Institute of Research for Development

Nouméa, New Caledonia

Institute of Research for Development

Nouméa, New Caledonia

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News Article | October 26, 2016
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

(From L) Carlo Barbante, Patrick Ginot and Jerome Chappellaz carry part of an ice core on August 24, 2016, following the extraction of two ice cores in a glacier as part of the Protecting Ice Memory project. Scientists scrambling to understand current climate and pollution trends are peering centuries into the past, long before the dawn of the industrial age. Late this past summer researchers and engineers from France, Italy and Russia extracted three ice cores from France’s Col du Dôme Glacier in a race to preserve valuable information about climate change before rising temperatures wash it away. There is ample reason for concern. According to NASA’s September 2016 climate data, the previous 10 months have been the hottest on record for each of those months out of the last 136 years—since modern weather recording started. In fact, for a few days in July 2015, the Col du Dôme’s surface temperature rose above freezing, causing alarm among weather scientists. The Col du Dôme mission, in the Alps’s Mont Blanc massif at an elevation of 4,300 meters, marks the beginning of an ambitious project to collect ice cores from other parts of the world as well. According to Patrick Ginot, a research engineer at the Institute of Research for Development in Marseille and project leader of the Protecting Ice Memory project, ice cores are important in studying climate change and the environment because they contain vital information related to both. Gases including methane and CO2 are trapped in bubbles found in ice, Ginot says. Ginot and his team of researchers can also track aerosols—small particles in the atmosphere that fall with snow and get trapped and stored in the ice, layer by layer, as the years pass. “We use sulfate and black carbon concentration tracers to track pollution, for example,” Ginot says. Black carbon is an aerosol emitted by incomplete combustion from vehicles and factories. Sulfate is emitted by human activities in addition to natural emissions such as volcanoes. “With these techniques we can reconstruct evolution of environmental parameters and atmospheric conditions of the past,” he says. In storing these ice cores for future generations, the scientists say they hope to create an archive that has never been attempted on this scale. “We want to preserve the information contained in the glaciers before they start melting,” says Carlo Barbante, professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Venice and a co-founder of the project. “It is urgent because in the last 10 years the annual mean temperature on the Col du Dôme has risen by 1.5 degrees C, from –14 degrees Celsius to –12.5 degrees Celsius.” Water from the Col du Dôme’s melting surface could easily infiltrate the glacier’s underlying layers and damage chemical data, says Jérôme Chappellaz, Protecting Ice Memory co-founder and a research director at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. Frozen water has an isotopic composition that gives clues about past temperatures, Barbante says. An isotope is a variant of an element that has the same atomic number but different mass number. “During the evaporation of the water from the ocean, the water molecules formed by lighter isotopes will get preferentially evaporated, while during condensation the heavier isotopes will condense more effectively,” he says. This process is a function of the temperature, so in looking at the isotopic composition in the different dated layers of the ice, scientists can study the temperature of the past. Ice cores must be extracted before global warming melts them. “Ice cores are like books,” Barbante explains. “They contain information of climate and environment year by year. Snow entraps dust from the atmosphere, and glacial ice contains information about the composition of the atmosphere from the past.” The project began August 15, when helicopters plopped the researchers onto the Col du Dôme Glacier. In 12 days the team pulled ice cores from three different sites, drilling down 130 meters at each stop. Each cylindrical core is a meter long and 102 millimeters in diameter, Ginot says. “For each site we drilled for one meter, extracted the core and started again—130 times. We extracted samples and packed them in boxes. Each box contained six samples and weighed 50 kilograms,” he says. The boxes were taken by helicopter and freezer truck to the city of Grenoble, where they are now stored in huge freezers. The cores from one of the sites will be analyzed at Venice and Grenoble; those from the remaining two will be transported by a research ship equipped with advanced freezing systems—and then by tracked vehicles to the Concordia Research Station in Antarctica in 2020. France’s Polar Institute Paul-Émile Victor and its partner, Italy’s National Antarctic Research Program manage the station, which is 3,800 meters above sea level and has an annual average temperature of –55 degrees C. Ultimately, the project would store dozens of ice cores from glaciers around the world, safely dug into the snow in the world’s safest freezer, Chappellaz says. There is an urgent need for such climate study projects in temperate regions across the world, says Eric Rignot, principal scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Radar Science and Engineering Section. He was not involved in the Protecting Ice Memory project. “There are already places in the Andes, for instance, where records of the last 30 to 40 years have disappeared because of surface ice melting,” Rignot says. “There are other places in the world from where the record of the past decade is melting away. If we wait any longer, we will lose records of not just the last few decades, but of up to a century or more.” Ginot’s team is not alone. Lonnie Thompson, an earth scientist at The Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center who also is not part of the project and has been drilling ice cores on the world’s highest mountain ranges for 38 years. Although the successful recovery of the cores from Mont Blanc is an excellent first step, the recovery of the anticipated future cores will be much more difficult due to logistical challenges and the fact that the programs will have to be conducted in numerous politically diverse countries such as India and China, he says. Ice archives are in principle an intriguing idea, but Thompson said he worries about long-term physical and political accessibility of the Antarctica archive as well as how the ice cores will be safeguarded from the ravages of time. There are several factors, including different people and different governments with different priorities as well as the alteration of the archive that occurs over time via such slow processes as ice sublimation and recrystallization. Barbante says his team plans to set up an international steering committee with rules accepted by everybody. “Antarctica has no sovereignty,” he says. “It is international governance that will guarantee accessibility to everybody in the future.” The French-led team from Protect Ice has now set its sights on Illimani Glacier in Bolivia, with an expedition tentatively scheduled for next May. That glacier is 6,300 meters above sea level, and Ginot says it will be far more challenging than Col du Dôme. For one, helicopters cannot fly at that elevation. “Most instruments will be transported on researchers’ shoulders or on mules as far up as we can, and then we climb on our own,” he says. “It won’t be easy. It will be both an alpinist and a scientific expedition.”


