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In terms of climatic change an climate impacts, this domain is relative newcomer to the University, but has rapidly closed the gap by appointing the coordinator, Martin Benison, in October 2006 full Professor and head of C3i (Climatic Change and Climate Impacts Research), and his research team.

Martin Beniston, who will act as coordinator, is full professor and occupies the Chair for Climate Research at the University of Geneva. He holds a Bachelor Honours degree in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia, a Masters degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Reading, a doctorate from the University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris) in atmospheric modelling, and a habilitation from ETH-Zurich in climate modelling. He has worked as a researcher in Paris, Canada, the Max-Planck-Institute in Hamburg, and at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne. He chaired the Swiss National Climate Program in Berne from 1990-1992, then shared his time between the IPCC (as one of the “Impacts” working group co-chairs from 1992-1997) and senior scientist at ETH-Zurich. He was appointed full professor and head of the Geosciences Department of the University of Fribourg in 1996 and held that position for 10 years until his latest appointment in Geneva in October, 2006. He has a long-standing experience in the organization of many scientific activities, in particular in the context of the IPCC Second Assessment Report published in 1996. He is the initiator of the international Wengen Workshops on Global Change Research, and series editor of Advances in Global Change Research (Springer Publishers).

He has been a partner in many EU projects since the early 1990s (ECOMONT; SIDDACLICH; PRUDENCE; ENSEMBLES) and is familiar with the administrative and scientific procedures inherent to EU projects. He has a large number of peer-reviewed publications on a variety of topics linking climatic change and mountain environments, and in addition has authored two books (Beniston, 2000; Beniston, 2004) and edited several others on these themes with major international publishers (Beniston, 1994; Diaz et al., 1998; Visconti et al., 1999; Beniston, 2002). The University of Geneva and the proposed coordinator is thus an appropriate choice for a project such as ACQWA.

An as-yet-to be named Director and Secretary will provide the necessary support for all activities and decisions that will take place in the context of ACQWA management.

The coordinor will also manage the “Dissemination and Outreach” work package (WP5).

Markus Stoffel was appointed Senior Researcher in 2006 at the Universities of Fribourg and Geneva and has been in charge of the Laboratory of Dendrogeomorphology of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, since its beginnings in July 2000. His education and training ranges from Physical Geography at the University of Fribourg (BSc, MSc and PhD), to an MSc degree in media and communication sciences, also at the University of Fribourg. He has acquired and/or managed several national and international projects (including currently the outreach and education module of the FP6 project ENSEMBLES). He is a reviewer for a number of international journals and has published over 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals since the end of his PhD thesis in 2005.

The expertise on tree-ring analysis of geomorphic processes, and their socio-economic impacts that was developed initially at the University of Fribourg, will be housed at the University of Geneva for the duration of the ACQWA Project. The Laboratory of Dendrogeomorphology, created and managed by Dr. Stoffel, focuses on the incidence of past, current as well as potential future geomorphic processes in mountain regions. These topics are well suited to the inherently cross-disciplinary nature of climate and climate-impacts research. Dr. Stoffel and his team collaborate on both the national and international levels, as well as with a number of government agencies. International contacts include the IGME (Madrid, Spain), the School of Geography (University of Bristol, UK), the Department of Geography (University of San Marcos, Texas, U.S.), the Department of Geography (University of Western Ontario, Canada), Cemagref Grenoble (St. Martin d’Hères cedex, France), and CNRS Bellevue (Meudon, France). Dr. Stoffel has been active in EU projects in the context of Framework Programme 6 (ENSEMBLES project).



Within the University of Geneva, one of the partners of WP4 will be dealing with energy issues by the group on Energy and Economy problems.

Among the principal areas of research are renewable energy technologies, including hydropower, energy savings, low-energy building design and the sustainability of energy sources in urban areas.

Franco Romerio is an internationally-recognized specialist on renewable energies and their sustainability, and has applied his research methodologies to numerous case-study regions, including Switzerland, the United States, the Middle East and South-East Asia.



The data warehouse and data exchange between the ACQWA partners will be managed by UNIGE-GRID.

The Global Resource Information Database (GRID) is a worldwide network of 15 environmental data centres. It is part of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The GRID network was first launched in 1985 with centres in Geneva and Nairobi. GRID-Europe’s principal activity is to provide high-quality environmental data and information, to underpin UNEP’s review of the state of the environment and provide early warning on emerging environmental threats. At the same time, GRID-Europe offers technical services and develops value-added environmental products to support the work of other entities on a case-by-case basis. Over the years, the office has compiled an extensive archive of geo-spatial and tabular databases, and is currently using state-of-the-art information technology to make them accessible to the global community through Internet-based applications. To advance the development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) for climatic and hydrological modelling, we offer competencies in the following specific domains:

- Geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and modelling to provide: better insights to decision-makers, sustainable use of natural resources, analysis of emerging environmental problems and threats. Recent applications in this domain include:

  • Lake Balaton Integrated Vulnerability Assessment, Early Warning and Adaptation Strategies project was launched by UNEP’s Division of Early Warning and Assessment, the Lake Balaton Development Council (LBDC) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). GRID-Europe is responsible for data management, Internet Map Server and hydrological modelling (
  • IMOS: Evolution of the Mesopotamian marshlands ecosystem. GRID-Europe is embarked on a joint study to monitor environmental change in the Tigris-Euphrates drainage basin. Remotely sensed imagery is used to assess changes that have taken place in the region over the past 30 years (1970-2000)(

- Integration, dissemination and communication of geographic information visually on the World Wide Web through a GIS (web mapping). GRID-Europe is responsible for the complete design, data gathering and formatting, and on-line interface of several data portals and map servers such as:

