, the project team is promoting international standards for gathering, storing, distributing and analysing environmental input so that using past data to forecast future trends can be achieved. In addition, the initiative endeavours to build a data-driven view of the Earth for modelling human impacts on the environment in the past, the present and the future. These technical outputs will come together with the production of indicators on sustainability and vulnerability of water resources. A set of four scenarios undertakes to spell out alternatives dealing with demography, land use and climate change for a period ranging from 2008 to 2050.
Furthermore, the main outcome of the project consists in delivering an observation system that will not only enable policy makers to improve relevant decisions in terms of human health, biodiversity, agriculture and energy while taking climate change into account but will also raise the public awareness on environmental risks.
The holistic approach of the project strives to bring a solution to benefit all inhabitants of the basin by tapping into data which are based on watersheds rather than resorting to administrative boundaries. The outputs of the project will be made freely available through the Global Earth Observation System of systems (GEOSS).
This project, which focuses on geomatic monitoring, is funded under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (FP7), a grant funding programme, and coordinated by the University of Geneva and UNEP-GRID (United Nations Environment Programme – Global Resource Information Database) which are both headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. As the project is still running and its outputs are not complete yet, the technology readiness level is currently estimated to be 4 on the TRL scale, according to the scope of the seventh framework programme, which provides public grant partial funding for R&D.