Thematic workshop: LifeWatch ERIC explores climate change impacts on biodiversity

The second Thematic Workshop, out of a series of six, was organised by LifeWatch Italy. Following the success of the first workshop on Taxonomy hosted by LifeWatch Belgium, this event took place on February 21st and 22nd at the Rectorate Hall of the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy. Over a hundred participants attended the workshop, both online and in person. The workshop’s main objective was to understand and address the ecological impacts of climate change.

LifeWatch ERIC has planned a series of workshops for 2024 that will focus on its Thematic Services, ICT tools to support biodiversity and ecosystems research. Besides exchanging knowledge, these workshops aim to define working groups composed of experts in each thematic service. These experts will work towards continuous improvement by incorporating feedback from researchers and workshop participants. The workshops will occur from January to May 2024 in Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, and Portugal.

The workshop, opened by Alberto Basset – LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre Director and Full Professor of Ecology at the University of Salento – and Antonello Provenzale – LifeWatch Italy Coordinator and Director of the Institute of Geosciences and Georesources of the National Research Council – discussed the threats posed by climate change, agriculture, urbanisation and industrial production to ecosystems. Climate change affects ecosystems and biodiversity, causing increasing salinity levels and sea level rise, population shifts, altering species interactions, and reducing productivity and biomass. The workshop explored how ecosystems respond to the ecological impacts of climate change.

Speakers at the workshop included Doug S. Glazier, who discussed the link between increase in temperatures and individual metabolic responses; Piero Lionello, who showcased AI’s role in estimating coastal lagoons’ responses; and Milad Shokri, who delved into the energetic and behavioural responses of aquatic ectotherms to projected climate change. Gianpaolo Coro examined climate change’s impact on animal presence, while Francesco De Leo demonstrated collaborative coding platforms’ potential for biodiversity and ecosystem research. The symposium covered a spectrum of topics, including the presentation from Mara Baudena on the ecological resilience of Mediterranean forests and the cellular automata models for wildfire-vegetation interaction by Paolo Fiorucci. Marta Magnani focused on identifying environmental drivers of carbon fluxes, and Carmela Marangi delved into modelling soil organic carbon dynamics in wetlands. Jessica Titocci concluded the event by highlighting the monitoring of aquatic primary producers’ response to climate change. To have a look at the presentations, you can visit this link.

Working groups led by the community will be established to address the challenges and enhance collaboration between Common Facilities and Distributed Centers, to review and update the research needs mapping for Thematic Services within national scientific communities and identify construction priorities. This collective effort aims to pave the way for more robust solutions to tackle ongoing climate threats to ecosystems and biodiversity.

For more information and to register for the workshops, please visit our minisite.

The ENVRI-Hub NEXT project has kicked off

The ENVRI-Hub NEXT project, of which LifeWatch ERIC is a consortium member, kicked off on February 1. The project builds upon the solid conceptual and technical foundation established by the ENVRI-Hub. The consortium comprises 21 partners and is attending a face-to-face meeting at the EGI Foundation in Amsterdam Science Park from February 6 to 8.

ENVRI-Hub NEXT aims to expand multidisciplinary environmental sciences by fostering operational synergies between environmental research infrastructures. The project leverages complementarities in data and service provision, enhancing the integration of cutting-edge information technology. It contributes to a more integrated, productive, and globally competitive ENVRI Science Cluster. The project is set to run until January 2027, contributing to the European Open Science Cloud. ENVRI-Hub NEXT also promotes collaboration across environmental research infrastructures.

LifeWatch ERIC is actively contributing to addressing the growing demand for environmental scientific knowledge. Our involvement aligns with the project’s goal of further integrating ENVRIs across subdomains (Atmosphere, Marine, Solid Earth, and Biodiversity/Ecosystems) and horizontally, with the e-infrastructures to leverage the full potential of the ENVRI cluster for integrated environmental research.

ENVRI-Hub NEXT aligns with the World Meteorological Organisation’s set of Essential Climate Variables (ECV) and global climate indicators to transform integrated Earth observation into a concept for a global climate observation system. These variables provide empirical evidence crucial for understanding and predicting climate evolution, guiding mitigation and adaptation.

Stay tuned for the launch of the ENVRI-Hub NEXT website.

RESTORE4Cs will participate in the Wetlands Conference 2024

RESTORE4Cs – the project participated by LifeWatch ERIC on modelling wetland restoration – will be present at the International Conference Conservation and Management of Wetlands to Tackle Climate Change from 14 to 16 February in Valencia, Spain.

The event is organised by Fundación Global Nature together with the University of Valencia, the Generalitat Valenciana and the City Council of Valencia. The aim is to share the latest scientific and technical advances on wetlands and climate change and their crucial role. The discussions will mainly centre around governance frameworks, opportunities for creating green jobs, and the pressing need for conservation efforts.

The conference on conservation and management of wetlands will bring together researchers, policymakers, representatives from international organisations, and other stakeholders. The goal is to facilitate international networking and serve as a platform for sharing scientific and technical advancements. Practitioners and managers will be equipped with the necessary tools for the sustainable management of wetlands. Also, this will enable them to make strategic decisions in the face of global change. This year’s focus is on the Mediterranean, which has depleted over 50% of its natural wetlands since 1970.

