Ecotechnology Research Centre, Cranfield
- UK Nonlinear News,
ERMES I & II
An Integrated Methodology for Projecting the Impact of
Climate Change and Human Activity on Soil Erosion and Ecosystem
Degradation in the Mediterranean: A Climatological Gradient and Dynamic
The general objective is to develop an improved basis and practical modelling tools
that allow projections to be made about the future risks resulting from climate
change and human activity in the Mediterranean limestone and marl areas. The
approach is to apply a complex systems methodology that requires i) field studies
along climatological transects, ii) response unit methodology development and iii)
The specific objectives may be summarised as:
Specifically, the IERC is developing an integrated, multi-scale self-organizing
model setting the problems of erosion and desertification within a holistic
framework of nested "response units". The approach will use data collected by
ERMES I and other EU projects, and will decide on the key variables that need to
be described by the models. We shall also collect data concerning land-use,
demography and climatic change over the past 50 years. Interviews will be carried
out with farmers in the region to obtain details about the past and present
concerning farm sizes, disperal, cropping, productivity levels, farming inputs, water
use and source, water quality and availability, technologies and soil qualities. This
will allow a parametrization of farmers' responses to any changing situation, and an
estimate of the delays involved in these responses.
- To obtain harmonised data and undertake basic studies of key processes of
erosion and desertification along climatologically documented transects in Alicante,
Crete and Israel.
- To establish from field studies, models and remote sensing how climate
influences processes inducing soil erosion and ecosystem degradation.
- To develop a methodology (response unit, modelling and remote sensing for a)
scaling up process pattern relationships, and b) integrating climatologically, socio-
economically and biophysically driven processes.
- To implement the methodology 3) in a pilot area (in Alicante) to make
projections about the future impact of climate change on soil erosion and
Also, models will be developed that link vegetation cover, porosity, soil micro-
organisms, root systems and the grazing activities of herbivores in order to generate
the emergence of a first level of response unit. This will be developed into a
hierarchical framework that will link the local response units to the field scale, and
these in turn to the larger scale sctructures of kilometres, taking us towards the
scale of the whole landscape, and of that easily related to remote sensing. At each
scale the model will capture the co-evolution of the units, and the spatial
organization that may result spontaneously through the non-linear interactions.
These models will then be integrated with the socio-economic models generated
from the modelling of farmers' decision making. Scenarios of climate change, of
land use responses and of the response of the vegetation, hydrology, soil and
erodability will then be possible.
In addition to this, the model developed previously in the Archaeomedes project
will be further developed in this way, so as to produce an integrated improved
version, linking multiple spatial scales.
- Professor Peter M.Allen
- International Ecotechnology Research Centre,
- Cranfield University
- associated with University of Molise, Italy (Mazzoleni), Bar Ilan University
(Lavee) and the University of Amsterdam (Imeson)
- University of Valencia, Department of Geography, Faculty of Geography and
History, Spain (Calvo, UVEG)
- Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Department of Desertification,
- National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Department of Ecology and
Systematics, Faculty of Biology, Greece (Arianoutsou, University of Athens)
- University of Trier, FB VI Geography/ Geosciences, Remote Sensing Department,
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Last Updated: 7th October 1996.