Criqui L.,University Paris Est Creteil | Zerah M.-H.,Institute of Research for Development | Zerah M.-H.,Marie Helene Zerah was deputed to the Center for Social science and Humanities
Energy Policy | Year: 2015

This paper examines the notion of energy transition when implemented by private utilities. In 2000, the Delhi government privatized electricity distribution to three private distribution companies. Most research was concerned with the impact of privatization on energy reliability, tariff settings and regulation issues. This paper looks at two under-researched themes: the expansion of services to poorer neighborhoods and the rollout of clean energy policies. This focus allows to unpack the materiality of socio-technical systems, to analyze how energy infrastructures are being technically deployed on the ground and to identify which social approach is used. To detail the specific practices of each company provides a more nuanced and accurate understanding of the reform. In-depth analysis of the three private utilities show that they interpret the reform mandate differently: they use a varied range of technical tools; they respond differently to social concerns in poorer neighborhoods; and they have distinctive internal management choices and corporate cultures. All these four factors can strengthen or undermine the transition towards increased access and clean energy. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | November 28, 2016
Site: phys.org

"I thought it was from a piece of wood," she told AFP, recalling the day when a snake sunk its fangs into her leg. "They had to carry me back home because I couldn't walk," she said, sitting in front of a thatched hut decorated with white sea shells. Gina lives on Soga, a tiny speck of land that is one of the 88 islands of the Bijagos archipelago, an Atlantic paradise home to dolphins, tortoises—and forests full of deadly snakes. Home to some 30,000 people, the islands are recognised by the UN's world heritage body (UNESCO) for their exceptionally diverse ecosystems, but there is one creature in particular that thrives among the mangroves. "The Bijagos islands are reputed for their snakes. All the deadliest species live there, including mambas and cobras," says Aissata Regolla, a researcher at Guinea-Bissau's Institute for Bioversity and Protected Marine Areas (IBAP). "On certain islands, our staff can't walk more than five minutes without seeing one." Gina should perhaps count herself lucky. Every year around 125,000 people die after being bitten by a snake, 30,000 of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Many more are left with life-changing injuries or amputations. But finding an antivenom which is affordable is becoming increasingly difficult, prompting a warning from the World Heath Organization last year. "The price of some antivenoms has dramatically increased in the last 20 years, making treatment unaffordable for the majority of those who need it," the UN health agency said. On the continent, antivenom treatments are not generally cost-effective for the drug companies that make them. In 2010, French pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi stopped producing its widely-used Fav-Afrique serum, which is effective against the venom of 10 different snake species, with the last batch expiring in June of this year. Sanofi Pasteur, its vaccines division, said it had been edged out by cheaper competitors. But several studies have shown these low-cost rivals are far less effective in treating bites, while the delicate process of cultivating an antivenom further complicates delivery. "Antivenom is a biological product. You have to buy the venom, draw out the antibodies, purify them... it's an arduous and complex process," explains Jean-Philippe Chippaux, a snake bite expert at France's Institute of Research for Development (IRD). "Governments, local authorities and companies should all make a contribution. Today no ministry is capable of saying where the problem lies, how many bites there are or where they took place." Worst hit are children and farmers working the land. Cacutu Avis earns his living cutting down trees in the forest between the coast and the village of Eticoba. "The cacubas are the most deadly, generally if they bite you, you are a goner," he says, using the local word for mambas. "They are often in the trees and palm leaves." Soga is half an hour from the larger island of Bubaque, which has a basic hospital, and more than five hours from the capital, Bissau. But with a single dose of life-saving antivenom costing up to $150 (141 euros)—often more than a month's salary—many are forced to turn to traditional healers. "People have died in front of me at the healers' places, but others have survived," said Jose Nactum, director of the hospital in Bubaque. "We don't have antivenoms adapted for different species and we have a lot of difficulty identifying the type of snake," he admits. Antivenom must also be kept chilled in the fridge, yet only 10 percent of the country has access to electricity. Even for the new players in the market, making the antidotes cost-effective is a huge challenge. "Antivenoms don't bring in enough for the big pharma houses compared with other products," says Juan Silanes, president of Mexico's Inosan Biopharma, now Africa's top provider of snakebite serum. "But if there is a product that's fairly good, and at a good price, that could change things," he adds. Explore further: Global failure to act on snake bite costs thousands of lives each year


