Enhancing the In-situ Environmental Observations across Under-sampled Deserts

Duration: 01/03/2023 – 28/02/2026   |   Total Funding: € 3,147,975

Challenge

Desert ecosystems are predicted to be one of the most vulnerable ecosystems to global climate change; rising temperature, decreasing rainfall, and increasing atmospheric CO2, are expected to strongly affect the structure and function of desert ecosystems. Desert-adapted species are vulnerable to climate change and among them, endemic plant species are particularly susceptible to the loss of suitable habitat. The negative effect of climate change on desert plants has been demonstrated worldwide. However, desert ecosystems and local meteorological conditions can differ so much that over the last 15 years, some deserts have taken on a greener appearance. Increasing temperatures cause more evaporation over the sea, which causes condensation to fall onto dry land. For example, in the middle Sahara, rainfall is greater, especially in the summer. According to climate change specialists, such enormous increases will eventually reshape desert ecosystems. The rapid development of plants is likely to disrupt finely balanced desert ecosystems, altering the nutrition cycle, fire cycle, and water distribution. Furthermore, climate change effects in desert areas affect also, in great extent, neighbouring areas, where dust storms can travel thousands of kilometres across countries and continents carrying along other pollutants on the way and depositing particles far away from their origin. Desert dust outbreaks from north Africa are a common occurrence in the Mediterranean Basin. The prevalence of this sort of particulate matter in combination with others (most notably, anthropogenic pollution from intensive human activity) makes air quality in this region a serious concern. Taking into account that remote places, such as semi-arid and desert regions, generally lack ground-based observational networks, satellite-derived data is used to estimate the great majority of surface and near-surface meteorological parameters. These datasets, however, are known to have large biases, making it difficult to test and calibrate the performance of a numerical models. Surface fields, such as temperature and relative humidity, can be more accurately estimated using ground-based measurements and can also be combined with Artificial Intelligence trained models to enhance the capabilities of existing satellite data. Moreover, they can be used to evaluate and calibrate numerical models, as well as to review satellite-derived data and optimise retrieval methods, as well as to gain insight into local atmospheric dynamics.

CiROCCO’s vision is to establish an end-to-end sensing system, composed of a distributed network of cost-effective sensing nodes coupled with state-of-the-art data fusion remote sensing and assimilation modelling techniques. The defined network of sensors will enhance the current lack of ground observation in desert areas offering an operational and in parallel easy-to-maintain and -expand solution. Commercialisation services will ensure the installation’s sustainability and simultaneously the findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability (FAIR) management of data will support Cross-COPERNICUS ecosystem integration and assimilation services.

Project Objectives

1

Install and operate in-situ, low-cost, stand-alone, electronic sensing nodes in close collaboration with post-project operating entities, having a real interest from local communities, including the commercial sector, offering a clear sustainability and commercialisation path beyond the project’s duration.

2

Establish a low-cost and sustainable network of electronic sensing nodes in under-sampled desert areas and ecosystems in Egypt, Serbia and Spain.

3

Develop data processing services based upon Information and Communication Technologies infrastructure that allows to gain access to data from hard-to-reach, under-sampled areas, and further improve their quality by data fusion services.

4

Provide data for the research community, aiming to enhance climate change models and further support the research for the European Green Deal challenges; this includes the development of better dust particle movement models and increase the understanding of dust movement towards the European territory, as well as providing Renewable Energy Systems Planning and Ecosystem Management services.

5

Cross-COPERNICUS ecosystem integration and assimilation.

6

Accelerate the adoption of the CiROCCO’s tools and services by the wider community to ensure impact maximisation.

Role in the Project

eBOS’ technical role in the project is the translation of the functional and non-functional pilot requirements into technical specifications, for the development of the technological components of CiROCCO. eBOS leads the pilots Work Package, and specifically the scene set-up, benchmarking definition, operational management and DevOps task. eBOS is also responsible for developing and prototyping the low-cost, in-situ, electronic sensing nodes that will be used in the high-density sensor network, aiming to enhance the measurement resolution in hard-to-reach areas. Furthermore, eBOS acts as the project’s Quality Assurance manager, contributes to the elaboration of CiROCCO’s dissemination and sustainability plans and plans to maximise the project’s impact by presenting the project’s results to key membership associations.

Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.