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Project Description

 

Concept and objectives, progress beyond state-of-the-art,  S/T methodology and work plan

 

Concept and project objective(s)

 

The proposal builds on the successful efforts of the Network of Excellence ACCENT (Atmospheric Composition Change: the European Network) which over the past six years has brought together the atmospheric science community engaged in global change and air pollution studies. The integrating activities within the ACCENT Network have produced a stronger, more cohesive community, including research groups from the new EU Member States and have facilitated the engagement of a new generation of scientists who have started their career in the collaborative environment promoted by ACCENT.

Some numbers may help understanding what has been achieved by ACCENT during its six years of activity:

 

  • more than 150 research teams and ca. 2000 scientists from 32 Countries engaged;
  • two major European Symposia (Urbino Symposia) organized on atmospheric composition change;
  • more than 100 topical workshops organized;
  • 27 exchange programs funded – mainly concerning young scientists – involving 120 researchers;
  • more than 400 young scientists funded to attend International Conferences;
  • more than 50 science reports published, including 26 ACCENT series reports;
  • more than 500 papers contributed in peer reviewed international journals;
  • more than 800 conference presentations;
  • strong cooperation with the IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme) core projects on atmospheric composition change SOLAS (Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study) and iLEAPS (Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study) and IGAC (International Global Atmospheric Chemistry) by maintaining the European IGAC Office;
  • link and contribution to the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) program of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO);
  • final synthesis publication organised in six peer-reviewed papers in a highly reputed international journal.

 

The general concept for ACCENT-Plus, which notably retains the same acronym and logo of the previous phase to mark the strong continuity between the two projects, is to extend the breadth of ACCENT to reach out more strongly to the policy community to facilitate the transfer of research results into policy development and decision making.

A prerequisite to achieve this goal is to maintain the coordination and integration of the European science community in the field of atmospheric composition change and to strengthen the outreach from the scientific synthesis of ACCENT into the policy arena, within the European Research Area (ERA) context and, where possible, to wider global decision making activities.

The networking/coordination actions that will facilitate this process include:

 

  • Involving the entire science community in the networking activity by associating with the new project the previous partners and associates of ACCENT;
  • Contributing to the development of new structures and initiatives for atmospheric composition research in Europe;
  • Organising a biennial gathering of the atmospheric composition research science community by continuing the series of Urbino Symposia;
  • Organising topical workshops on the relevant aspects of atmospheric composition change issues. Each workshop will be summarized by an appropriate syntheses for policy makers;
  • Maintaining and extending the ACCENT Web Portal including sharing of information, activity planning and outreach;
  • Coordinating the efforts with the other FP7 projects funded within this field of science.

 

It is vital for the European science community to be represented within the international science programs and to be in the position of providing an authoritative contribution to their research agendas. In this respect ACCENT-Plus will continue to support the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) project of IGBP by maintaining the European IGAC Office. ACCENT-Plus will also cooperate with the other IGBP projects on atmospheric composition change SOLAS (Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study) and iLEAPS (Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study), and with the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) program of the WMO.

Priority will be given to issues covered by other international programs funded by the European Commission and its Member States. Integration and synthesis across global change problems will receive particular attention to develop the scientific, technological and socio-economic basis and tools necessary for understanding the environmental changes that may have a significant impact on Europe.

ACCENT-Plus aims, through the research efforts of the whole community, at answering the general question: “How can Europe control the composition of its atmosphere under a changing climate?, and to transfer the science results to the policy/decision making. Simple, authoritative and well articulated documents will be communicated to stakeholders and used in support of the decision making process. A wide range of dissemination and training activities will transfer this information to different levels of stakeholders.

 


Progress beyond the state of the art

 

The activities of the ACCENT Network of Excellence have shown the benefits in terms of research coordination and integration for the European science community in the field of atmospheric composition change. The results of ACCENT and of the other EC funded projects in the field of atmospheric composition, especially the integrating and synthesis activities have placed Europe in a leading position internationally in this science field. To maintain this level of excellence and international profile it is necessary to retain the core of the ACCENT integrating activity and enhance the policy application aspects. ACCENT-Plus aims at having a highly effective role in this by fostering a long-lasting cooperation and integration among the European research institutions active in the field.

