Welcome to OpenTEK – the Citizen Science Platform

We are excited to launch OpenTEK, the LICCI citizen science online platform.

The main purpose of the platform is to encourage participation in climate research by allowing anyone in the world to document and classify observations of climate change impacts in order to make them more visible and get a more complete picture of climate change’s effects on daily situations.

By documenting concrete impacts of climate change throughout diverse communities worldwide, we can help make better policies and develop and share better adaptation measures.

Next to creating and viewing local observations, there are other sources and types of information that will be made available with time. For instance, in this first release, we include an archive of more than 100 scientific publications, which report local observations that have been reviewed and classified by a research team. We also hope to add a part to document traditional ecological knowledge in general.

We are still prototyping the user-interface to work for Indigenous people, the general public and scientists likewise, so that the OpenTEK platform can become a tool for cooperation. In this line, one of the main pending developments is to make the platform usable in as many languages as possible. Although this first release is only in English, we are currently working on translating the page interface while allowing users to create entries in their desired language. In that sense OpenTEK would be similar to a wiki, with entries in as many languages as contributors wanting to create them.

All the platform parts are developed in open source, and we encourage reusability and of course welcome software developer contributions. The source code can be found here: https://gitlab.com/licci Please get in touch if you want to try it out!

If you are a researcher, developer, practitioner, educator or local community member, we encourage you to register. If you have any feedback, in terms of ideas or problems you encountered feel free to get in touch with us: .

LICCI at the ReSoDiv workshop in Paris: seed and knowledge networks for climate change adaptation

LICCI team members Anna Porcuna Ferrer and Vanesse Labeyrie participated the 7th-8th of September in the ReSoDiv workshop in Paris. The workshop brought together researchers from different disciplines to discuss the effects of geography on the analysis of networks of circulation of biological objects (plant seeds, animals) and the knowledge associated with them within agrarian societies. 

In this context, Anna and Vanesse presented the LICCI Crop Diversity Protocol as a tool to explore the contributions of seed and knowledge networks to the resilience of local farming communities to climate change.

The needle in the haystack: finding climate-driven changes among the multiple interlinked changes affecting mountain agroecosystem in Spain

This summer, taking advantage of a small window of improvement in the COVID-19 crisis, LICCI collaborators Laura Levy and Joana Blanch, as well as LICCI core team member Petra Benyei, have been conducting their fieldwork in three mountain agroecosystems in Spain: Alpujarra Alta, Vall de Cardós and Cabrales, in the Sierra Nevada, Pyrenees and Picos de Europa mountain ranges.

These areas, although ecologically and climatically distinct, hold certain similarities in terms of their isolation and average altitude (with some villages above 2000 m.a.s.l). Moreover, some of these areas are still home to abundant crop diversity. The study sites also have suffered similar processes of progressive rural depopulation, agricultural industrialization and integration in the EU regulatory and budgetary frameworks that, in less than 60 years, have severely transformed the local environment.

While keeping social distancing and using masks, the researchers were able to talk with about 60 elderly informants that have been active in the local agroecosystems (as professional farmers or as home gardeners) for more than three decades and that has a profound knowledge about the changes in the systems and in the crop and livestock diversity in the area.

Preliminary results point out to the fact that most cropping systems have been abandoned in these areas since farmers have retired and/or agriculture has been substituted by cattle grazing, tourism and construction activities. Informants also pointed out the increasing diversity of plants grown for food in the local home gardens in parallel to the loss of traditional landraces.

However, the drastic changes in lifestyles and the prioritization of less labor intensive farming activities to fit an increasing depopulation and farmer ageing are highlighted as the main drivers behind these changes.

Homegarden in Cabrales

Thus, it is now the task of these researchers to pull the thread and find the needle in the haystack: those changes in crop diversity and farming systems that are also driven by the reported climate change impacts such as the decrease in snowfall, the increasing precipitation variability, the increasing temperatures and seasonal droughts or the disappearance of seasons.

Village in Alpujarra Alta
Homegarden in Vall de Cardòs

Members of the LICCI team for a day: a role play

LICCI team members prepared a role play that took place last Saturday (11th July) with a group of 15 high school students. The objective was to understand the local impacts of climate change. Working in three groups and on different case studies, students dived into the work of the LICCI team.

Students had different roles (e.g. meteorologist, anthropologist, historian, climate activist, disseminator, citizen engaged in citizen science, etc.) in order to look at local climate change impacts from an inter-disciplinary perspective.

This initiative was organized within the framework of “Bojos per la Ciència”, a program financed by “Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera” that aims at encouraging scientific vocations by organizing theoretical-practical sessions given by a wide-range of research groups in Catalonia.

LICCI on air in Spain

María Garteizgogeascoa and David Garcia (LICCI core team) spoke on Aragón Radio about their project conducted in Sierra Nevada (Spain), which presented a novel way of using the local knowledge embodied in proverbs to explore climate change impacts at local scales.

You can listen to the interview (in Spanish) here:

We are hiring!

Apply now to be the Project officer (half time) of our new project ICCION – “Indigenous Climate Change Impacts Observation Network”. ICCION aims at bringing IPLC’s knowledge and perspectives to climate change policy fora. The position is based at the ICTA-UAB and the person hired will work in close collaboration with the LICCI team.

You will be: (1) coordinating, organizing, and facilitating Dialogue workshops with representatives of IPLC’s, (2) collecting the feedback generated in these workshops to be inputted in the Citizen Science platform, (3) preparing materials for research outreach and (4) facilitating the creation of a network of Indigenous Peoples interested in local knowledge and climate change impacts.

