SOCLIMPACT - Climate Change impacts on European islands


Spring 2021

Building a common framework for assessing CC impacts and adaptation pathways at island level.

SOCLIMPACT is a research and innovation project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme. The project aims to model downscaled Climate Change effects and their socio-economic impacts on European islands and archipelagos up to 2100, and to assess alternative adaptation pathways.

The application is based on twelve case studies of European islands and outermost regions: French Antilles, Azores, Balearic Islands, Fehmarn Island, Canary Islands, Crete, Cyprus, Madeira, Malta and Sicily. Four key sectors of the EU blue economy were analysed: energy, tourism, maritime transport and aquaculture. Finally, estimations of the impacts of climate change on the islands' socio-economic system were made by combining structural and functional linkages between islands and the rest of the EU, and by implementing a newly combination of two general equilibrium models.

The research work on each island led to the following results:

  • Downscaled projections of climate change risks (sea level rise, flooding, beach loss, seagrass evolution, fire danger, infectious disease outbreaks, among others) for two scenarios RCP2.6 (low emissions scenario) and RCP8.5 (high emissions scenario) and different time horizons, namely a baseline period (1965-2005), mid-century (2046-2065) and end of century (2081-2100). See Modelling of CC Impacts.
  • An iterative risk assessment which aims not only to assess the risk, but also to monitor vulnerability and exposure, which evolve over time and respond to human interventions.
  • The analysis of potential economic impacts on the four blue economy sectors, taking into account specific hazards and risks, and applying discrete choice experiments and value transfer techniques.
  • The socio-economic implications of these impacts by applying two general equilibrium models. Changes in mean temperature, sea level and precipitation rates, that are expected to affect energy consumption, tourism flows and infrastructure, have been used as inputs to assess the effects on 14 sectors of economic activity, GDP, consumption, investment and employment.
  • The co-assessment and ranking with local stakeholders alternative adaptation pathways, that are framed by the geographical and socio-economic conditions of each island, and the future climate change scenarios.

The novelty of this project has been to effectively use a participatory process involving 12 island organisations, stakeholders and academics to develop accurate and adapted climate change projections for EU islands, and to correlate the relationships between CC scenarios, biophysical impacts and island socio-economic conditions. The project addressed the problem of the lack of high-resolution data by expanding the Med-Cordex database and the size of the unpublished atmosphere-ocean coupled simulations. While the Mediterranean region is sufficiently covered by available wave and tidal data, climatological datasets describing tides in the Atlantic Ocean, and specifically for the islands analysed, are generally lacking. Specific new simulations have been carried out, with satisfactory results.

But the most powerful service provided by SOCLIMPACT is the Regional Exchange Information System (REIS) and the Adaptation Support Tool for Islands. They allow stakeholders not only to access specific knowledge generated by the project, but also to have the opportunity to discuss intensively, propose new ideas for collaborative work and establish a reference point for Adaptation beyond island boundaries. Through its networking area, the platform is open to bring solutions in support of climate resilience management in EU islands and outermost regions, and to incorporate actions as well as methodologies for CC research to the EU coastal zones and beyond.

The final meeting of the project will be held on 23 March 2021. The conference is entitled "First European Island Summit on Climate Change" and is the first step towards further joint events. The meeting will bring together academics, EU island representatives and panellists from the European Commission to discuss co-benefits and adaptation pathways over time for building more resilient archipelagos. (Registration HERE).

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 776661.