A project coordinated by the URV will offer climate services for water-sport enthusiasts

A website has been set up for fans of water sports to consult the best days for recreational activities on the coast depending on the type of sport or the level of difficulty, among other aspects.

Climate change has transformed the coastal ecosystem. This transformation affects recreational activities that take place on the sea and the coast. Surfing, paddle surfing, rowing and kite surfing are sports that depend on increasingly changing weather conditions. Now, a project coordinated by the Climate Change Centre (C3) of the URV’s Department of Geography is analysing the spatial and temporal variability of the sea’s resources that are used for these sports. The aim is to develop a tool that enables climate-smart decisions to be made. The website gives information about the best days for practising nautical recreational activities, and advice about how to de-seasonalise and de-concentrate tourist activity without losing sight of the need for sustainable societies, places and behaviours. The TURLIT-ODS project is being carried out in collaboration with Calafell Town Council and the support of the Tarragona Provincial Council, and the aim is to extrapolate the results to other coastal towns in the region.

In the first phase of the project, which began 6 months ago, the research group made a preliminary study of both the climatic situation of the area of Segur de Calafell and the services available along the coastline. “Some effects of climate change are already noticeable: for example, the considerable impact on the beaches as a result of the urbanisation of the seafront. When there is a storm, as the system of dunes has been modified, they can no longer perform their protective function,” explains Anna Boqué, one of the researchers involved in this project.

It has also been observed that activities for tourists on the sea are sometimes only available in the summer season: July and August. By analysing their data, the research team has found that these activities are possible in other months. “We want companies and municipalities to be able to take advantage of the demand in months such as September, when the conditions for paddle surfing are optimal,” says the researcher. At the same time, this project also aims to raise awareness of the fact that the prevalence of storms means that some activities should no longer be practised.

This coming Wednesday, as part of the project, a co-creation symposium has been planned in the port of Segur de Calafell for administrations, companies and individuals interested in practising these sporting activities. First of all, the aim is to raise awareness of the problem from a climatic point of view and to understand, quickly and simply, what the weather and the climate are, and what climate change is all about. Subsequently, joint solutions will be sought to the possible threats detected.

After this conference, the research group will extract the information obtained and design indicators “that will be calculated using a methodology that we have developed. It uses atmospheric and oceanic data, as well as data on social aspects. We will upload the indicators to a platform that is accessible to all interested parties,” explains Boqué. The result will be a publicly accessible website that will contain service information so that people can make decisions. It will explain, for example, which days are expected to be the best for a particular sea sport, taking into account, among other things, the level of expertise. Or a public administration will be able to decide whether or not to organise a sea sports event at a given time of year by consulting the expected weather trends for the season. It will also allow tourist companies to de-seasonalise and de-concentrate their offer.

The project also aims to take the environment into account. “We organise activities that have the least possible impact on the region and we bear in mind that some areas need to be protected and seek nature-based solutions,” concluded the researcher.

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