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Meteorological risks as drivers of environmental innovation in agro-ecosystem management (MERINOVA).

Context and objectives

Devastating weather-related events have captured the interest of the general public in Belgium. Extreme weather events such as droughts, heat stress, rain storms and floods are projected to increase both in frequency and magnitude with climate change. Since more than half of the Belgian territory is managed by the agricultural sector, extreme events have significant impacts on agro-ecosystem services and pose severe limitations to sustainable agricultural land management. The perspective of rising risk-exposure is exacerbated further by more limits to aid received for agricultural damage and an overall reduction of direct income support to farmers. Current knowledge gaps related to the occurrence of extreme events and the response of agro-ecosystems need to be addressed in conjunction with their vulnerability, resilience and adaptive possibilities.

The proposed project ‘MERINOVA’ deals with risks associated with extreme weather phenomena and with risks of biological origin such as pests and diseases. The project comprises of five major parts that reflect the chain of risks:

  • Hazard. Assessing the likely frequency and magnitude of extreme meteorological events by means of probability density functions;
  • Impact. Analysing the potential bio-physical and socio-economic impact of extreme weather events on agro-ecosystems in Belgium using process-based modelling techniques commensurate with the regional scale;
  • Vulnerability. Identifying the most vulnerable agro-ecosystems using fuzzy multi-criteria and spatial analysis;
  • Risk Management. Uncovering innovative risk management and adaptation options using actor-network theory and fuzzy cognitive mapping techniques;
  • Communication. Communicating to research, policy and practitioner communities using web-based techniques.

The different tasks of the MERINOVA project require expertise in several scientific disciplines: meteorology, statistics, spatial database management, agronomy, bio-physical impact modelling, socio-economic modelling, actor-network theory, fuzzy cognitive mapping techniques. These expertises are shared by the four scientific partners who each lead one work package. The partners are RMI, VITO, CRAW, and UGent. Specifically, the RMI was responsible for Work Package 1: Hazards: the occurrence of extreme weather events in Belgium.

 

Methodology

We defined risks associated with severe weather events which have an important impact on agro-ecosystems such as high precipitation (waterlogging, floods), high/low temperatures (heat waves, frosts), and droughts. Precipitation amounts were considered for several rainfall durations from 10 min up to 30 days. Regarding extreme temperature, we have considered hot summer extremes and cold winter extremes. Particular attention was paid to the study of droughts. Roughly speaking, there are three main ways to define droughts: meteorological-, hydrological- and agricultural droughts. We are mainly interested in the latter two definitions. we can define agricultural droughts by using potential evapotranspiration of crops.

The research was based on the climatological series provided by the RMI. The main goal was to apply extreme value theory (EVT) to climatological series, with a view to agricultural applications. A reliable prediction of the likelihood of rare but plausible events, allows EVT to be applicable in many domains of environmental research, e.g. climate, hydrology, soil analysis.

 

Results

The generalized extreme value (GEV) distribution is used to model annual rainfall maxima, annual number of consecutive rainy/dry days, annual precipitation deficit, and annual minimum and maximum temperature. The T-year return level is defined as a value which, on average, is exceeded once in T years. They can be easily calculated by means of the GEV-distribution. For adequate risk management, continuous return level maps are often needed. This requires the computation of spatial estimates of return levels. An example of 20-year return level maps is given below for precipitation deficit (four cover types: water, grass, coniferous forest, and deciduous forest). More details can be found in the final report (Gobin et al., 2017).

 

Figure. 20-Year return level maps for precipitation deficit (mm), obtained by the spatial GEV method (Zamani et al., 2016).

Execution

Period: June 1, 2012 – May 31, 2016
Funding source: Belgian Science Policy Office (Belspo) Science for a Sustainable Development (SSD) Programme (contract SD/RI/03A).
Project manager: Anne Gobin (VITO).
RMI participant: Hans Van de Vyver.

 

References

Final report:

Gobin, A., Van de Vyver, H., Vanwindekens, F., Curnel, Y., Planchon, V., Verspecht, A., de Frutos Cachorro, J., Buysse, J., 2017: Meteorological risks as drivers of environmental innovation in agro ecosystem management. Final Report. Brussels: Belgian Science Policy 2017 - 47 p.

Peer reviewed:

Van de Vyver, H. 2012: Spatial regression models for extreme precipitation in Belgium. Water Resources Research 48 W09549.

