The Balearic community, due to the inherent conditions of its insularity, has been always aware about the consequences of climate change and global warming, and maintains a strong commitment to the study of this phenomenon.
The LINCC UIB has been created in order to promote interdisciplinary collaboration between its constituent groups of researchers. This institution aims to become a favourable space for the coordination of the multiple research areas existing in our university.
The current atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases such as CO2 are truly alarming, considering that the sea has absorbed a very significant percentage of the emissions that Humanity has released to date. A part of the research work of the LINCC-UIB focuses on the study of the carbon cycle, more specifically, on studying the role played by all its sources and sinks, whether they are natural or anthropogenic. The carbon footprint in the Islands, for example, has been comprehensively evaluated (as part of studies on territory and sustainability). On the other hand, the role of posidonia grasslands in the removal of atmospheric carbon has been also analysed in detail (within studies of different ecosystems). A comprehensive knowledge of the carbon cycle is important when designing mitigation strategies for climate change.
Among the various activities of the LINCC-UIB researchers is the study of atmospheric dynamical and thermodynamic processes, and the tasks of weather forecasting and climate projections. In this sense, observations are analyzed in order to define the global and regional climatic variability at timescales of days, years and centuries. Prediction models and regionalization techniques are also developed and improved. All this in view of a better understanding of the physical basis of climate change and predicting in advance what the main atmospheric changes will be.
Although climate is often understood as a set of atmospheric processes, the oceans play an equally or even more important role than the atmosphere. In fact, the oceans are the true "memory" of the climate and responsible for their long-term responses. For this reason, the oceanographic researchers of the LINCC-UIB work (and also the atmospheric ones), on the physical bases of climate change. It is worth mentioning, for example, that they have generated a set of regional climate scenarios for all Spanish coasts that include temperature, sea level and wave projections, among other variables. These projections are fundamental when it comes to studying the impacts of climate change on ports and beaches, on the fishing sector or on coastal ecosystems.
The ecosystems, both terrestrial and marine, are intimately related to the climate. On one side, they are conditioned by climatic variables such as temperature, precipitation or humidity. On the other, they interact with the climate through the absorption of CO2, as discussed in the section on the carbon cycle. Within the LINCC-UIB there are different research groups in plant and animal biology that study the functioning of different ecosystems and analyse the consequences of climate change (in addition to many other effects of human action). Marine ecosystems are also very relevant in terms of the services that they provide. These include from fishery resources to those related to the coastal systems, on which much relies, for example, the transparency of the waters.
One of the sectors that can suffer the most the impacts of climate change is the agricultural sector. The Mediterranean area, as a transition zone between the subtropical climate of North Africa and the temperate Central European climate, is a particularly vulnerable region. In the LINCC-UIB there is a research group that dedicates its efforts to the study of the adaptation of plants to Mediterranean conditions and the interactions between plants and the sun. Thus, for example, they are studying the changes in the phenology of species such as the Vitis, which has a strategic importance for the agricultural sector of the Mediterranean regions.
On the other hand, some members of this research group are studying the effects of climate change on the phenology of endemic plant species. For example, it has been established that the expansion of summer towards spring or extreme climatic events can have very important consequences on the reproductive success and population dynamics of wild plant species. The group is currently participating in an international project on the effects of climate change on islands and coastal areas declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
The impacts of climate change on health are one of the most worrying aspects. Phenomena such as heat waves or the transmission of new diseases cause concern about their impact on the most vulnerable sectors of the population. In the LINCC-UIB there are members who study the appearance of new vectors for the transmission of diseases or the possible allergic effects derived from the changes in the phenology of plants (especially with regard to pollination).
The nexus between climate change and territory is evident, most notably in islands such as the Balearics. On one side, the population distribution conditions the transport, and the latter the emissions of greenhouse gases. The uses made of the land (residential, agricultural, tourist ...) are also fundamental when determining the climate footprint of our insular society. In the LINCC-UIB there are members who have analysed these linkages and have made a comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, climate change affects and will also affect crucial aspects like the physical and human geography of the territory, such as water resources or future demarcations of coasts based on the new sea levels.
When it comes to economic analysis, the LINCC-UIB puts the emphasis on the study of the economic and social impacts derived from climate change in order to provide relevant information for the design of mitigation and adaptation policies. In a region where tourism is of high importance and increasingly demands high levels of environmental quality, it is easy to see the link between climate change and the derived expected economic impacts. Economic analysis also allows evaluating the effects of this phenomenon on other sectors such as agriculture, fishing or coastal infrastructures. A relevant aspect is that the LINCC-UIB goes one step further and understands economic analysis beyond chrematistics. Indeed, it also recognizes the importance of adopting an ecological perspective, thus advocating, among others, for the need to consider resource scarcity and ecosystems’ carrying capacity in economic models and decision-making processes as well as equality, ethics and social justice when it comes to environmental policy design.
The construction sector occupies a strategic position regarding the reduction of energy consumption, as well as in the necessary adaptation to the effects of climate change of existing buildings and civil projects. The members of LINCC-UIB in the area of construction engineering are experts in reinforcement technologies that extend the service life of existing structures, thereby preventing their demolition, and therefore contributing to decrease the total energy required as throughout the life cycle of buildings and infrastructures.
Climate change is one of the main challenges that humanity has to face: a fundamental challenge because of the extremely serious impacts that can suffer multiple legal rights that usually enjoy special protection, and that affect both individual human rights (right to life, to health, to food, to water, to a healthy environment, or to property, among others) and collective ones (right of self-determination of peoples). The Law plays a crucial role in relation to climate change, whether we refer to the level of intervention (international, state, regional or local), the intervention modality (mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage) or to the actors that intervene through these levels or modalities mentioned above (public, private actors, civil society, citizenship). Inside the framework of the LINCC, all these dimensions are studied in order to provide the best level of analysis and response to the different issues raised, facilitating both knowledge and decision making.
Environmental education is emerging as an educational strategy whereby raise awareness and change behaviors in favor of the environment within the citizenry. That is why, through this transversal axis, we want to contribute to the scientific training and dissemination in relation to climate change. The success of mitigation policies, for example, go through greater citizen awareness, a matter closely linked to education.
Within the LINCC, the normative dimensions involved in climate change are studied in-depth: justice, citizenship, political and moral rights and duties. We also work on the expansive understanding of the community of the responsible and affected agents in three different dimensions: global, inter-generational and interspecific.