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2100. There’s no time to waste’ is a docufilm that, through the contributions of scientists and experts, takes stock of the effects of climate change on the environment and natural resources in 26 emerged and submerged sites on the Sicilian coast, trying to imagine what the situation will be like in 2100, the year that science uses to simulate future environmental scenarios through the projection of data collected so far.

It will be this work, which has already won awards at various festivals – produced in 2021 by Fabrizio Antonioli, an associate at the Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering of the CNR (CNR-IGAG), and Thalassia Giaccone, of the Anton Dohrn Zoological Station, and scripted by Martina Camatta – that will officially kick off the ‘MARE SOPRA’ popularisation project on 9th May at 18:00 at the Miela Theatre. It was conceived by the University of Trieste and realised, with the collaboration of various partners, thanks to the contribution of the Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, with the aim of raising awareness among the public, especially young people, about the rising sea levels caused by global warming and the consequences already visible on our coasts.

The docufilm will be followed, at 19:00 by the ‘Impact of sea level rise on Friuli Venezia Giulia’s coastline’ round table. Moderated by Franco Foresta Martin, former scientific and environmental editor of Corriere della Sera and RAI consultant (Quark and Geo&Geo), it will feature some of the leading experts on climate change and marine biology: Fabrizio Antonioli, a coastal geomorphologist from CNR-IGAG, specialising in the study of sea level variations; glaciologist Roberto Renato Colucci, from CNR-ISP; physicist Fabio Raicich, from CNR-ISMAR, marine microbiologist Francesca Malfatti (UniTS), climate physicist and Nobel laureate Filippo Giorgi (ICTP), Giorgio Fontolan of UniTS, lecturer in Sedimentology and Coastal Dynamics UniTS, and palaeontology lecturer Carlo Corradini (UniTS).

In the coming decades, sea levels will continue to rise dramatically, changing the geography of our coasts and damaging coastal structures. It has already risen by more than 20 centimetres since 1880 and is expected to reach 30 cm by 2050. We have already had warnings of what the situation may be: the most recent was the strong sea storm last November that hit the eastern coast of the Gulf of Trieste, from Muggia to Lignano, causing extensive damage to coastal infrastructure. The combination of high sea levels and winds from the southern quadrants accumulated water in the Gulf, leading to an explosive situation that could be repeated with greater intensity and frequency in the future.

With the popularisation project ‘MARE SOPRA’, conceived by Stefano Furlani, associate professor of geomorphology at the University of Trieste, the aim is to raise awareness of the problem of rising sea levels caused by climate change. ‘With its almost 100 kilometres of coastline, Friuli Venezia Giulia is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, with the risks of coastal erosion and flooding threatening communities and infrastructure,’ Furlani observes. ‘Rising sea levels could compromise coastal environments, but also many of the business sectors that gravitate to those areas, such as fishing and tourism. Therefore, it is crucial to raise awareness among citizens and especially the younger generation. Efforts to propose adaptation or mitigation actions are essential to tackle this problem while protecting people, the environment and the local economy from its consequences. MARE SOPRA intends to move in this direction, proposing meetings with experts, screenings of documentaries, hands-on experiences with students and citizens, and the creation of a virtual tour: an engaging and accessible tool to explore places and environments in a realistic and detailed way, almost as if one were on site’.

This is an interdisciplinary project, which will involve geomorphologists, sociologists and biologists from three university departments (Mathematics, Computer Science and Geosciences; Political and Social Sciences; and Life Sciences), but also citizenship, schools and associations through the Citizen Science model: it will be schoolchildren and citizens who will actively participate, after being suitably trained, in the measurement of sea level rise.

New digital technologies will also come into play, with the creation of a ‘virtual tour’ that will allow the public to virtually navigate and dive along the Friuli Venezia Giulia coastline. Thanks to 360-degree spherical aerial videos acquired by drone and by diving above and below the sea surface, a very high-resolution journey along the region’s coastline will be created from Muggia to Lignano: through a dozen clickable hotspots along the route map (including Muggia, Trieste, Duino Aurisina, Monfalcone, Staranzano, Grado, Marano Lagunare and Lignano), it will be possible to view audio content, videos, images, in-depth texts and web links to dive 360° above and below sea level.

The ‘virtual tour’, which will be tested directly by the public during an ad hoc event, will be usable from PCs, mobile devices and through Virtual Reality viewers, such as Oculus Meta 2-3, and can also be used by the science museums collaborating in the project for their dissemination activities. It stems from the experience of the Geoswim project, which started in 2012 when Furlani swam solo and surveyed along the entire coastline of Istria. The project, which has since involved biologists, archaeologists and geologists from all over Italy, has led – with the use of a boat equipped with GPS, a series of probes to measure water depth, salinity and temperature, and time-lapse and 360° cameras placed above and below sea level – to the mapping of hundreds of kilometres of Mediterranean coastline, collecting data on their morphological conformation and sea level in the present and past, as well as physical and chemical parameters such as temperature and conductivity. This summer, the mapping will be carried out by the UniTS researchers and lecturers involved in the project, who will complete the survey activities that have already begun on the coasts, by kayak and swimming.

During MARE SOPRA a number of informational meetings will be held in the municipalities of Grado, Muggia and Trieste, which will also be involved in the training and measurement activities, both theoretical and practical, conducted by young researchers and PhD students from UniTS. At the end of these activities the main coastal locations will be marked with two lines: the yellow line will mark where the sea will be in 2050, the red line its level in 2100. Finally, the usefulness of the project will be measured through questionnaires, which will be submitted to the participants in the various activities to assess the effectiveness of the 'social learning' actions.

Mare Sopra, coordinated by the University of Trieste and realised with the contribution of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, collaborates with the Marine Protected Area of Miramare, the Municipality of Muggia, the Marevivo Association – Fvg Delegation, the Marco Polo Institute of Grado, and the Galilei High School of Trieste.