Environment news

Understanding uncertainty in air-quality modelling with new framework

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
A recent study develops a framework for implementing IAMs using the Lombardy region of Italy as a case study. Researchers have run an uncertainty and sensitivity analysis with an environmental model, specifically with an Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) for air quality, demonstrating how model components are sources of uncertainty in the output of an integrated assessment. Policy responses should therefore consider uncertainty and sensitivity when developing measures to improve air quality.
Categories: Environment news

Species diversity throughout the food chain maintains multiple ecosystem services more effectively

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Biodiversity’s contribution to ecosystem services in grasslands — at different levels of the food chain (known as trophic levels1) — has been assessed in a new study. Higher species diversity across trophic levels — particularly for plants, insects and soil microbial decomposers — is important for the provision of multiple ecosystem services related to food production, recreational benefits, or climate regulation. Species diversity across different trophic groups was also found to be just as important in controlling ecosystem functioning as the management intensity of grasslands and environmental factors, such as climate or soil type.
Categories: Environment news

Which factors make drugs persistent? A look at sulphonamides in Polish rivers

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Up to 90% of consumed drugs enter the environment. This may have negative effects on wildlife, especially when the drugs take long periods to break down. This study assessed the breakdown of sulphonamides — a class of antibacterials — in samples from two rivers in Poland. The results showed that sulphamethoxazole, a common veterinary antibiotic, was the most persistent and that various factors inhibit degradation, including low temperatures, heavy metal pollution and low pH.
Categories: Environment news

Banned pesticides continue to affect toxicity in streams

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Many toxic pesticides have been banned by the EU, however some can remain in the environment for many decades. Aquatic invertebrates are particularly vulnerable to pesticides, which can alter their feeding behaviour, growth and mobility. New research has found that persistent pesticides can increase toxicity in streams by up to 10 000 times compared to the residues of currently used pesticides. The researchers recommend these be taken into account when calculating overall toxicity.
Categories: Environment news

QUICKScan: a quick, participatory method for exploring environmental policy problems

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Policymakers often have to make decisions under great complexity, uncertainty and time pressure. A new study presents a support tool for the first stage of policymaking: identifying and exploring alternatives to solve problems. The software tool, called QUICKScan, increases the speed of this process and combines the input of many stakeholders in participatory workshops. It has been applied 70 times in 20 different countries, for a wide range of environmental policy issues.
Categories: Environment news

Half of the land area in Europe is within 1.5 kilometres of transport infrastructure, with large-scale impact on wildlife

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Transport infrastructure is so widespread in Europe that half of the land area is within 1.5 kilometres (km) of paved roads and railway lines, researchers have calculated. The researchers found that in Spain, transport infrastructure has an impact on the abundance of birds in almost half of the country and is affecting the abundance of mammals across almost all of the land area.
Categories: Environment news

Solar park impacts on microclimate, plants and greenhouse gas emissions

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
A UK solar park has been found to change the local microclimate, reports recently published research. Moreover, the microclimate coupled with management activities had an impact on greenhouse gas emissions and plant-community diversity and productivity under the solar panels. The study’s authors say their research provides a starting point for considering how to improve solar-park design in order to deliver co-benefits for biodiversity and farming, and minimise any negative environmental effects.
Categories: Environment news

Green buildings: researchers call for fuller environmental assessment

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Over half of a low-energy building’s environmental impact occurred before it was even occupied, a new case study from Italy calculates. The researchers recommend expanding the environmental assessment of buildings from just the operational stage of a building’s life, when it is in use, to include production and transport of materials, construction activities and building maintenance. A wide range of environmental impacts should also be considered, they argue, and not just energy use.
Categories: Environment news

Ocean acidification — caused by climate change — likely to reduce the survival rate of Atlantic cod larvae

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
The impact of ocean acidification — caused by increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions dissolving in sea water — on Atlantic cod larvae has been assessed in a new study. The researchers estimate that, under scenarios which might be reached at the end of the century, ocean acidification could double the mortality rate of cod larvae, reducing replenishment of juvenile fish into cod fisheries to 24% of previous recruitment.
Categories: Environment news

New system to convert food waste into fertiliser for greenhouse use gives potential 95% reduction in CO2 emissions

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
A new method of processing food waste into fertiliser has been outlined in a recent study. The process uses a digester system with microorganisms to break down organic waste into fertiliser. The resultant fertiliser was used in a low-energy greenhouse to produce a range of food crops. The method is a potential way to utilise food waste and reduce the energy consumption of food production as part of a circular economy.
Categories: Environment news