Joint research programming, access to information, training/mobility activities and facilitation in the use of research infrastructures will be key elements of ACCENT-Plus to preserve and enhance the excellence of European research in this field of science.

Furthermore, ACCENT-Plus, through the range of coordination/integration activities proposed, aims at providing the connection between science and policy making by transferring to the decision makers the important links between air quality and climate change. This will enable the prospects and benefits of co-controlling both phenomena which represent two sides of the same coin, but which are still treated in the policy world as two separate issues.

 

The assessment of the project and the impact of the project results can be conducted along with the following quantitative performance indicators:

  1. number of scientific publications within the Action;
  2. number of strategic reports, assessments, white papers etc., on topical issues within the subject of the Action;
  3. availability and use of the Web portal: number of exchanges, recorded hours of use, documents downloaded, etc.;
  4. number of training courses organised and knowledge distributed via web;
  5. interaction with policy makers: participation in expert groups for policy conventions, policy reports, events for policy makers, etc..

 

S/T methodology and associated work plan

 

The activities that will facilitate the ACCENT-Plus goals previously outlined include:

 

  • involving the atmospheric chemistry community at large in the planned networking activity, providing the required critical mass. This will be accomplished by associating the partners and associates of the previous ACCENT phase. We have already at this stage the endorsement of 85 previous partners/associates from 29 countries in Europe (including 11 New Member States/Eastern European Countries), USA, Australia, China;
  • maintaining and extending the ACCENT-Plus Web Portal activities which include sharing of information within the science community, activity planning, and outreach to stakeholders;
  • providing information on policy relevant issues dealing with atmospheric composition changes in the wider context of food security, energy, ecosystem services, human health;
  • contributing to the development of new infrastructures and initiatives for atmospheric research in Europe;
  • coordinating the efforts with other FP7 projects funded within the specific field of science;
  • maintaining the European IGAC office to provide the international context for ACCENT-Plus science and policy oriented outputs;
  • monitoring and assessing major breakthroughs from recent and ongoing European and international research efforts so as to enhance their maximum impact for policy/decision making;
  • organising a biennial conference of the entire European science community involved in atmospheric composition change research, continuing the successful series of Urbino Symposia;
  • organising topical workshops on relevant aspects of atmospheric composition changes and their policy implications;
  • promoting the ACCENT-Plus Summer School to contribute developing a skilled generation of scientists and policy makers who understand the issues of climate change and their relation to atmospheric chemistry;
  • producing four high profile review papers (ACCENT-Plus Topical Papers) on key topical issue from both scientific and policy perspectives and a policy oriented synthesis paper/book.

 

The ACCENT-Plus project is therefore organised in five work packages which are closely interrelated according to the following scheme:

 

 

Schematic representation of the ACCENT-Plus project structure, its WPs and their relations. The activities of WP2 and WP3 will feed into the integration and outreach WP4 which is primarily responsible for the core coordination activities: the Symposia, the training school, the European IGAC Office, etc.. The synthesis activity of WP4 will then allow WP5 to develop the policy applications and research needs for the future decade. WP1, through the project coordination/management activities and the management of the web portal, will ensure the overarching structure of ACCENT-Plus.

 

 

Within WP1, the Coordinator, with the help of the Project Office, will oversee the organisation of the program and manage the web portal.

The work packages: “Atmospheric emissions, surface exchange, processing and modelling” (WP2) and “Atmospheric Observing System” (WP3) will organise their activities towards responding to the overarching question “How can Europe control the composition of its atmosphere under a changing climate. Topical workshops will be organised by WP2 and WP3 with the participation of leading experts which will provide the basis for the preparation of the four ACCENT-Plus Topical Papers. The work package “Integration and outreach” (WP4) will on one side organize the biennial Symposium meant to gather the ACCENT-Plus community and to involve also representatives of neighbouring science communities as well as policy-makers, but will also organise a major synthesis and review workshop to bring together the output from WP1 and WP2 and integrate them into a larger scientific and policy picture. An interdisciplinary summer school is also planned within WP4 on “Chemistry-climate interactions”. The European IGAC Office will ensure that the impact of European science is maximised, avoiding duplication of effort and infrastructure on the wider international stage. Finally, the work package “Policy applications and research needs” (WP5) will provide a range of output documents including scientific syntheses of climate-atmospheric chemistry interactions. Simple, authoritative and well articulated documents will be communicated to stakeholders and used in support of the decision making process.

