Environment and Natural Resources Service
FAO Research, Extension and Training Division
After extensive consultations between the Ufficio Centrale di Ecologia Agraria (UCEA, Central Office of Crop Ecology) of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policies (MiPAF) and the Agrometeorology Group of the Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN), a Letter of Agreement was signed last February 2002. The agreement covers the financial contribution to the FAO Regular Programme by UCEA to provide technical support in the framework of the national project CLIMAGRI - Climate Change and Agriculture, which has a duration of three years.
The Ufficio Centrale di Ecologia Agraria (UCEA, www.ucea.it/) operates at national level in the field of agrometeorology in collaboration with various national and regional agencies interested in the subject or active in the field of meteorology in general. Agrometeorology, being an institutional responsibility of UCEA, supports the development of agriculture and the protection of the agricultural environment. To that end, UCEA provides technical services such as crop monitoring and forecasting, weather forecasting for farmers, managing the national agrometeorological database and developing research activities.
The Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN), within the Research, Extension and Training Division, is the FAO focal point for activities linked to international environmental conventions (climate change, combat desertification, biological diversity) and for providing geo-spatial environmental information and services. This refers to the availability of real (static or dynamic) geo-referenced data and information to describe the environment and natural resources. Remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), agrometeorology and other environmental tools support the operational and developmental needs of users, both at FAO and in its Member States. A wide variety of programme areas are covered: they relate to early warning for food security, agricultural production forecasting, natural resources management and disaster reduction, impact assessment and response, coastal zone monitoring, as well as renewable energy.
CLIMAGRI is an Italian agrometeorological research programme whose main goal is to constitute the first operational step of a national programme of safeguard of the atmosphere. The project is co-ordinated by UCEA. Its most important objective is to obtain a climate analysis at the national level, evidencing current climate anomalies and changes and providing hypotheses with a specific impact on the Italian agricultural sector. Climate change might also have an impact on other socio-economic sectors and, in particular, on the control of water resources. CLIMAGRI, therefore, takes into consideration, beyond the agricultural sector in general, also some problems of water use and management which are strongly related to climate's variations. Finally, CLIMAGRI can be considered as a scientific programme with an operational component: it proposes methodologies in order to disseminate, with appropriate modalities, the information and the results in an effective way to various users in the agricultural sector.
Research activities carried out within CLIMAGRI will create the optimal frame to acquire important knowledge of the physical phenomena which are linked to the climate variability and change, and which have a direct influence, qualitatively and quantitatively, on the agricultural productions and, therefore, on the emissions of greenhouse gases. The knowledge has a great role to play in the safeguard of the atmosphere and in attaining sustainable development.
About 52 national institutes are actively involved in the project, which has a total budget of more than 4 Million € over 3 years.
Main objectives of CLIMAGRI are:
The project is structured around four major components each of them with specific themes of research:
1. Climate analysis and future scenarios, to acquire knowledge on the reliability upon climate variations and possible future scenarios in Italy.
1.1. Acquisition, analysis of the Italian centennial meteorological series for the determination of the climate variations.
1.2. Study on possible variations in the structure of meteorological data and, in particular, of the Italian rainfall trends.
1.3. Definition of climate change scenarios to evaluate the possible effects on the Italian agriculture.
2. Italian agriculture and climate change, in order to evaluate the significance of climate change for the Italian agriculture and to develop, if necessary, new strategies.
2.1. Climate and soils evaluation for crop suitability in land assessment.
2.2. Identification of agricultural areas and crops at high risk, due to climate change.
2.3. Impact of climate change on frost risk (early and late frosts) and on chilling unit accumulation for fruit crops.
2.4. Effects of climate change on the environmental impact of cropping systems in the hilly lands of Central and Northern Italy.
2.5. Active role of agriculture in the mitigation processes of global climate change.
2.6. Study case of application of seasonal forecasts.
2.7. Definition of a statistical downscaling method of global models for seasonal forecast to be used for agrometeorological applications at national level.
2.8. Analysis and inventory of long-term agronomic trials on productivity and carbon cycle.
3. Drought, desertification and management of water supplies, to improve the knowledge on the impact of climate change to the water supplies.
3.1. Agricultural drought monitoring system and desertification processes in Southern Italy.
3.2. Water management and climate change.
3.3. Simulation model to forecast the impacts of the temperature and solar ultraviolet radiation on zooplanktonic populations in aquaculture.
3.4. Statistical evaluation of some cloud seeding experiments.
3.5. Impact of climate change on agricultural systems and definition of indicators of drought tolerance.
4. Disseminating and exchanging information.
4.1. Computerized diffusion of the data and results of CLIMAGRI.
4.2. Improvement of meteorological forecast provided by the Limited Area Model (DALAM) to be used for agrometeorological applications.
4.3. FAO regional component.
The technical and organizational structure of FAO, the experience achieved in the field of sustainable development in developing countries and its world-wide center in Rome are the basic elements for the transfer of methodologies developed in the framework of CLIMAGRI to developing countries of the Mediterranean area. The UCEA-FAO partnership belongs to the fourth component of CLIMAGRI.
The final objective of the contribution provided by FAO is to obtain an ideal synergy between UCEA, the Italian research institutes and FAO for the application of the CLIMAGRI methods to some developing countries in the Mediterranean area. FAO will use its competence in order to promote collaboration between Italian scientists and their national counterparts for the application of selected themes of research in their own countries.
The FAO computer network will support a multilingual WEB site for disseminating the results through the Internet and for accessing the various datasets developed during the project. Most of the documents will be translated into English and French. Furthermore, an essential component of the FAO technical assistance will be a training scheme for the national scientists.
During the first year of activity, the basic structure of the WEB site will be implemented and a first technical workshop between Italian scientists and their counterparts in developing countries of Mediterranean area will be held in Rome next September 2002.