IMPRESSIONS' Success Story: Creating workable scenarios to deal with climate change

IMPRESSIONS is now featured in the European Commission's Success Story rubric, among other projects which managed to exhibit research and results of great social and scientific value. The article dedicated to IMPRESSIONS focuses on the potential of our innovative climate change modelling framework.

Here is some of the story:

Predicting the consequences of climate change is highly complex as it interacts with and is influenced by many other factors, including socio-economic change, human capacity to adapt, consumption patterns and sustainability goals.

To try to make sense of such complexities and help European policymakers design solutions based on sound information, the EU-funded IMPRESSIONS project has developed an innovative modelling framework. This is based on four possible scenarios which the team has applied to five case studies in Scotland, Iberia, Hungary, Europe as a whole, and Central Asia.

The project used a wide range of different models to explore the impacts of high-end climate change on agriculture, biodiversity, urban development, forestry, water resources, flooding and human health. It considered interactions between these different sectors as they compete for resources such as land, water and energy and, where possible, took account of interactions across scales, such as how trade flows at the global level define the level of food imports to Europe. 

Find the full article here.

Overview of EU Climate Change Adaptation Projects

A comprehensive EU resource combining information and synthesising the essence of selected EU project showcases strategies for seeking adaptation solutions. IMPRESSIONS together with our sister project HELIX are both featured in the High-end Solutions section. The document also covers topics such as Nature Based Solutions, Disaster Risk Reduction and Economics of Adaptation.

"Over the past 2 years, we have asked over 70 of our Framework Programme 7 and Horizon 2020 projects to re-align their objectives with those of the Paris Agreement and its 1.5°C/2°C goal. We are grateful for their flexibility and their strong commitment to make their results relevant for decision and policymaking. In line with this request, the projects in this booklet have provided information on risks and impacts of global warming above 1.5°C/2°C and the costs and benefits of adaptation. They have helped to make our crops and forests more resilient to climate change, improved the capacity to protect our societies from climate-related threats, and fostered the development of nature-based solutions and climate services to support decision-making."

All details in the official booklet.

The IMPRESSIONS Policy Day: Final event envisions future steps

What could high-end climate change (warming of above 2°C) lead to? How can we prevent dramatic climate and socio-economic scenarios? These are some of the questions researched within the IMPRESSIONS project and presented at the Policy Day in Brussels on 22 October 2018.

IMPRESSIONS Final dissemination event in Brussels

The final policy event encompassed the mission of IMPRESSIONS, as well as the value and impact of the project with respect to the results and case studies conducted within the five year collaboration of 26 partners from 16 European countries. The work behind the IMPRESSIONS project and the next steps towards achieving the vision were key topics at the Policy Day in Brussels, with policy integration being crucial in response to high-end climate change.

Within a panel debate, participants talked about the integrated climate and socio-economic scenarios and modelling the impacts of high-end climate change. With lots of discussions over lunch and coffee, participants covered a wide range of topics related to the impacts of high-end climate change and the effectiveness of solutions to high-end scenarios.  

At the Final Policy event, IMPRESSIONS launched the High-end solutions Information Hub, a new online resource, which provides comprehensive knowledge on the nature and scale of more extreme and long-term consequences of climate and socio-economic change. With strong visual illustration of the researched topics, the tool is created to guide scientists and decision-makers working on adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development through the collections of results, recommendations and methods.


High-end Solutions to Extreme Climate Change in a New Online Resource

With climate change becoming an increasingly hot topic globally, the EU-funded project IMPRESSIONS launches a new online resource to provide a scientifically robust and policy-relevant understanding of the nature and scale of more extreme and long-term consequences of climate and socio-economic change, and guide the use of this knowledge by decision-makers working on adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development.

The climate is changing, largely due to the warming effects of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and other human-made emissions. We are not yet on track to meet the Paris Agreement goal to limit global average temperatures to 2°C (and ideally 1.5°C) above pre-industrial levels. Current greenhouse gas emission trends point to much more substantial warming, with possible increases of 4°C or more in the long-term, which could be devastating in many different ways.

The High-end Solutions Information Hub is a synthesis of the knowledge and results acquired during a 5-year collaboration of 26 partners from different scientific backgrounds and 16 European countries, who have worked intensively with numerous stakeholders. The resource guides scientists and practitioners alike through interactive and user-friendly collections of results, recommendations and methods, to assist decision-making and future research in adaptation and mitigation measures in a future involving extreme climate and socio-economic change.

