This year’s ITC Publication Award has been presented to Guillaume Rohat, who is pursuing a joint doctoral degree at the University of Geneva and the University of Twente. His paper “Influence of changes in socioeconomic and climatic conditions on future heat-related health challenges in Europe”, co-authored by Johannes Flacke and Martin van Maarseveen from the PGM Department of ITC, Hy Dao (University of Geneva), Alessandro Dosio (JRC), and Simona Pedde (Wageningen University), was published in the Global and Planetary Change journal earlier this year.
More often than not, assessments of future climate risks are based on future climatic conditions superimposed on current socioeconomic conditions only. Bearing in mind the main challenges associated with quantitative assessment of future socio-climatic vulnerability, the PhD project of Guillaume will develop and test new approaches – based on the combination of climate and socioeconomic scenarios – to quantitatively assess future urban socio-climatic vulnerability and to explore the influence of adaptation options under multiple futures.
In Guillaume’s paper, European Shared Socioeconomic Pathways are combined with Representative Concentration Pathways to provide spatially explicit European projections of heat-related health risk that account for multiple changes in both socioeconomic and climatic conditions. Consistent projections up to 2050 of several socioeconomic variables – such as GDP per capita, population distribution, urbanization, ageing, education, pre-existing medical conditions, and social isolation – were developed in order to explore future populations' abilities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from extreme heat events.
Results reveal that the proportion of the European population at very high risk of heat stress will steadily increase from 0.4% currently to 20.3%, 32.6%, or 48.4% in 2050 depending on the scenario combination, unless substantial political changes occur rapidly and steadily shift the current socioeconomic development pathway towards sustainability. Resulting future heat-related health challenges are unevenly spread across Europe, with the Mediterranean region and Scandinavia being respectively the most and the least impacted regions. Future heat-related health challenges are substantially influenced by varying levels of socioeconomic development, while changes in population exposure being only of secondary importance.
The ITC Publication Award is presented annualy to a PhD candidate for main authorship of an outstanding scientific paper dealing with geo-information science and/or earth observation, as part of her/his PhD study at the ITC Faculty of Geo-informaton Science and Earth Observation of the University of Twente. The award is accompanied by a prize-winning cheque of € 1,000.
Full details of the publication: Guillaume Rohat, Johannes Flacke, Alessandro Dosio, Simona Pedde, Hy Dao, Martin van Maarseveen; Influence of changes in socioeconomic and climatic conditions on future heat-related health challenges in Europe; Global and Planetary Change; Volume 172, 2019, Pages 45-59; ISSN 0921-8181; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2018.09.013.