European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Management of datasets that include health information and other sensitive personal information of European study participants has to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, Regulation (EU) 2016/679). Within scientific research, the widely subscribed'FAIR' data principles should apply, meaning that research data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable. Balancing the aim of open science driven FAIR data management with GDPR compliant personal data protection safeguards is now a common challenge for many research projects dealing with (sensitive) personal data. In December 2020 a workshop was held with representatives of several large EU research consortia and of the European Commission to reflect on how to apply the FAIR data principles for environment and health research (E&H). Several recent data intensive EU funded E&H research projects face this challenge and work intensively towards developing solutions to access, exchange, store, handle, share, process and use such sensitive personal data, with the aim to support European and transnational collaborations. As a result, several recommendations, opportunities and current limitations were formulated. New technical developments such as federated data management and analysis systems, machine learning together with advanced search software, harmonized ontologies and data quality standards should in principle facilitate the FAIRification of data. To address ethical, legal, political and financial obstacles to the wider re-use of data for research purposes, both specific expertise and underpinning infrastructure are needed. There is a need for the E&H research data to find their place in the European Open Science Cloud. Communities using health and population data, environmental data and other publicly available data have to interconnect and synergize. To maximize the use and re-use of environment and health data, a dedicated supporting European infrastructure effort, such as the EIRENE research infrastructure within the ESFRI roadmap 2021, is needed that would interact with existing infrastructures.
The negative impacts of soil sealing are numerous, from withdrawing fertile soil from biomass production to modifying the microclimate and decreasing biodiversity. Many of the processes are interrelated and propagate further undesirable consequences from local to global levels. Three issues are especially important from the viewpoint of multiscale ecological cycles and consequent environmental impacts. One is soil organic carbon (SOC), the other is soil water management and the third is biomass productivity. In this study, we assessed the lost carbon sequestration potential due to soil sealing in functional Urban Areas (FUAs) of Europe, the potential effect of soil sealing on the topsoil to hold water to its full capacity and the loss of biomass productivity potential. Findings revealed that one-fifth of the area of soil that became sealed between 2012 and 2018 was of high productivity potential, and almost two-thirds was of medium productivity potential. New soil sealing caused a loss of carbon sequestration potential estimated at 4 million tons of carbon of the FUAs and also caused an estimated potential loss of water-holding capacity of 668 million m3.
Study region This study is developed in three catchments located in Denmark, France and Spain, covering different climate and physical conditions in Europe. Study focus The simulation skill of hydrological models under contrasting climate conditions is evaluated using a Differential Split Sample Test (DSST). In each catchment, three different hydrological models are given a weight based on their simulation skill according to their robustness considering the DSST results for traditional and purpose-specific metrics. Four weighting approaches are used, each including a different set of evaluation metrics. The weights are applied to obtain reliable future projections of annual mean river discharge and purpose-specific metrics. New hydrological insights Projections are found to be sensitive to model weightings in cases where the models show significantly different skills in the DSST. However, when the skills of the models are similar, there is no significant change when applying different weighting schemes. Nevertheless, the methodology proposed here increases the reliability of the purpose-for-fit hydrological projections in a climate change context.
Exposure to different chemicals is an inevitable part of our everyday lives. Within HBM4EU, focus group discussions were conducted to gather data on citizens’ perceptions of chemical exposure and human biomonitoring. These discussions were hosted in Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands, and North Macedonia following a protocol developed in the first round of discussions. Results indicate the very high concern of European citizens regarding food safety and the environment. Focus group participants were well aware of potential uptake of chemicals through food consumption (e.g., preservatives, flavor enhancers, coloring agents, pesticides, fertilizers, metals), drinking water, or from polluted air and water. One of the positive aspects identified here, is the high interest of citizens in awareness and education on personal measures to control exposure. The promotion of personal behavioral changes requires active involvement of society (e.g., commuting habits, energy choices, waste disposal, dietary habits). Activities should focus on raising awareness of the general public, implementation of policy measures, and mainstreaming of related topics into the education system. Raising awareness of the general public may promote engagement of citizens, which in turn may empower them to put pressure on politicians to take effective actions. There is also a need for further research which might focus on the impact of country-specific situations and of the COVID-19 pandemic on the exposure of citizens to chemicals.
