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MAR1: First climate and environment report in the Mediterranean region

190 scientists from 25 countries have produced the first regional report on climate in the Mediterranean. Focusing on countries around the Mediterranean where the speed of climate change is faster than global trends, the report assesses the best scientific knowledge and associated risks in the region.

Credit: SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

In order to assess the best available scientific knowledge on climate and environmental change and associated risks in the Mediterranean basin, MedECC, an independent network of 190 experts from 25 countries, was established in 2015. After four years of work, they have just produced the first MAR1 report to make this scientific information accessible to policy makers, stakeholders and citizens.

> Discover this report

Knowing the consequences in order to better prevent them

The first step in considering a change in policies and mentalities with regard to sustainable development is to have a global vision of the current situation and, above all, of the risks it presents for the future. The reports of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, open to UN member countries), drawn up with this objective in mind, provide a global vision of climate change, while pointing out that these changes do not apply everywhere in the same way.

In particular, the Mediterranean region - the sea, but also its islands and the land surrounding it - is experiencing climate change much faster than global trends and these effects are already visible: increased sea level rise, rising temperatures, but also more frequent extreme heat waves and summer rainfall. The MAR1 report thus provides a more accurate picture of the evolution in this region.

Climate change, population growth and pollution are factors that combine with consequences in the Mediterranean region at several levels:

Pullulation of jellyfish, mucilage, which are plant substances that swell on contact with water and take on a viscous consistency, or algae, many non-native species (outside their natural habitat) invade the sea, impacting professional fishing which sees its fish stocks shrink.

These consequences have an impact on tourism, which is also affected by the degradation of natural resources, the decrease in the availability of fresh water or the reduction in thermal comfort.

Risks to human health are also increased, particularly as a result of heat waves and food and water shortages, and conflicts caused by resource scarcity are feared in these regions.

In order to prevent these consequences, the MAR1 report aims to underpin sustainable development policies with scientific evidence enabling decision-makers to assess the risks, but also the opportunities: more rigorous management of resources and an accelerated energy transition - already underway - will be crucial steps to effectively mitigate climate change and its consequences.

Involvement of French researchers

The Pierre-Simon Laplace Environmental Sciences Research Institute (IPSL), of which École polytechnique is a part through the Laboratoire de météorologie dynamique (LMD-IPSL*), made a significant contribution to the preparation of this report. Sophie Bastin from LATMOS-IPSL* worked on the understanding of the regional climate system with Jean-Claude Dutay from LSCE-IPSL*, who also contributed to the part concerning impacts on ecosystems. The "energy" part was led by Philippe Drobinski, Director of the LMD-IPSL and the E4C Interdisciplinary Centre, and involved Robert Vautard of the LSCE-IPSL, Rémy Lapère of the LMD-IPSL, and Alexis Tantet of the LMD-IPSL.

The Interdisciplinary Centre Energy4Climate of the Institut Polytechnique de Paris has also contributed to the chapter on energy through other researchers outside IPSL, in particular Vincent Bouchet (CREST* and I3*), Edouard Civel (LIX*) and Thierry Brunelle (CIRED*).

Recognized and rewarded work

On December 17, the MedECC was awarded the 2020 North-South Prize by the Council of Europe, which could be compared to the European equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. Each year, this prize rewards two public figures whose commitment, achievements and hope are recognized in the protection of human rights and in North-South solidarity. In awarding this prize to the MedECC, the Council of Europe recognizes the quality of the work carried out, as well as "the collaboration between states and societies to address the challenges of climate change" and "scientific cooperation between experts to produce knowledge-based analysis as a solid basis for environmental policy planning".

> Discover E4C's contribution to the MAR1 report

* LMD-IPSL, Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory: a joint research unit of CNRS, École Polytechnique/Institut Polytechnique de Paris, ENS/PSL and Sorbonne Université
LATMOS-IPSL: Atmospheres, Space Observations Laboratory
LSCE-IPSL: Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory
CREST: Center for Research in Economics and Statistics, a joint research unit of École Polytechnique/Institut Polytechnique de Paris, CNRS and ENSAE Paris/Institut Polytechnique de Paris.
I3: Interdisciplinary Institute of Innovation
LIX: Laboratoire d'Informatique de l'École Polytechnique, a joint research unit of École Polytechnique, CNRS
CIRED: International Center for Research on Environment and Development