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Why is SAVEMEDCOASTS-2 focusing on river deltas, lagoons and reclamation areas?

River deltas, lagoons and reclamation areas are among the most valuable wetland regions in the world. These often highly populated zones are productive ecosystems closely connected with human activity, that are exposed to changes in coastal environments under the threat of climate change and sea level rise.

In addition, geological processes that favor soil compaction make these lowlands to be highly subsident and therefore to sink. Fast subsidence can , highly accelerate the rise of sea level , and in turn add on threats to living conditions of local populations with increasing probabilities of flooding and inundation, that may occur also in combination with tides and extreme meteorological events. 

River deltas, lagoons and reclamation areas, being transition zones between inner and coastal environments, are highly sensitive to physical and biological changes that may further influence the integrity of water tables and the coastal zone dynamics at all levels. In addition, the anthropogenic factor makes these areas highly susceptible to infrastructures and ecosystem degradation due to industrialization and pollution. To assess the current and future changes of these zones in response to sea-level rise, land subsidence and other environmental factors acting in the Mediterranean regions and mitigate risks, it is crucial to understand the current rates of the areal land subsidence. In order to quantify these rates and derive detailed flooding scenarios based on sea level rise projections for the next decades high resolution topography is needed.



Goals

SAVEMEDCOASTS-2 is aimed at integrating climate change scenarios into disaster risk assessment and disaster risk management to face sea level rise up to 2100 of the most exposed river deltas and lagoons of the Mediterranean Region so to increase the availability and use of scientific knowledge on disaster, as explicitly stated in the new upcoming Union Civil Protection Mechanism, by developing: 

1) multi-hazard approach for risk assessment, 

2) macro-regional risk assessment integrating climate change scenarios including cascading impacts.

The project capitalizes the results of SAVEMEDCOASTS (www.savemedcoasts.eu), in particular the innovative multi-hazard approach and applied disaster risk assessment methods into disaster risk management policy in the Mediterranean Region, to raise the awareness and preparedness of coastal communities on climate change risks. 

Dissemination and education actions include the KnowFloodRisk campaign for students of primary schools, website, webGIS and social media. 

Methodology

The proposed methodology is addressed to integrate Earth Observation data and ground geodetic data with the IPCC climatic projections (www.ipcc.ch) to define the individual contributions to the expected relative sea level rise effects in the selected areas for the next 20-30 years and up to 2100. 

Results will be distributed to stakeholders through dedicated workshops, stakeholder analysis, website and webGIS. The KnowRiskFlood campaign will ensure the hazard communication across people. Besides the project management (WP1), the technical workflow consists in three main steps (WP2-WP3): 

1) realization of Digital Terrain and Marine Model by the re-analysis of available data to obtain 3D models of the coastal area and coastline position; 

2) estimate the rates of land subsidence from the analysis of InSAR and local geodetic GNSS network data and eventual ground sea-level indicators; 

3) by combining these data with the regional IPCC-SROCC projections (RCP-4.5 and RCP-8.5 scenarios), re-estimated for the Mediterranean region, are calculated the upper bounds of the expected sea levels for the next 20-30 and up to 2100 A.D. and the expected inland extent of related marine flooding in the targeted zones (WP4). 

Concerning point 1), ultra high-resolution aerial photogrammetry will be realized for local zones in Chalastra (GR) and possibly in Deltebre (SP) by UAV techniques, that require detailed maps that will support flooding scenarios. Once flooding maps have been created, will be carried out the following risk analysis and dissemination actions that include: 

1) stakeholder engagement and their perception and needs analysis (WP7); 

2) multi risk and vulnerability analysis and socio-economic assessment (WP5); 

3) disaster risk management plans (WP8); 

4) dissemination and KnowRiskFlood campaigns toward local communities (WP9) that include results from previous WPs and climate related cascading effects, including health diseases (WP4). 

Data management and visualization will be supported by the use of GIS and WebGIS platform, already implemented for SAVEMEDCOASTS. Dissemination of project information and results will be supported by the project website and webGIS, aimed at illustrating the changes of the Earth’s surface of the involved region and to support the production of Digital Terrain Models (NASA, EMODNET, etc. on mapping and emergency management).