The bank for a changing world

BNP Paribas Foundation provides €2.7 million for five new projects designed to advance climate research

  • 10.07.2014

As part of its Climate Initiative programme, the BNP Paribas Foundation, in close collaboration with the BNP Paribas Corporate Social Responsibility department, is providing support to five new research projects on climate change. The total grant amounts to €2.7 million over three years. The BNP Paribas Foundation had already earmarked € 3 million to this programme when It was launched in 2010.

These scientific projects, which are being carried out by laboratories of international stature, focus on a diverse range of topics, including the risk of invasion by particular species of insects, the consequences of climate change on the Southern Ocean, the accelerated melting of the permafrost, and studies into climate history with the aim of adjusting existing climate models.

The broad aim of these research projects is to increase human understanding of the impact of climate change both on the environment and on the social and economic fabric of populations all over the world.

The five new projects

INVACOST: Invasive Insects and Their Cost Following Climate Change
We know that the temperature of our planet is going rise by several degrees over the next few decades and that this will lead to long-term changes in our environment.  It is quite likely that certain organisms, both plant and animal species, may react to this rise in temperature by changing their behaviour and/or their areas of activity on the planet. This means that we may see some animal species leaving southern regions that have become too hot for them and migrating towards the north.
Among these possible migrants, certain insect species are arousing particular concern among scientists. A mass insect invasion could have serious consequences for biodiversity, agriculture, public health and the economy. Research, monitoring and control programmes for invasive species already today cost Europe €12.5 billion every year.
What are the risks of this type of invasion? What impact might it have? This is the subject which a team of scientists at the University of Paris-Sud and the French National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) are planning to investigate vis-à-vis some 20 insect species, including inter alia tiger mosquitoes and termites.
Project Coordinator: Franck Courchamp
Main laboratories involved: The Environmental, Systems and Evolution Laboratory at the University of Paris-Sud/CNRS

CPATEMP: Continental PAst TEMPeratures since the last glacial cycle and recently developed organic biomarkers
A close study of past climate evolution could shed new light on the workings of the climate and enable us to learn more about how natural changes in the climate, which have sometimes been extremely severe, are likely to combine with the disruptions to climate brought about by human activities.  However it is not easy to identify the traces of these past changes and our knowledge in this area is still incomplete.
The team at the European Centre for Research and Education in Environmental Geosciences (CEREGE), located at Aix-en-Provence in the South of France, intends to help improve human understanding of the recently discovered biomarkers known as Glycerol Dialkyl Glycerol Tetraethers (GDGTs), which are found in the sediments of large lakes. In pursuing this goal, the CEREGE team will be collaborating with research teams in Europe and Africa.
Project Coordinators: Guillemette Ménot and Edouard Bard
Main laboratories involved: the European Centre for Research and Education in Environmental Geosciences/CNRS/Aix-Marseille University; IRD; Collège de France; OSU; Pythéas Institute

APT: Acceleration of Permafrost Thaw by Snow-Vegetation Interactions
Global warming is causing the permafrost – areas of soil or rock that remain frozen all year round – to melt, unlocking the trapped carbon and releasing part of it in the form of CO2. It is estimated that this phenomenon might release twice the amount of CO2 that the atmosphere currently contains. Quite apart from the devastating effect this is likely to have on the local environment and the Inuit population, there might be considerable consequences for the entire planet.
The Canadian-French team at the Takuvik laboratory, an international unit run by the CNRS and Laval University, Quebec, is planning to carry out a multi-year study of this process in order to assess its speed and estimate the volume of greenhouse gases likely to be released into the atmosphere. Throughout the entire programme, they are planning to inform the local Inuit population about their discoveries and also to involve local school students in the process of collecting soil temperature data.
Project Coordinator: Florent Dominé
Main laboratories involved: Takuvik Laboratory (Laval University/ CNRS); the French National Meteorological Research Centre (CNRM, Météo France); the Laboratory of Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics (LGGE, CNRS / UJF)

SOCLIM: Southern Ocean and Climate
The Southern Ocean plays an extremely important role in the climate of our planet. This is firstly due to its geographical location at the centre of the world’s oceans, linking the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean and cooling over half of total ocean volume by 2°C; and secondly because a large part of the 50% of the anthropogenic CO2 which is absorbed by the oceans is absorbed by the waters of the Southern Ocean, which are cold but low in marine phytoplankton.
Today these natural mechanisms risk being disturbed by the climate upheavals linked to human activity. For example, the winds in this region of the globe are nowadays stronger than they were previously, drawing more deep water to the ocean surface and so releasing into the atmosphere the CO2 it contains.
However, many other consequences remain hard to predict since our knowledge of this ocean is still incomplete. There have hitherto been few scientific expeditions, due to the remoteness of the area and the extreme weather conditions that prevail. Now a team composed of researchers from the Laboratoire d'Océanographie Microbienne (LOMIC) [Microbial Oceanography Laboratory], the Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche (LOV) [Villefranche Oceanography Laboratory] and the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD) [Laboratory for Dynamic Meteorology], in liaison with the Laboratoire d’océanographie et du climat, observations et approches numériques (LOCEAN) [Laboratory for Oceanography and Climate, Experimentation and Digital Approaches],  is planning to attempt a novel approach in order to collect new data on this ocean. Deploying a new generation of recently-developed instruments, they intend to document the main processes: heat and carbon exchanges between the atmosphere and the ocean, carbon sequestration and storage mechanisms in the ocean.
The scientific team will also share its discoveries with a broad public through the monoceanetmoi website. This site, which has recently been developed by LOV, takes an innovative educational approach – offering schools the opportunity to adopt a high-tech float, follow its progress in the ocean and share their experiences.
Project Coordinators: Stéphane Blain, Hervé Claustre and Sabrina Speich
Main laboratories involved: LOMIC, UPMC/CNRS; LOV, UPMC/CNRS; LMD, UPMC / CNRS / ENS Paris; Ecole polytechnique; Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, a leading civil engineering college; LOCEAN, UPMC / CNRS / MNHN / IRD, with support from the Technical Division of the Institut national des sciences de l’Univers (CNRS-INSU) [National Institute for Sciences of the Universe] and the Institut polaire français Paul Emile Victor (IPEV) [Paul Emile Victor French Polar Institute]