LifeWatch ERIC – who oversees the project’s communication and dissemination – will attend the conference in collaboration with MedWet. Other RESTORE4Cs partners, including the University of Aveiro, the University of Barcelona, the European Topic Centre at the University of MalagaWasserCluster Lunz & the University of Vienna, and Tour du Valat, will also attend the conference as members of the scientific committee.

For those unable to attend in person, the conference will be available via streaming. For more information, please visit the official website

LifeWatch ERIC at the EOSC Winter School 2024 in Thessaloniki

eosc winter school

The EOSC Winter School 2024 took place in Thessaloniki, Greece, from January 29 to February 1. The meeting aimed to establish a solid foundation to encourage innovation, accelerate scientific discoveries, and empower researchers across Europe and beyond. The meeting gathered representatives from all EOSC-related projects. The discussions included policy recommendations, concrete case studies, and information exchange on future models. The event was held at the Mediterranean Palace, offering a focused environment for mutual learning and networking.

Our CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, attended the meeting as LifeWatch ERIC leads Work Package Number 6 (WP6) of the EOSC Future project. This Horizon 2020 project aims to implement the European Open Science Cloud, supporting the establishment of a reliable platform for open science where data, resources, and services in all scientific disciplines will be available in a fair and accessible manner. 

Following a suggestion of the European Commission, the EOSC Association, organised the EOSC Winter School to address the need for a collective knowledge environment that promotes an inclusive and interconnected research ecosystem for all consortium partners contributing to EOSC, which emerged during the latest coordination meetings.

The school was opened by  Ute Gunsenheimer (EOSC Association) with the inauguration of the Plenary Session, followed by engaging discussions bringing together diverse perspectives and providing a rich blend of insights and experiences.

One of the short-term objectives is to ensure that the Task Forces of the EOSC Association collaborate in a structured manner with the EOSC projects. This collaboration should be hands-on and technical, with a focus on the six identified Opportunity Areas (PIDs, Metadata, Ontologies & Interoperability, FAIR Assessment & Alignment, User & Resource Environments, Skills, Training, Rewards, Recognition & Upskilling, and Open Scholarly Communication).

Mid-term objectives aim to ensure seamless project onboarding and shape EOSC’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) 2.0 through inter-project collaborations. In the long term, the objectives are to increase the potential of Horizon Europe’s EOSC-related projects to deliver sustainable results that benefit the ESOC deployment and maximise project impact. 

To learn more about the EOSC Winter School in 2024, please visit the official webpage.

World Wetlands Day: How our wellbeing relies on restoring wetlands

world wetlands day

Today, 2 February 2024, is the 27th World Wetlands Day. As The World Health Organization said, our well-being depends on the stability of our climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development. Wetlands play a significant role in connecting all three factors.

For instance, just an acre of wetlands can hold up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater, protecting coastal areas against natural disasters. Peatlands have the potential to store twice as much carbon as the global forest biomass. Wetlands also provide food for up to 4.5 billion people annually through the fish and rice paddies harvested from them.

On this day, we would like to draw attention to an article created as part of the RESTORE4Cs project, in which LifeWatch ERIC participate. The project aims to model wetland restoration for carbon pathways, climate change mitigation and adaptation, ecosystem services, and biodiversity co-benefits.

“For centuries people have found solace in remote wetlands, but there is now evidence that spending time in places like these actually helps boost mental health. This is particularly essential for the dark winter months in northern latitude”,

Mark Reed, Professor of Rural Entrepreneurship at Scotland’s Rural College

Despite this history, we are now losing these ecosystems alarmingly. The 2018 Global Wetland Outlook from the Ramsar Convention revealed that one third of the wetlands have been lost globally since 1970, mainly to urbanization and agriculture. A key theme of World Wetlands Day 2024 is the need to act now, and Europe’s researchers believe we already have solutions to turn things around.

“I think global treaties and recent EU laws mean we’re in the right decade to restore these ecosystems”

Dania Abdul Malak, Director of European Topic Centre for Spatial Analysis and Synthesis at the University of Malaga

Nowadays there are policies that can really help reestablish their function, and make sure they can also provide ecosystem services. Restoring wetland ecosystems will become critical for a more sustainable climate, biodiversity and human wellbeing by 2030.

Matuesz Grygoruk, Professor at Warsaw University of Life Sciences’ (SGGW) Department of Hydrology, Meteorology and Water Management

Mateusz suggested prioritising wetland restoration as a central focus in determining environmental management actions. He argued that these efforts are crucial in restoring the functions of wetlands, which are irreplaceable through any other management measures.

Restoring wetlands can have significant benefits, such as improving their biodiversity, water storage capacity, and ability to sequester carbon in soil. WET HORIZONS, a sister project of RESTORE4Cs, aims to enhance wetlands restoration and support European wetland policy.

To learn more about RESTORE4Cs and their commitment to World Wetlands Day, visit this project page.