Euro-limpacs Deliverables

ABSTRACT - DELIVERABLE 109

Special Issue of Science of the Total Environment describing vanguard new data, process understanding and model development

This Deliverable comprises a Special Issue of Science of the Total Environment describing vanguard new data, process understanding and model development. The introduction to this follows;

In 2000, the European Union adopted the Water Framework Directive (WFD) which aims to protect and improve the water resources and freshwater ecology of Europe. It is hoped that the aim will be achieved by setting standards on water quality and ecological status that will be met by reducing pollutant inputs to freshwaters from the surrounding catchments. The aims of the Directive are laudable and worth pursuing, but the practical application of the Directive and the assessment of its success are difficult for four reasons. Firstly, whilst the study of the relationships between the physical and chemical processes and the ecology within lakes is established, the equivalent science in rivers and wetlands is still relatively new. The understanding of how fluvial hydrochemistry controls the ecology and the feed−back mechanisms are not sufficiently understood to predict the ecological response in rivers and wetlands with certainty. Secondly, changes in the climate, which are currently predicted to exceed natural variability, may confound our current understanding of chemical cycles in the soils, groundwater, lakes, rivers and wetlands. Thirdly, the pollutants which affect the ecology, either directly within a catchment or indirectly by contributing to air pollution or climate change, are typically by−products of industry, farming, transport and power generation; all are essential to the economy of Europe and therefore pollution controls in these economic sectors will have social and economic consequences, which are not fully understood. Finally, questions remain over what “good” ecological status means.
Given the current state of scientific knowledge, research projects have been commissioned at the national and international scales to investigate how changes in pollutant inputs to river−systems, coupled with future predictions of climate change, will affect the chemical and ecological status of freshwaters (e.g. Euroharp; EuroLakes; CLIME; Lowland Catchment Research, LOCAR). One such project funded by the European Union is Euro−limpacs (http://www.eurolimpacs.ucl.ac.uk) which aims to determine how the chemistry and ecology of freshwater systems throughout Europe will change in response to changes in land−management, atmospheric deposition and effluent inputs set against the background of expected climate change.

This volume brings together the first monitoring and modelling results of the Euro−limpacs project and other contemporary work to define the current state of the modelling effort; and to provide new data and considerations requiring attention by environmental modellers. The volume provides the foundation papers on which further modelling efforts will be built and describes the study sites used. Most importantly the papers provide new model−based assessments of the factors and processes controlling the behaviour of the water quality and ecology in river−systems and quantitative estimates of the likely response of freshwater ecosystems to climate change. Gaps in the data and model−based assessments are identified in the individual papers.

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