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The use of maps and scenarios in Climate Risk Management

We know that the main cause of climate change is the increased and continuous anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The long-term evolution of several key climate variables, such as atmospheric temperature, precipitation, ocean temperature, as well as other climate change-related indicators (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions), enable us to assess the trends of the changing climate at a global and local level and to better prepare ourselves!


For a country or a company knowing how various climate variables will evolve in the near and far future is an important and useful tool for their development and sustainability.

Universities and research centers around the world are building models to predict these climate variables and indicators, with global spatial coverage, for the period up to 2100. These raw data are freely available from open external databases, such as the European Union's Copernicus database. Once processed, these data can be used in various ways, adapted to specific situations (e.g. in the case of a company or a local community), understood by the general public, and transformed into usable information.


At E-ON INTEGRATION we have the mechanisms and infrastructure to find, process, and analyze Big Data from external databases. We have developed a methodology to adapt the data to specific situations, at a local and enterprise level. We also have the ability to present and interpret the information generated in such a way that it can be understood and used by business people to help them make decisions about the future of their business.


In this article, we focus on the production of specialized maps depicting possible future climate situations.


Maps are an easy way to present spatiotemporal data for a particular area of interest, interpret them, and examine whether and how much their activities in specific areas are affected by changes in various climate variables.


As an example, below we will present the change in the mean number of days with very heavy precipitation (20 mm per day) in Greece in the periods 2021-2030, 2031-2040, and 2041-2050 and compare them with historical data from 2000 to 2016, using three different RCP scenarios (2.6, 4.5 & 8.5) (RCP scenarios).


Average number of days with very heavy precipitation (20 mm/day), in Greece, for the period 2000-2016




According to the above map, during the period 2000-2016, very heavy rainfall was concentrated in the region of Thessaly, where there was an average of 14-17 days with more than 20 mm of rainfall per day. In addition, the counties of Drama and Kavala also had on average more than 8 days of very heavy rainfall. In contrast, the Cyclades and Crete had on average less than one day of heavy rainfall. This information will be compared with the following forecast maps for the periods 2021-2030, 2031-2040, and 2041-2050 for the three different RCP scenarios. The RCP scenarios essentially show us future climate situations depending on the evolution of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the measures that will be implemented to reduce them. A good (RCP 2.6), a moderate (RCP4.5), and a bad scenario (RCP8.5) are used in this analysis.



Forecast of average days with very heavy precipitation (20 mm/day), in Greece, for the periods 2021-2030, 2031-2040 & 2041-2050 according to the 2.6, 4.5 & 8.5 RCP scenarios


In all three scenarios, already from the period 2021-2030 we see that Epirus and Western Macedonia will be the regions with the most days (more than 17 days to 25 days), with precipitation of more than 20 mm per day.


Compared to the period 2000-2016, except for Thessaly, all the rest of Greece had less than 8 days with very heavy precipitation. This trend seems to change in the coming years as forecasts show that in the rest of Greece, the number of days with very heavy precipitation is increasing.


One can observe that between 2031 and 2040 the areas with days with very heavy rainfall increase. Such areas are the Peloponnese and a small part of the Cyclades near Attica. The North Aegean islands seem to be affected quite a lot in all three scenarios but much more strongly in the second period (2031-2040).


Between 2041-2050 according to the first scenario (2.6), a better picture is presented with days with very intense precipitation concentrated in Epirus and less in the rest of Greece. It is worth noting that the central Cyclades and Crete will hardly be affected at all, which may foreshadow long periods of drought.


Undoubtedly, by 2050, all three scenarios from best to worst, show an increase in the areas that will experience days with very heavy rainfall.


As a result of the above, businesses and society will need to adjust to and deal with the risks and possibilities that these new climate conditions will bring about.


Risks

The increase in days with very heavy precipitation will bring many risks at many levels in the country, from the individual to the state level, including businesses. Due to these conditions, the risk of flooding (rivers, groundwater) may increase, which could result in the damage of infrastructure/buildings and raise the cost of maintenance and/or replacement costs. Also, the disruption of such public or private infrastructure, e.g. breakdown of electricity poles, will simultaneously affect the economic activities that rely on this infrastructure and may lead to undesirable effects such as increased power, water, and telecommunication outages. In addition, increased flooding may result in loss of human life, and lower living standards and ultimately make society vulnerable. Most importantly, while a bad weather event lasts a few minutes or a few hours, the restoration of damage is not only costly but also time-consuming, i.e. it can take months or even years.


Opportunities

Society will need to engage in the process of anticipating and coping with the impacts of climate change and take the necessary measures to prevent and minimize damage. Many opportunities can emerge if a proper and timely adaptation plan is put in place that will result in saving money and lives in the future. For example, an updated and modern evacuation plan could be developed in a flood event, with the help of technological applications. In addition, the state would be able to improve its infrastructure and invest in new materials and create a modernized water drainage system. Of course, new jobs will be created and the cost of the work will be lower than the cost of covering the damage. Finally, many investments can be made in terms of technologies for weather forecasting and, in particular, for predicting the amount of precipitation in specific areas and informing those responsible for a prompt response.


E-ON INTEGRATION creates similar maps for a large number of climate variables, for different time years and RCP scenarios. In addition, it provides consulting services on how to interpret these maps and how they can be translated into quantified risks and/or opportunities. These findings can form the basis for managing future business risks and can be included in the development of a strategy for the future of the business.

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