Guerin I.,Paris-Sorbonne University | Guerin I.,Institute of Research for Development
Journal of Agrarian Change | Year: 2013

Drawing on a number of case studies from Tamil Nadu, this paper shows that bonded labour is not a relic of the past, but surprisingly contemporary. Refuting the tenets of the semi-feudal thesis, we argue that unfree labour can go hand in hand with capitalism, and that it can be initiated and sustained by capital itself in order to accumulate surplus value. Going against the tenets of the de-proletarianization thesis, we suggest that bonded labour is not always the preferred working arrangement for capitalism. Bonded labour should be examined in connection with specific historical contexts, the changing nature of the economy, the evolution of political forces and modes of socialization. I argue that bonded labour results from a specific regime of accumulation characterized by cheap labour, increased domestic demand sustained through household debt, as well as modes of conflict, contestation and worker identity formation that engage with both governmental programmes and consumerism. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


The "Sustainable Micronutrient Interventions to Control Deficiencies and Improve Nutritional Status and General Health in Asia" project (SMILING), funded by the European Commission, is a transnational collaboration of research institutions and implementation agencies in five Southeast Asian countries--Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam--with European partners, to support the application of state-of-the art knowledge to alleviate micronutrient malnutrition in Southeast Asia. The major expected outcomes are to improve micronutrient status on a large scale, to identify priority interventions in each Southeast Asian country, and to develop a road map for decision makers and donors for inclusion of these priority interventions into the national policy. SMILING has been built around a strong project consortium that works on a constant and proactive exchange of data and analyses between partners and allows for the differences in contexts and development stages of the countries, as well as a strong North-South-South collaboration and colearning. The selection of Southeast Asian countries considered the range of social and economic development, the extent of micronutrient malnutrition, and capacity and past success in nutrition improvement efforts. SMILING is applying innovative tools that support nutrition policy-making and programming. The mathematical modeling technique combined with linear programming will provide insight into which food-based strategies have the potential to provide essential (micro) nutrients for women and young children. Multicriteria mapping will offer a flexible decision-aiding tool taking into account the variability and uncertainty of opinions from key stakeholders. The lessons learned throughout the project will be widely disseminated.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 271.04K | Year: 2015