In fact, a key output of ACCENT-Plus will be four scientific review papers (ACCENT-Plus Topical Papers) on key topical issues of both scientific and policy relevance (Tropospheric Ozone, Particulate Matter, Methane, Nitrogen) and a policy oriented paper/book which will compile the scientific information derived from the four science papers for a policy-oriented use. For this key activity, the first two years of the project will be used to prepare, through ad-hoc workshops, the four Topical Papers. An advanced draft will be available at the end of the second year. During the third year, a large workshop will be organised to debate and review the drafts and finalise them for submission in a high profile scientific journal. The information derived from the four topical publications will feed into a policy/economy/stakeholder workshop which will organise the preparation of the policy-oriented final publication. All this procedure is visualised in the figure below. ACCENT-Plus will also be ready to modify the focus of the policy oriented synthesis activity should new issues of societal relevance emerge during the lifetime of the project which have not been foreseen at the present stage.

Scheme of the procedure to prepare the four topical papers and the policy synthesis report/book

 

 

ACCENT-Plus Fact Sheet

The Challenge:

Fragmentation of research efforts, lack of a shared scientific vision and insufficient availability of research tools, shared databases, etc., is a major limitation for the understanding of atmospheric composition change over Europe under a changing climate, and the consequent inadequate transfer of prospects to the decision makers for future policies. The ACCENT-Plus project builds on the successful efforts of the NoE ACCENT which has brought together the atmospheric science community engaged in global change and air pollution studies. ACCENT-Plus aims at extending the breath of the previous ACCENT phase to reach out to the policy community, facilitating the transfer of research results into policy/decision making.

The Project Objectives:

The overarching question that ACCENT-Plus aims answering is: “How can Europe control the composition of its atmosphere under a changing climate?” A prerequisite to achieve this goal is to maintain the coordination and integration of the European science community in the field of atmospheric composition change and to strengthen the outreach from the science domain into the policy arena and, where possible, to wider global decision making activities, by producing integrated assessment and synthesis and connecting science and policy making by transferring to the decision makers the important links between air quality and climate change and the prospects and benefits of co-control policies. ACCENT-Plus also aims at preserving and enhancing the excellence of European global change and air quality research within the European Research Area context.

The Methodology:

ACCENT-Plus will continue and further improve the long-lasting co-operation and integration of European research institutions and will create links with the other international research projects in the field of atmospheric composition change and climate. The project also will foster the two-way dialog with the policy community initiated within ACCENT. The overall objective here is to provide a synthesis of scientific results in a policy perspective on issues of primary importance for both air quality and climate: particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen cycle, methane. These topics are, in fact, closely related and efforts will be made to integrate the policy-related scientific findings, in a close dialogue with the relevant stakeholders. The integration of the science community will take place in areas as: i) research programming, ii) joint development and use of data bases, iii) training and mobility of researchers, iv) joint programming and use of infrastructures.

The Expected Results:

As a result of a process involving the whole science community along the duration of the project, ACCENT-Plus will prepare four key synthesis papers presenting the latest understanding on four major topics of importance for policy: tropospheric ozone and its precursors at the regional and global scale; the global nitrogen cycle and its importance for society; the atmospheric methane budget now and through the current century; the       particulate matter with emphasis on the formation and fate of particles and their role in air quality and climate. The process will involve also policy makers and stakeholders, thus realising the promised two way interaction between science and policy. Following this, ACCENT-Plus will deliver a synthesis document simple, authoritative and well articulated, appropriate for the readership, i.e. policy-makers involved in the development of environmental policy at the level of the European Union, the UNECE, national governments, environmental agencies, learned societies, city and industry managers, NGOs.

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