High lead exposure for griffon vultures in Spain correlates with soil lead and ammunition from game hunting

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Maps of the risk of griffon vultures’ exposure to lead in north-eastern Spain have been produced in a new study. High-risk places are mountainous areas where there are high levels of bioavailable sources of lead in the soil, but also where game hunting is prevalent, and carcasses scavenged by the birds may contain lead ammunition.
Categories: Environment news

Switching to LED street lighting could alter urban bat behaviour

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
The effect on bats of the replacement of mercury lamps with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in street lighting has been investigated in a recent study. Artificial light affects bat species differently and the activity of species normally more sensitive to light were affected less by the new LED street lamps than by traditional mercury lamps. Use of LEDs may, therefore, help to reduce the impacts of outdoor lighting on light-sensitive bats, if used at an appropriate level.
Categories: Environment news

Legal analysis finds REACH authorisation rules on imported substances of ‘very high concern’ would not violate WTO law

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
The EU would not be breaking World Trade Organization (WTO) rules if it chose to extend REACH’s authorisation scheme on substances of very high concern (SVHC) to products imported to Europe, a recent legal analysis concludes. At present, the scheme — which is effectively a ban on SVHC, with some exceptions — applies only to products made within the European Economic Area (EEA).
Categories: Environment news

Better predictions of climate change impact on wildlife thanks to genetically informed modelling

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
The effects of climate change on the distribution of species can be predicted more accurately by considering the genetic differences between different groups of the same species, a new study suggests. The researchers found that a computer model which incorporated genetic information on different groups of a US tree species was up to 12 times more accurate in predicting tree locations than a non-genetically informed model.
Categories: Environment news

Herbicide found in German estuaries, transported to the Baltic Sea

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide, able to kill a broad range of plants ('weeds') that compete with crops. This study used a validated method to assess its presence in 10 German estuaries that lead to the Baltic Sea. All but one was contaminated with glyphosate, and all were contaminated with its metabolite AMPA. The researchers recommend risk assessments for these chemicals in the Baltic Sea and other marine environments.
Categories: Environment news

Researchers have assessed how changes

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Researchers have assessed how changes in production efficiency and dietary patterns can combine to ensure food supply whilst minimising the global environmental impact of food production. The gain in the production efficiency of agriculture was found to be insufficient to meet future food demand whilst preventing additional environmental burdens, if dietary trends continue to grow based on GDP. Changing consumption patterns, including switching to less resource-demanding diets, would contribute towards ensuring future food security whilst preventing further increases in agriculture’s environmental burden. Reducing terrestrial animal production offers significant advantages, but alternative diets can also present environmental and production trade-offs.
Categories: Environment news

Sustainable drainage systems: new ecosystem services-based evaluation methods

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) could be made better for biodiversity and local people with the help of two new evaluation methods presented by a recent study. The methods, which assess the value of SuDS sites for wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, recreation and education, are described by the study’s authors as cost-effective, quick and reliable, and could help designers plan and retrofit SuDS that are wildlife-friendly and socially inclusive.
Categories: Environment news

Household sources of biocidal active substances assessed

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Sources of biocidal active substances (BAS) in common household products have been assessed in a new study from Germany. These could potentially be released into wastewater and may be toxic to wildlife and humans. The main household sources of BAS were found to be washing, cleaning and personal-care products, which together accounted for over 90% of the observations of BAS in the products found in homes surveyed by the researchers.
Categories: Environment news

Nitrification inhibitors — climate change mitigation tool recommended by the IPCC – may be less effective than previously thought

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Nitrification inhibitors are thought to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions of nitrous oxide — a potent greenhouse gas — from land. However, they may not be as effective as once thought, a new study suggests. The researchers found that, while inhibitors decrease emissions of nitrous oxide, they can increase emissions of ammonia — which is later converted to nitrous oxide. They recommend these effects are considered when evaluating inhibitors as a mitigation technology.
Categories: Environment news

How to increase the uptake of environmentally friendly fertilisers in Germany

DG ENV - Mon, 09/10/2017 - 11:03
Fertilisers have boosted crop yields but at the same time can have negative effects on the environment. This study investigates fertiliser ‘ecoinnovations’, with reduced environmental impact, in Germany. By gathering the views of experts, producers, traders and farmers, the researchers make recommendations for increasing uptake of environmentally friendly fertilisers, including increasing knowledge and awareness among traders and farmers.
Categories: Environment news

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