The climate of West Africa is subject to some of the most variable rainfall patterns observed anywhere in the world. In the past, the region has suffered several decades of severe droughts, whilst more recently major flood events have struck a number of the regions rapidly expanding cities. The consequences of these climatic extremes for the population have been particularly pronounced due to widespread and severe poverty. Global climate change, coming on top of such a variable and unpredictable regional climate, poses a major threat to the populations and economies of West Africa. Although the pathway from climate change to human suffering in West Africa is very short, there are some key bottlenecks to using climate projections to mitigate against risks to the population. Critical gaps exist in knowledge of how West African climate will change over the course of the 21st century, and the uncertainties make it almost impossible for agencies to deliver well-informed plans for the coming decades in critical areas such as food security, urban development and water. Even with the best climate information, it remains a significant challenge to integrate the scientific knowledge into planning and management structures. This collaborative project between scientists and policy makers in West Africa and Europe will, on the one hand, increase understanding of the regional climate and how it will change, and on the other, apply that knowledge to practical development questions. One of the key challenges for climate science is to understand how the changing composition of the atmosphere (notably CO2) will impact on the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods and droughts. In West Africa, these events are tied to the behaviour of convective rain storms; when storms are particularly intense or occur in rapid succession, devastating floods may result, whilst a week or two without storms during the wet season can trigger crop failure. Climate scientists rely on computer simulations of the global atmosphere, oceans and continents, yet these models have a very crude description of convective storms. For the first time, a new generation of regional climate models is emerging which realistically depict storms, and critically, how storms respond to factors such as land and ocean conditions, and increases in CO2. AMMA-2050 will use these new computer simulations alongside conventional climate models and historical observations, to understand why the statistics of key climate extremes are changing, and what this tells us about climate and its extremes in future decades. The outputs from the models will be used to examine impacts on key sectors in West African society, notably water and agriculture. Adaptation options will be explored, for example through the use of alternative crops, taking account of the inherent uncertainties in climate information, and the ways in which it is interpreted by decision-makers. We will focus on two questions. Firstly, in Senegal we will identify sustainable agricultural adaptation strategies and the policy frameworks to support those options. Secondly, we will examine how climate changes are likely to affect flooding in the rapidly growing city of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The research and capacity building work of AMMA-2050 will help develop a new generation of African researchers and decision-makers, well-placed to respond to the requirements of West African nations. Within AMMA-2050, end-users have an important role, and their needs are embedded in project design and delivery, such that outputs will be responsive to their needs, and delivered in a format that is easily used. Enhanced resilience is an important aim of the project: it starts with improving our understanding of the climate signal over West Africa and leads through to decisions being made in specific pilot studies that showcase the importance of using improved and impact-sensitive science outputs.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 115.74K | Year: 2015

The climate of West Africa is subject to some of the most variable rainfall patterns observed anywhere in the world. In the past, the region has suffered several decades of severe droughts, whilst more recently major flood events have struck a number of the regions rapidly expanding cities. The consequences of these climatic extremes for the population have been particularly pronounced due to widespread and severe poverty. Global climate change, coming on top of such a variable and unpredictable regional climate, poses a major threat to the populations and economies of West Africa. Although the pathway from climate change to human suffering in West Africa is very short, there are some key bottlenecks to using climate projections to mitigate against risks to the population. Critical gaps exist in knowledge of how West African climate will change over the course of the 21st century, and the uncertainties make it almost impossible for agencies to deliver well-informed plans for the coming decades in critical areas such as food security, urban development and water. Even with the best climate information, it remains a significant challenge to integrate the scientific knowledge into planning and management structures. This collaborative project between scientists and policy makers in West Africa and Europe will, on the one hand, increase understanding of the regional climate and how it will change, and on the other, apply that knowledge to practical development questions. One of the key challenges for climate science is to understand how the changing composition of the atmosphere (notably CO2) will impact on the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods and droughts. In West Africa, these events are tied to the behaviour of convective rain storms; when storms are particularly intense or occur in rapid succession, devastating floods may result, whilst a week or two without storms during the wet season can trigger crop failure. Climate scientists rely on computer simulations of the global atmosphere, oceans and continents, yet these models have a very crude description of convective storms. For the first time, a new generation of regional climate models is emerging which realistically depict storms, and critically, how storms respond to factors such as land and ocean conditions, and increases in CO2. AMMA-2050 will use these new computer simulations alongside conventional climate models and historical observations, to understand why the statistics of key climate extremes are changing, and what this tells us about climate and its extremes in future decades. The outputs from the models will be used to examine impacts on key sectors in West African society, notably water and agriculture. Adaptation options will be explored, for example through the use of alternative crops, taking account of the inherent uncertainties in climate information, and the ways in which it is interpreted by decision-makers. We will focus on two questions. Firstly, in Senegal we will identify sustainable agricultural adaptation strategies and the policy frameworks to support those options. Secondly, we will examine how climate changes are likely to affect flooding in the rapidly growing city of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The research and capacity building work of AMMA-2050 will help develop a new generation of African researchers and decision-makers, well-placed to respond to the requirements of West African nations. Within AMMA-2050, end-users have an important role, and their needs are embedded in project design and delivery, such that outputs will be responsive to their needs, and delivered in a format that is easily used. Enhanced resilience is an important aim of the project: it starts with improving our understanding of the climate signal over West Africa and leads through to decisions being made in specific pilot studies that showcase the importance of using improved and impact-sensitive science outputs.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 188.43K | Year: 2015

