In its report in 2007, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified mountain areas as being particularly sensitive to climate change.
Bearing these issues in mind along with its role as a key player in the Pyrenees, the Working Community of the Pyrenees (CTP) has decided to develop in this field a framework of shared actions amongst its members on a consistent biogeographic level: the Pyrenees Massif.
To this effect, the Working Community of the Pyrenees has created the Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory as part of its 2009-2011 actions programme. Created on the 14th January, 2010, the main objective of the Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory is to monitor and thus have a better understanding of the phenomena of climate change as well as initiating studies and reflexions in the hope of identifying what actions are necessary to limit its impact and adapt to its effects.
The purpose of Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory is to follow and understand the climate evolution in the Pyrenees with the aim of limiting the impacts and adapting to its effects by defining appropriate adaptation strategies for socio-economic sectors and the most fragile natural areas.
More broadly, its approach seeks to develop the visibility of the Pyrenees on both a European and international level in the fields of observation and adaptation to climate change. It also aims to integrate the Observatory into the European networks linked to the activities of the Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory.
Five main objectives of the Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory. For more information, click on each objective.
Objective 1: Pool existing knowledge on the impact of climate change in the Pyrenees and identify the new knowledge to capitalize.
This involves a clearer, more precise approach to climate change evolution and its effects by structuring climate change knowledge and ensuring it is widely known.
Numerous studies from within the scientific community and public and private institutions have been carried out on climate change and its direct and indirect impact in the Pyrenees. Given the current dispersion of this information, an assessment of existing data, project results and climate change studies on the Pyrenees mountain range should be carried out. This is particularly important so that the members of the CTP can share knowledge and observations through a common source of information.
To this effect, a catalogue has been created that allows for an advanced search of different studies and information relating to climate change in the Pyrenees (and beyond). Go to studies catalogue
Furthermore, indicators applicable to such changes should be defined. These indicators will allow for quantitative and qualitative track any observed changes in a lasting way. They will therefore contribute to improving public and private policy on climate change adaptation in the Pyrenees.
To this effect, the different actors within CTP territory involved in Pyrenees data collection programmes are invited to share such information in the Observatory and, with the help of the Scientific Council, to participate in identifying what is lacking.
Objective 2: Analyse the vulnerability of natural environments to climate change and study its socio-economic impact, especially on the local population.
The sensitivity to the effects of climate change on natural environments and its exploitation in the socio-economic sphere is variable. Therefore, it is of use to analyse the extent of vulnerability of the different natural and socio-economic systems through the analysis of the indicators and their evolution. In addition, this involves organising the priorities of actions and identifying when they should be applied with the aim of putting forward operational adaptation strategies.
During the first stage, the following sectors are studied: hydrology, biodiversity, agriculture and forestry, tourism, construction and infrastructures and energy in relation to the environmental, economic and sociological risks that they involve.
The impact on the socio-economic sphere, especially on the local population, should be studied through demographic indicators (population density, dispersion, population ageing, etc.).
Objective 3: Prepare recommendations and operational advice for a better adaptation of economic activities and natural environments by promoting the harmonious development of the mountains and its population.
Identifying the direct and indirect impacts of climate change, the vulnerability of natural environments and the socio-economic activities of these phenomena allows defining share recommendations. These recommendations go with the evolution of natural environment management and the development of economic activity in the Pyrenees Massif.
These recommendations should be created and shared by and with the range of actors that are involved (politicians, forest keepers, farmers, hydraulics managers, managers of natural spaces, etc.).
They should be based on information concerning the consumption of resources due to human activity (materials, water, energy, etc) and in the comparisons with similar situations of other European mountain massifs such as the Alps.
Objective 4: Inform society and socio-economic actors in an educational manner
Society in general is more and more aware of the impact of climate change thanks in particular to the media and large national and international events. However, this awareness and knowledge is limited to just the main indicators of climate change such as the increase in average global temperatures, the melting of the Greenland ice sheer and the rise in sea levels.
Shared knowledge of the impacts of climate change on the territory, on a local level, is still lacking. A greater social awareness is therefore necessary.
The development of education and awareness of the inhabitants within the Working Community of the Pyrenees will allow citizens to feel more involved and, as a result, more active in the fight against climate change.
The work of the Observatory will feed teaching and training programmes on this issue for citizens and socio-professional actors within the WCP.
Objective 5: Contribute to developing European and international visibility of the Pyrenees regarding observation and adaptation to climate change and support the Observatory’s European Network.
The work of the Observatory intends to foster the knowledge and consideration of the specific aspects of climate change in the Pyrenees through by national, European and international authorities.
Its work also contributes in positioning the Pyrenees as a European and international point of reference and driving force for considering and adapting to the effects of climate change.
Lastly, the Observatory develops technical partnership on a European level with entities that deal with climate change in other mountain ranges with the aim of creating part of a dynamic network of structures on the subject in the different European massifs. (see partnership with the European Environment Agency)
GIEC (2007) - Bilan 2007 des changements climatiques. Contribution des Groupes de travail I, II et III au quatrième Rapport d'évaluation du Groupe d'experts intergouvernemental sur l'évolution du climat. GIEC, 103p.