FATES: FAst Climate Changes, New Tools to Understand and Simulate the Evolution of the Earth System
Human activities are profoundly disturbing the composition of the atmosphere and the evolution of our climate. Computer climate models are the only tools available to gauge the speed of future change and its effects on the hydrological cycle and/or extreme weather events. It is therefore very important to assess whether these models are indeed capable of correctly predicting the speed of these changes.
In order to achieve this, the purpose of FATES is to study with precision the natural global warming that took place at the end of the most recent glacial period, some 20,000 to 10,000 years ago, linked with increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a rise in sea levels. During this period of de-glaciation, the pattern of ocean currents and winds    underwent extremely rapid changes, with a number of regional effects, including the growth of the European forests.
The FATES researchers are planning to precisely date and describe these historical changes by analysing various natural climate archives, including the polar ice, and ocean and continental sediment. This data will serve as a benchmark for testing out the climate models that we are using today, in particular assessing more accurately the impact of these changes on European forests. 
The FATES project is being coordinated by the Laboratoire des sciences du climat et l'environnement (LSCE), a joint research unit set up by the CNRS, the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin. Multi-disciplinary research teams from the University of Paris-Saclay will be working on the project over a period of three years.
Project Coordinators: Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Pascale Braconnot, Christophe Colin, Christophe François, Christine Hatté and Matthieu Sourdeval
Main laboratories involved: LSCE, UVSQ / CNRS / CEA; Interactions et dynamique des environnement de surface (IDES) [Interactions and Dynamics of Surface Geology, a CNRS- University of Paris-Sud laboratory]; Laboratoire d’écologie systématique et évolution (ESE) [a University Paris-Sud / CNRS / AgroParisTech lab whose activities cover fundamental and applied research in ecology and evolution]; the Centre d’histoire naturelle des sociétés contemporaines (CHCSC) [Centre for the Natural History of Modern Societies]; Ecole nationale supérieure des techniques avancées (ENSTA ParisTech) [a leading French graduate school of engineering]; Laboratoire de météorologie dynamique (LMD) [Laboratory of Dynamic Meteorology]; Maison de la Simulation [a French modelling and computer simulation unit]; the SOLEIL French national Synchotron facility; Laboratoire Atmosphères Milieux Observations Spatiales (LATMOS), [Laboratory for Atmosphere, Environment and Space Observation]; Laboratoire Professions, Institutions et Temporalités (PRINTEMPS) [a Sociology research unit at the University of Versailles Saint Quentin]; and the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL)

Project selection by an international scientific committee
This Corporate Philanthropy programme is based on a call for projects, followed by a rigorous selection process involving external experts who enjoy a high reputation in their specific research field. The Selection Committee is composed of:

  • Philippe Gillet, Vice-President of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale at Lausanne in Switzerland and a member of the BNP Paribas Foundation Executive Committee, who chairs the Selection Committee
  • Joanna Haigh, Professor of Atmospheric Physics and Head of the Physics Department in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial College, London
  • Jean-Pascal Van Ypersele, a climatologist who holds a PhD in Physical Sciences and is a Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, where he is co-head of the Masters programme in Sciences and Environmental Management; in 2008 he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Thomas Stocker, Professor and Head of the Climate and Environmental Physics Department at the University of Berne
  • Riccardo Valentini, Professor of Forestry Ecology at the University of Tuscia at Viterbo in Italy
  • Corinne Le Quéré, Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of East Anglia and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research


About the Climate Initiative
Since it was set up in 2010, BNP Paribas Foundation’s Climate Initiative programme has already supported the implementation of five research projects:
- AAA: Accès aux Archives du climat malgré l’Amiante [Access to Climate Archives Despite Asbestos]
- Global Carbon Atlas
- Preclide
- Subglacior

About the BNP Paribas Foundation - 30 years of corporate philanthropy
Under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the BNP Paribas Foundation has been playing a key role in corporate philanthropy for 30 years. It is also encouraging and contributing to the BNP Paribas’ philanthropic policy growth in all parts of the world where the Group does business.
The BNP Paribas Foundation’s activities are aimed at promoting innovative projects dedicated to culture, social inclusion and the environment. It is paying close attention to provide optimal support to its partners, through a long-term commitment. Dialogue, loyal support and a relationship based on trust are the hallmarks of its involvement.
The year 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the BNP Paribas Foundation. Since it was set up in 1984, more than 300 cultural projects, 40 scientific research programmes and around one thousand social and educational initiatives have benefited from its support, in France and across the world.

Press contact(s)

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Anne-Sophie Trémouille : anne-sophie.tremouille [at] bnpparibas (dot) com - +33 (0)1 58 16 84 99


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