The climate of West Africa is subject to some of the most variable rainfall patterns observed anywhere in the world. In the past, the region has suffered several decades of severe droughts, whilst more recently major flood events have struck a number of the regions rapidly expanding cities. The consequences of these climatic extremes for the population have been particularly pronounced due to widespread and severe poverty. Global climate change, coming on top of such a variable and unpredictable regional climate, poses a major threat to the populations and economies of West Africa. Although the pathway from climate change to human suffering in West Africa is very short, there are some key bottlenecks to using climate projections to mitigate against risks to the population. Critical gaps exist in knowledge of how West African climate will change over the course of the 21st century, and the uncertainties make it almost impossible for agencies to deliver well-informed plans for the coming decades in critical areas such as food security, urban development and water. Even with the best climate information, it remains a significant challenge to integrate the scientific knowledge into planning and management structures. This collaborative project between scientists and policy makers in West Africa and Europe will, on the one hand, increase understanding of the regional climate and how it will change, and on the other, apply that knowledge to practical development questions. One of the key challenges for climate science is to understand how the changing composition of the atmosphere (notably CO2) will impact on the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods and droughts. In West Africa, these events are tied to the behaviour of convective rain storms; when storms are particularly intense or occur in rapid succession, devastating floods may result, whilst a week or two without storms during the wet season can trigger crop failure. Climate scientists rely on computer simulations of the global atmosphere, oceans and continents, yet these models have a very crude description of convective storms. For the first time, a new generation of regional climate models is emerging which realistically depict storms, and critically, how storms respond to factors such as land and ocean conditions, and increases in CO2. AMMA-2050 will use these new computer simulations alongside conventional climate models and historical observations, to understand why the statistics of key climate extremes are changing, and what this tells us about climate and its extremes in future decades. The outputs from the models will be used to examine impacts on key sectors in West African society, notably water and agriculture. Adaptation options will be explored, for example through the use of alternative crops, taking account of the inherent uncertainties in climate information, and the ways in which it is interpreted by decision-makers. We will focus on two questions. Firstly, in Senegal we will identify sustainable agricultural adaptation strategies and the policy frameworks to support those options. Secondly, we will examine how climate changes are likely to affect flooding in the rapidly growing city of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The research and capacity building work of AMMA-2050 will help develop a new generation of African researchers and decision-makers, well-placed to respond to the requirements of West African nations. Within AMMA-2050, end-users have an important role, and their needs are embedded in project design and delivery, such that outputs will be responsive to their needs, and delivered in a format that is easily used. Enhanced resilience is an important aim of the project: it starts with improving our understanding of the climate signal over West Africa and leads through to decisions being made in specific pilot studies that showcase the importance of using improved and impact-sensitive science outputs.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 255.36K | Year: 2015

Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures) will develop the scientific evidence and inclusive groundwater management processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It will improve understanding of the volume and renewability of groundwater in SSA, and develop robust models and tools to forecast available groundwater resources under changing climate, land-use and demand scenarios, including expansion of arable land under irrigation. GroFutures will examine current groundwater governance processes and identify pathways toward more sustainable and equitable use of groundwater resources that are reconciled to projections of changing demand and resource availability. It will assemble an international consortium of scientists with an unmatched track record of groundwater research and stakeholder engagement in SSA that both leverages substantial additional investment (£461,000) and engages with research and development communities across Anglophone and Francophone Africa. GroFutures will also establish a Network of African Groundwater Observatories that representing the primary groundwater environments and development governance challenges in SSA that features a new dataset of 25 records of groundwater-level observations that are 2 to 6 decades duration from across SSA enabling the most rigorous analysis of the relationships among climate, land-use and groundwater recharge that has ever been conducted in the tropics. Dedicated basin observatories will be constructed that will enable very detailed monitoring of the physical process by which groundwater is replenished and application of a new method for quantifying the volume of groundwater in African aquifers thereby overcoming fundamental limitations in present knowledge of groundwater in SSA. GroFutures will also employ an innovative and participatory approach to the management of groundwater which will enable for explicit consideration ofthe views of poor people in making decisions over the allocation and development of groundwater resources.


News Article | April 13, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

Amazonian catfish make the longest known freshwater migrations, covering thousands of kilometres, but their epic voyages are threatened by new dams. Brachyplatystoma catfish can measure up to three metres in length, and are top predators. To study their migrations, Fabrice Duponchelle of the Institute of Research for Development in Montpellier, France, and his colleagues analysed the strontium isotope ratio in ear bones from 37 Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii captured near breeding areas in the Amazon basin. The authors found correlations between the strontium make-up of the bones and that of rocks in different parts of the river system. They suggest that young fish migrate downstream in the lower Amazon, then return upstream as adults, swimming some 8,000 kilometres to the area where they were hatched. Two dams built recently on the Madeira River could prevent the fish from reaching their spawning grounds, which could have ripple effects through Amazonian food webs, the authors warn.

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