The analysis of global changes, including the study of interactive processes between climate and the environment, represents a planet-scale challenge, ranked among the top challenges for the scientific community of this century. The issue of ‘environment and climate’ is among the priorities of the strategic and program documents of EU policy for research (ERA, Europe 2020) as in the National Research Programme 2011-2013.
OGS activities contribute to researches on global changes related themes by promoting an interdisciplinary approach to the assessment of the current state of the environment, of the changes occurred in the past, and the identification of possible future scenarios, also considering the multifaceted impacts due to anthropogenic activities and natural forcing.
The experience acquired through several EU projects sets OGS research activity at the forefront of international research in the analysis of marine ecosystem structure and functioning, in the assessment of space time variability of environmental parameters and natural processes, in the evaluation of anthropogenic perturbations and their impact on the environment itself.
For its activity OGS can synoptically rely on environmental monitoring networks, measure campaigns, long-term time series stations, geological records as well as observing and modelling systems, including purposely developed innovative tools and instrumentations.
An intended objective is the comprehension of climate and palaeoclimatic changes and of their impacts in the marine field (ice volume variation, seawater temperature increase, ocean acidification, changes in the carbon cycle) both on a global and a regional scale (e.g. Mediterranean Sea, polar areas).
A particular focus will be given to the detailed analysis of processes occurring over the time scales of variability most relevant for socio-economical implications (e.g., decadal scale) useful for the planning of mitigation and adaptation policies.
OGS will operate in the field of climate and environmental research, with operational skills, technology development, monitoring management, numerical modelling and data interpretation on regional and global scales, with focus on the Mediterranean Sea and the Polar areas, especially on the coastal zones. Both the hydrosphere and the geosphere are investigated by specific or integrated research projects (e.g. the RITMARE project).
The study of global changes, including the analysis of interactive processes between climate and the environment, is universally believed to be of high social and economical impact and its economical quantification is nowadays a matter of debate.
OGS environmental research and monitoring activities unquestionably contribute to bridge the knowledge gaps that prevent the climate prediction models to achieve an acceptable level of reliability. OGS research strongly contributes to the definition of natural environment vulnerability to such changes. The numeric modelling activity performed by OGS takes part in the formulation of future scenarios utilisable for the planning of economic activity by public administrations (local, national and EU bodies) and for the definition of mitigation acts for the analysis of socio-economical-ecological integrated systems.
The services provided to the national and regional civil defence (Protezione Civile) are highly relevant on a social point of view. These include the monitoring of the sea level by river mouths during flood events, the forecast of marine circulation in cases of pollution/maritime accident occurrence, on site terrestrial and marine intervention in case of emergency (fast response missions) with geodetic, topographic and bathymetric measurements.