Van de Vyver, H. 2015: On the estimation of continuous 24-h precipitation maxima. Stochastic Environmental Research & Risk Assessment 29, 653--663 

Van de Vyver, H., 2015: Bayesian estimation of rainfall intensity–duration–frequency relationships. Journal of Hydrology 529 1451—1463.

Zamani, S.; Gobin, A.; Van de Vyver, H.; Gerlo, J., 2016: Atmospheric drought in Belgium - statistical analysis of precipitation deficit. International Journal of Climatology 36 pp. 3056–3071.

National Journals:

Van de Vyver, H., 2013. Practical return level mapping for extreme precipitation in Belgium. Wetenschappelijke en Technische Publicatie 62, Koninklijk Meteorologisch Instituut van België

International Conferences, posters and abstracts:

Van de Vyver, H. Spatial regression models for extreme precipitation in Belgium, 2nd Conference on Modelling Hydrology, Climate and Land Surface Processes, 10th-12th of September 2012 –Losby Gods, Norway.

Van de Vyver, H.: Spatial regression models for extreme precipitation. Facets of Uncertainty, Kos Island, Greece, 17—19 October 2013.

Gobin, A., Van de Vyver, H., Oger, R., Curnel, Y., Zamani, S., Vandermeulen, V., Marlier, C., Van Huylenbroeck, G., 2013. Poster on MERINOVA. In natural hazards session on climate impacts on agriculture at the EGU 2013 General Assembly in Vienna.

Curnel, Y., Gobin, A., Van de Vyver, H., Zamani, S., Verspecht, A., Planchon, V., 2014. MERINOVA: meteorological risks as drivers of environmental innovation in agro-ecosystem, poster, FACCE. MACSUR mid-term meeting, 01-03 April 2014, Université de Sassari, Italy.

Curnel Y., Gobin A., Zamani S., Van de Vyver H., Verspecht A., Van Huylenbroeck G., Planchon V. (2014). MERINOVA project: ’Meteorological risks as drivers of environmental innovation in agroecosystems management’. Talk at the 19th Triennial Conference of the European Association for Potato Research (Brussels 6-11 July 2014).

Zamani, S., Van de Vyver, H., Gobin, A., 2014: Spatial analysis of extreme precipitation deficit as an index for atmospheric drought in Belgium. In natural hazards session at the EGU 2014 General Assembly in Vienna.

Van de Vyver, H.: Bayesian estimation of rainfall intensity-duration-frequency relationships (invited speaker). Workshop on “Variability of precipitation at different temporal scales: from long term trends to flush flood events”, June, 12-13th 2014, Madird. Organization by the Spanish Committee WCRP. 

Gobin, A., Van de Vyver, Zamani, S., Curnel, Y., Planchon, V., Verspecht, A., Van Huylenbroeck, G., 2014. The MERINOVA project: application to potato cultivation in Belgium. 19th triennial conference by the European Association for Potato Research (EAPR) in Brussels from 6-11 July 2014.

Gobin, A., Van de Vyver, Zamani, S., Curnel, Y., Planchon, V., Verspecht, A., Van Huylenbroeck, G., 2014. The MERINOVA project. Presentation within the frame of the COST MCM meeting on the water footprint for agriculture.

Curnel Y., Vanwindekens F., Gobin A., Zamani S., Van de Vyver H., Verspecht A., Van Huylenbroeck G., Planchon V., 2015. Projet MERINOVA : ‘Les risques météorologiques comme moteurs d’innovation environnementale dans la gestion des agro-écosystèmes’. Oral presentation at the Colloque du réseau scientifique wallon Agriculture – Changement climatique (FACCE-WB) «Quel climat pour l’agriculture? Quelle agriculture pour le climat?» (Arlon, 20 May 2015).

Gobin, A., Van de Vyver, H., Oger, R., Curnel, Y., Zamani, S., Vandermeulen, V., Marlier, C., Van Huylenbroeck, G., 2015. Meteorological risks as drivers of innovation for agroecosystem management. EGU 2015 General Assembly in Vienna, Austria.

Gobin, A., Van de Vyver, H., Vanwindekens, F., Planchon, V., Verspecht, A., Frutos de Cachorro, J., Buysse, J., 2016. Meteorological risks are drivers of environmental innovation in agro-ecosystem management. EGU 2016 General Assembly in Vienna, Austria.

National conference

Van de Vyver, H.: Algemene toelichting rond gewijzigde klimaatpatronen en extreme weersomstandigheden. Studiedag "Goed geboerd? Ook het klimaat is u dankbaar!" Agriflanders, Gent, 11 januari 2013.