The IMPRESSIONS project researched what a future above 2°C could look like, which we define as "high-end climate change". The project also assessed what decisions we can take to help reduce the impacts of such high-end climate change.

However, climate change isn’t the only problem the world faces; we live in a world with poverty, poor health, water shortages, a lack of food security, land degradation, resource depletion, mounting social inequalities and weak governance systems. These global problems are all closely interlinked and our current solutions for tackling them tend to be over-simplistic.

IMPRESSIONS has modelled the possible impacts of high-end climate change combined with other key global challenges for five case studies across Europe and Central Asia. Stakeholders have helped develop a vision for what we want the year 2100 to look like, as well as pathways and concrete guidelines for action to move society closer to this vision of a sustainable future.

All this knowledge is collected and presented for future use via the IMPRESSIONS High-end Solutions Information Hub, where interested parties can find useful results and methodology organised by Key Questions and Case Study Area:

Key Questions:

Case Studies:

"We need considerably greater mitigation efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement target, and so it is important that we also prepare for the consequences of high-end climate change. Our research shows that concerted and coordinated action is needed at all scales and in all sectors to develop and implement pathways for adaptation, mitigation and transformation towards sustainable lifestyles and economies," explains project co-ordinator Prof Prof Paula Harrison, Center for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), UK.

The new resource is openly available at Twelve explanatory videos are available in the Information Hub and also on our YouTube Channel.





IMPRESSIONS at the ESP Regional Europe Conference 2018, Spain

In October, IMPRESSIONS joined the ESP Regional Europe conference 2018, held in San Sebastian, Spain in order to reach out to nearly 500 attendants from diverse research and industry backgrounds.

Themed Ecosystem services in a changing world: From theory to practice, the conference was dedicated to bringing scientific knowledge and recent findings relevant to ecosystem services to the roundtables of policy makers and stakeholders. Thereby, the event proved a perfect fit for IMPRESSIONS’ objective to raise awareness about alternative high-end climate change scenarios on both national and global level.

With the interplay between climate change, ecosystem services and environmental policies made well evident throughout the otherwise varied sessions, the conference served to demonstrate the significance of effective collaboration and coordination across disciplines and expertise.


Article Alert: Determining sectoral and regional sensitivity to climate and socio-economic change in Europe

New IMPRESSIONS supported publication titled Determining sectoral and regional sensitivity to climate and socio-economic change in Europe using impact response surfaces conducts a sensitivity analysis using a suite of impact models (for health, agriculture, biodiversity, land use, floods and forestry) across Europe with respect to changes in key climate and socio-economic variables. The paper was published in Regional Environmental Change and is available open access. 


Responses to future changes in climatic and socio-economic conditions can be expected to vary between sectors and regions, reflecting differential sensitivity to these highly uncertain factors. A sensitivity analysis was conducted using a suite of impact models (for health, agriculture, biodiversity, land use, floods and forestry) across Europe with respect to changes in key climate and socio-economic variables. Depending on the indicators, aggregated grid or indicative site results are reported for eight rectangular sub-regions that together span Europe from northern Finland to southern Spain and from western Ireland to the Baltic States and eastern Mediterranean, each plotted as scenario-neutral impact response surfaces (IRSs). These depict the modelled behaviour of an impact variable in response to changes in two key explanatory variables. To our knowledge, this is the first time the IRS approach has been applied to changes in socio-economic drivers and over such large regions. The British Isles region showed the smallest sensitivity to both temperature and precipitation, whereas Central Europe showed the strongest responses to temperature and Eastern Europe to precipitation. Across the regions, sensitivity to temperature was lowest for the two indicators of river discharge and highest for Norway spruce productivity. Sensitivity to precipitation was lowest for intensive agricultural land use, maize and potato yields and Scots pine productivity, and highest for Norway spruce productivity. Under future climate projections, North-eastern Europe showed increases in yields of all crops and productivity of all tree species, whereas Central and East Europe showed declines. River discharge indicators and forest productivity (except Holm oak) were projected to decline over southern European regions. Responses were more sensitive to socio-economic than to climate drivers for some impact indicators, as demonstrated for heat-related mortality, coastal flooding and land use.

Original Source: 

Fronzek, S., Carter, T.R., Pirttioja, N. et al. Reg Environ Change (2018).