Your profile:

> great teamwork facilitator

> good interpersonal skills

> proficient digital literacy (including knowledge of social networks, i.e., twitter, fb)

> master time management

> fluent in English

For the full call text and all details, click: ICCION call

Deadline for applications: July 15, 2020

*Please note that to apply you should: (i) send a cover letter and an updated CV to and (ii) enter the information at UAB portal (https://convocatoriesupac.uab.cat, opening the electronic form “2020PILEUA84 – Institut de Ciència i Tecnologies Ambientals – LG1Q”).

Letter to decarbonize research through funding rules

LICCI core-team members & colleagues have written a letter suggesting new rules that coordinate the decarbonization of research activities. The letter will be submitted to an academic journal, but to make the petition stronger, we would like the petition to be supported by scientists from several disciplines and academic fields. We are thus, requesting you to read this short letter and, if in agreement, sign it by providing the information requested. The letter can be signed until the coming Sunday 31st May. Thanks for your support!

Sign the letter here: Decarbonize research through funding rules

First virtual LICCI training workshop: despite the distance, a big success

Last week took place the first online LICCI training workshop. It gave us the opportunity to connect with researchers and practitioners based in different parts of the world and working with climate change and local communities, to discuss other possibilities for data collection.

With the difficult circumstances in the Covid-19 pandemic, the LICCI team is adjusting towards more flexible ways to collaborate, engage and reach out. This workshop was initially designed to be the first of a series of regional face-to-face training workshops to be conducted in Europe, Latin America, Oceania and Asia. The virtual edition showed that it is possible to build bridges, create synergies, and establish new collaborations to expand the LICCI network despite physical distance. The strategy also reduces our carbon footprint.

We would like to thank all participants who so generously shared their time, motivation and enthusiasm with us. It is a pleasure to have you on board! For those interested in applying the LICCI protocols, all the sessions were recorded and the videos will be soon available in our website.

Participants in the LICCI online training workshop

Exploring climate change through proverbs in Sierra Nevada (Spain)

A new study, published in the journal Regional Environmental Change, presents a novel way of using the local knowledge embodied in proverbs to explore climate change impacts at local scales.

The study took place in Sierra Nevada (Southern Spain), a perfect location to study climate change through the view of local people for two main reasons. First, because high mountainous regions are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world to climate change. And, second because Sierra Nevada has been historically a region in which local knowledge has been of great importance for water management and agricultural production.

For instance, traditionally weather forecasting methods were critical to better cope with weather variability. “I was particularly impressed by the numerous indicators (clouds, wind patterns, animal behaviour) that, still nowadays, people in the area use for weather forecasting” says María Garteizgogeascoa who led the study. Although these indicators are still used by local people, their perceived reliability is changing: “I no longer pay attention to water signals because they are no longer credible” or “In the past, cattle used to announce the rain; but now they only know when it rains after they get wet, as rain now is unpredictable” told us participants in this study.

Farmer working his land looking at the mountains bare of snow. Picture by David García del Amo.

The study used information contained in local proverbs to explore the impacts of climate change on climatic aspects of the environment like precipitation, on physical aspects, like snow cover; and finally, on biological aspects, such as flowering periods. 

For example, the proverb por Todos los Santos la nieve en los altos, por San Andrés la nieve en los pies indicates the arrival and abundance of the snow cover. So, according to the proverb, at the beginning of November (Todos los Santos is celebrated on November 1st) snow can be found on the peaks of the mountains and by the end of the month (November 30th) it normally reaches lower altitudes. When we asked participants about their current perception of the accuracy of this proverb, many stated that the proverb barely reflects the current situation, as snow arrives now later and it is less abundant. And indeed, the scientific data and literature for the region show a delay in snow periods.

Another proverb, septiembre o lleva los puentes o seca las fuentes, describes rain variability during the month of September. In this way, September could be a time of the year in which either rains a lot (the bridges are carried) or barely rains (the fountains dry up). When we asked participants about their perception of the current accuracy of this proverb, many told us that the proverb is no longer accurate, as there is hardly any rain in the month of September now. And certainly, the scientific data and literature for the region shows that precipitation has decrease at that time of the year. The same could be said for 19 of the 30 proverbs used in the study.

Moreover, some of the proverbs examined provided information about climate change impacts not yet described by scientists. For example, cuando vienen los vilanos es conclusion del verano encodes knowledge on the flowering period (end of August, beginning of September) of plants from the genus Carduus. This proverb was considered not accurate nowadays by most of participants due to variations in flowering periods. However, we could not find local literature reporting those variations.

The study reveals that although the selected provers were still generally well recognized, many informants considered them not accurate nowadays. Specially, older informants and people working in the primary sector though that the proverbs they use to guide their decisions in the past are not reliable anymore. As illustrated above, the study documents how this lack of accuracy perception goes in line with trends documented by local, regional and scientific literature and impacts of climate change documented through a Global Change Observatory stablished in the area in 2007. And how for others, the perceived accuracy provides novel information for scientifically undocumented climate change impacts in the area.

“Very few studies, and none in Spain, have ventured to study climate change at local scales through songs, stories or proverbs. However, this works shows that, despite some limitations, these traditional ways of encrypted local knowledge, could be a useful source to do so and a window opportunity to engage with local communities. During my work in the field, proverbs proof to be a useful tool for engage participants in discussions about climate change issues” says María Garteizgogeascoa. She adds “I hope that this study, together with the increasing literature around climate change and local knowledge, contributes to bring visibility on the benefits and need of having a climate change science that integrates different knowledge systems in part to develop a more democratic and targeted policy making”.

Reference:

Garteizgogeascoa M., García del Amo D., Reyes García V. (2020). Using proverbs to study local perceptions of climate change: a case study in Sierra Nevada (Spain). Regional Environmental Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10113-020-01646-1