  • Metafunctions: The EU FP6 METAFUNCTIONS project, which started on 1 October 2005, is pooling expertise in bioinformatics, computer science, geographical information systems and marine sciences to develop a data-mining system that correlates genetic patterns in genomes with contextual environmental data. (
  • The GEO Data Portal, the authoritative source for data sets used by UNEP and its partners in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report; the portal allows easy display of data interactively and as dynamically generated maps, graphs and tables (

Other web-based GIS services include the European Internet Map Server, and Africa GIS-Web portal which permit to create dynamic maps and related GIS databases on Africa’s physical environment. The collaboration already established by GRID-Europe with other institutions specialized in GIS will provide access to extended data sources. GRID-Europe is the perfect candidate to provide GIS concepts and tools to this project, as well as environmental geographic data. GRID-Europe has a scientific and administrative partnership with University of Geneva (UNIGE). The GRID’s personnel engaged in the project will be paid through UNIGE. The project will essentially be implemented by Bruno Chatenoux, a geologist specialized in GIS and internet applications in environmental sciences. He is presently in charge of the database management of the Lake Balaton project mentioned above.



A further partner within the University of Geneva will be focusing on the biological aspects of aquatic systems. The Ecology and Freshwater Biology Laboratory (LEBA: Laboratoire d’Ecologie et de Biologie Aquatique) specializes in the analysis and monitoring of biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems including large lakes, ponds, alpine streams and river floodplains. Expertise of the lab members covers freshwater plants and invertebrates as well as tools for the analysis and modelling of their distribution and ecology.

In recent years, LEBA developed research programmes at national and international levels with other research institutions and stakeholders. They include:

  • the development of a method for the ecological assessment of small water bodies (Swiss Federal Office for the Environnement) (Oertli et al., 2002; 2005)
  • the comparison of species and genetic diversity of mollusc assemblages in floodplains (Swiss National Science Foundation) (Antoine et al., 2004; Evanno et al., 2006)
  • the set up of databases storing ecological information about invertebrates and their implementation into environmental assessment procedures (European project FAEWE: Functional Analysis of European Wetland Ecosystems, collaboration with French Alpine nature reserves) (Speight & Castella, 2001)
  • the development of invertebrate-based methods for the assessment and monitoring of river-floodplain restoration measures (German RIVA project on the Elbe, French restoration project on the Rhone River) (Foeckler et al., 2006; Paillex et al., submitted)

In 1996, LEBA took part in a European-level analysis of aquatic invertebrate biodiversity in glacial streams (European project AASER: Arctic and Alpine Stream Ecosystem Research) (Milner et al., 2001). LEBA had then responsibilities for studies in one of the sites (Rhône/Mutt glaciers, Switzerland) (Lods-Crozet et al., 2001a), for the joint statistical modelling (Castella et al., 2001) and shared investigations in the Spitzberg sites. This EU project produced a model of aquatic invertebrate diversity in glacial streams as a function of key parameters such as water temperature and river-bed stability. This model will serve as a basis for further implementation in the ACQWA project. A set of complementary works was initiated at LEBA through this EU project, which improved our knowledge of the relationships between environmental parameters and biodiversity in Alpine streams (Lods-Crozet et al., 2001b; Ilg & Castella, 2006; Knispel & Castella, 2003; Brittain et al., 2001).

The tasks of LEBA within the ACQWA project will be 1) to gather the existing data about aquatic insect distribution in the Swiss Rhone catchment together with related environmental variables, 2) to collaborate in the statistical modelling of the data, 3) to collect new field data on Swiss Alpine streams to evaluate biodiversity changes that might have occurred over the last 10 years and to validate predictive models. LEBA will collaborate in these tasks with A. Lehmann (GRID, University of Geneva) and the University of Birmingham (A. Milner, D. Hannah).

Dr Emmanuel Castella will supervise the work carried out by LEBA for the ACQWA project He specialises in aquatic insect ecology in running water and floodplains, and in the related data analysis and modelling. He will supervise the work of a PhD student that would be appointed under this project.


Agroscope ART, Zurich, Switzerland

Agroscope ART is the Swiss national competence centre for agro-ecology under the Federal Office of Agriculture. ART conducts research into environmentally compatible and economically competitive farming systems in a diverse rural landscape by combing ecology, economics and agricultural engineering. With climate change impacts in agriculture as a key area, ART plays an important role in Swiss climate research.

Expertise at ART is in agronomy, agricultural technology and economics, plant breeding, bi-technology, and eco-controlling. Research involves both experimentation and modelling with mechanistic crop and grassland models. Previously, models have been used in combination with high-resolution weather data and climate scenarios to assess the climate sensitivity of agricultural systems under different land management options, to spatially assess the changes in production potentials and constraints, and to estimate production risks. In this project, ART will be in charge of estimating agricultural potentials, risks and resource use in mountain catchments, and with the evaluation of agricultural policy options.

Jürg Fuhrer is a biologist and research group leader, honorary professor at the University of Bern, member of the Core Group of the Swiss NCCR Climate, and Associate Editor-in-Chief of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. His expertise is on impacts of climate change, and air pollution on agro-ecosystems, and on greenhouse gas emission from agriculture. He is leading the work package 3.2.3 on impacts of climate change on mountain agriculture.

Pierluigi Calanca is a climatologist and senior scientist at ART. His expertise is on agro-meteorology, energy balance, and traces gas fluxes in agro-ecosystems, and dynamic modelling of ecosystem processes and crop and pasture productivity. He maintains the Pasture Simulation Model developed at ART. He will be in charge of data analysis and modelling of climate change impacts on agricultural systems in work package 3.2.3.

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