This manuscript summarizes the outcomes of the 6th EuroSpeleo Protection Symposium. Special emphasis was laid on presenting and discussing monitoring activities under the umbrella of the Habitats Directive (EU Council Directive 92/43/EEC) for habitat type 8310 "Caves not open to the public" and the Emerald Network. The discussions revealed a high level of variation in the currently conducted underground monitoring activities: there is no uniform definition of what kind of underground environments the "cave" habitat should cover, how often a specific cave has to be monitored, and what parameters should be measured to evaluate the conservation status. The variation in spatial dimensions in national definitions of caves further affects the number of catalogued caves in a country and the number of caves to be monitored. Not always participants are aware of the complete national monitoring process and that data sets should be freely available or easily accessible. The discussions further showed an inherent dilemma between an anticipated uniform monitoring approach with a coherent assessment methodology and, on the contrary, the uniqueness of caves and subterranean biota to be assessed – combined with profound knowledge gaps and a lack of resources. Nevertheless, some good practices for future cave monitoring activities have been identified by the participants: (1) Cave monitoring should focus on bio- and geodiversity elements alike; (2) Local communities should be involved, and formal agreements envisaged; (3) Caves must be understood as windows into the subterranean realm; (4) Touristic caves should not be excluded ad-hoc from regular monitoring; (5) New digital tools and open FAIR data infrastructures should be implemented; (6) Cave biomonitoring should focus on a large(r) biological diversity; and (7) DNA-based tools should be integrated. Finally, the importance of the 'forgotten' Recommendation No. 36 from the Bern Convention as a guiding legal European document was highlighted.
In this study, we review approaches for uncertainty appraisal in the life cycle assessment literature. We cover the acknowledgement of stochastic and epistemic uncertainty in uncertainty and sensitivity analysis and knowledge quality assessment, respectively. Consistent with previous works, our findings indicate that uncertainty is only appraised in few studies on life cycle assessment. Most of these contributions cover only one of the phases of life cycle assessment, mainly the life cycle inventory. Less attention has been devoted to the phases of goal and scope definition and life cycle impact assessment. Additionally, in most studies, uncertainty analysis and sensitivity analysis have been applied independently, as wrongly assumed they cover different uncertainty spaces. We also identify the scope for improvement in the appraisal of epistemic uncertainty and the correct definition of the probability distribution of the uncertain factors. We conclude by highlighting studies in which sensible practices have been adopted, identifying open challenges, and suggesting possible ways forward.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15 (Life on Land), adopted the indicator 15.3.1 to measure the Land Degradation Neutrality. This indicator is based on three sub-indicators: (1) Trends in Land Cover, (2) Land Productivity and (3) Carbon Stocks. The Land Productivity sub-indicator refers to the total above-ground Net Primary Production and reflects changes in health and productive capacity of the land. It can be calculated using the Land Productivity Dynamics approach, which performs a combined assessment of the long term tendency of change of land productivity and its current level relative to homogeneous land areas. Here, we present the R-based tool LPDynR, which implements the Land Productivity Dynamics approach for the calculation of the Land Productivity sub-indicator. LPDynR ingests vegetation-related indices derived from time series of remote sensed imagery. The final indicator is a 5-class map, ranging from declining to increasing land productivity. As an example of LPDynR functionalities and applicability, we present a case study for Europe. First, we show the general way to calculate the indicator for the entire time series (2000–2019), explained in a step by step process. Secondly, we show how to alternatively calculate the indicator based only on the long term tendency of change, but we evidence the added value of including the current level of productivity to refine the final indicator. Finally, we present some code for the calculation of “partial indicators” in terms of time scale along the observation period, which may help the user to understand the land productivity dynamics within the time series, as well as to assess the stability of the final product. While the indicator shows a general positive dynamics across Europe during the period 2000–2019, some of the partial maps show more negative trends, demonstrating the highly fluctuating character of vegetation.
The concept of ‘wellbeing economy’ (WE), that is, an economy that pursues human and ecological wellbeing instead of material growth, is gaining support amongst policymakers, business, and civil society. Over the past couple of years, several national governments have adopted the WE as their guiding framework to design development policies and assess social and economic progress. While it shares a number of basic principles with various post-growth conceptualisations, the WE's language and concepts tend to be more adaptable to different social and economic contexts, thus penetrating into policy processes and connecting to a variety of cultural traits, not only in advanced economies but also in less industrialised nations. In this paper, we describe the key features of the WE, including its approach to key concepts like work, productivity and technology and several examples of its policy impact. We conclude by positing that the WE framework may be one of the most effective bases to mainstream post-growth policies at the national and global level.
The need for sustainability transitions is widely recognised, along with a concurrent need for the evolution of knowledge systems to inform more effective policy action. Although there are many new policy targets relating to net zero emissions and other sustainability challenges, cities, regional and national governments are struggling to rapidly develop transformational policies to achieve them. As academics and practitioners who work at the science-policy interface, we identify specific knowledge and competency needs for governing sustainability transitions related to the interlinked phases of envisioning, implementing and evaluating. In short, coordinated reforms of both policy and knowledge systems are urgently needed to address the speed and scale of sustainability challenges. These include embedding systems thinking literacy, mainstreaming participatory policy making, expanding the capacity to undertake transdisciplinary research, more adaptive governance and continuous organisational learning. These processes must guide further knowledge development, uptake and use as part of an iterative and holistic process. Such deep-seated change in policy-knowledge systems will be disruptive and presents challenges for traditional organisational models of knowledge delivery, but is essential for successful sustainability transformations.
Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of substances for which there are widespread concerns about their extreme persistence in combination with toxic effects. It has been argued that PFAS should only be employed in those uses that are necessary for health or safety or are critical for the functioning of society and where no alternatives are available ("essential-use concept"). Implementing the essential-use concept requires a sufficient understanding of the current uses of PFAS and of the availability, suitability, and hazardous properties of alternatives. To illustrate the information requirements under the essential-use concept, we investigate seven different PFAS uses, three in consumer products and four industrial applications. We investigate how much information is available on the types and functions of PFAS in these uses, how much information is available on alternatives, their performance and hazardous properties and, finally, whether this information is sufficient as a basis for deciding on the essentiality of a PFAS use. The results show (i) the uses of PFAS are highly diverse and information on alternatives is often limited or lacking; (ii) PFAS in consumer products often are relatively easy to replace; (iii) PFAS uses in industrial processes can be highly complex and a thorough evaluation of the technical function of each PFAS and of the suitability of alternatives is needed; (iv) more coordination among PFAS manufacturers, manufacturers of alternatives to PFAS, users of these materials, government authorities, and other stakeholders is needed to make the process of phasing out PFAS more transparent and coherent.
Data generated by the rapidly evolving human biomonitoring (HBM) programmes are providing invaluable opportunities to support and advance regulatory risk assessment and management of chemicals in occupational and environmental health domains. However, heterogeneity across studies, in terms of design, terminology, 2 Data value chain Data governance Harmonisation Registry biomarker nomenclature, and data formats, limits our capacity to compare and integrate data sets retrospectively (reuse). Registration of HBM studies is common for clinical trials; however, the study designs and resulting data collections cannot be traced easily. We argue that an HBM Global Registry Framework (HBM GRF) could be the solution to several of challenges hampering the (re)use of HBM (meta)data. The aim is to develop a global, host-independent HBM registry framework based on the use of harmonised open-access protocol templates from designing, undertaking of an HBM study to the use and possible reuse of the resulting HBM (meta)data. This framework should apply FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) principles as a core data management strategy to enable the (re)use of HBM (meta)data to its full potential through the data value chain. Moreover, we believe that implementation of FAIR principles is a fundamental enabler for digital transformation within environmental health. The HBM GRF would encompass internationally harmonised and agreed open access templates for HBM study protocols, structured web-based functionalities to deposit, find, and access harmonised protocols of HBM studies. Registration of HBM studies using the HBM GRF is anticipated to increase FAIRness of the resulting (meta)data. It is also considered that harmonisation of existing data sets could be performed retrospectively. As a consequence, data wrangling activities to make data ready for analysis will be minimised. In addition, this framework would enable the HBM (inter)national community to trace new HBM studies already in the planning phase and their results once finalised. The HBM GRF could also serve as a platform enhancing communication between scientists, risk assessors, and risk managers/policy makers. The planned European Partnership for the Assessment of Risk from Chemicals (PARC) work along these lines, based on the experience obtained in previous joint European initiatives. Therefore, PARC could very well bring a first demonstration of first essential functionalities within the development of the HBM GRF.
Sea-level rise is a direct consequence of climate change. Primarily due to ocean thermal expansion and transfer from land ice (glaciers, ice sheets) to the ocean, sea-level rise is therefore an integrated indicator of climate change. Coastal zones and communities are expected to be increasingly threatened by sea level changes, with various adverse and widespread impacts. The European Union’s Earth Observation Programmed, Copernicus, monitors our planet and its environment, for the ultimate benefit of society. This includes the monitoring of sea level changes and the provision of ancillary fields needed to assess sea-level rise coastal risks, to guide adaptation and to support related policies and directives. Copernicus is organized with a space component, including dedicated Earth Observation satellites (Sentinel missions), and services, which transform the wealth of satellite, in situ and integrated numerical model information into added-value datasets and information usable by scientists, managers and decision-makers, and the wider public. Here, an overview of the Copernicus products and services to inform on sea level rise adaptation is provided. Perspectives from Copernicus services on future evolutions to better inform on coastal sea level rise, associated risks, and support adaptation are also discussed.
Forest condition, biodiversity, and ecosystem services are strongly interlinked. The biodiversity levels depend to a large extent on the integrity, health, and vitality of forests at the same time as losses of forest biodiversity lead to decreased forest productivity and sustainability. Under this conceptual framework, this study presents a methodology for mapping forest condition at European scale supporting the attainment of the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Target 5 “the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced” and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as the EU forest strategy since the sustainable forest management is oriented to support the provision of forest services and to enhance the condition of biodiversity forests’ host. The work presents the developments of an operational indicator at European scale. This spatially explicit information on forest condition can be the baseline map with a 1 km resolution to monitor the state and changes of condition by exposition to pressures and threats. This condition indicator considers structural, functional, and compositional aspects of forest with relevance for health and vitality of species and habitats hosted by forest ecosystems. The methodology implemented used harmonized, published and open datasets. It provided confident results for the assessment of the condition within hemiboreal, temperate and alpine forests, showing the Carpathian, Dinaric Alps and Alps, among others, as hotspots with pre-dominantly good condition. The results were validated with data derived from the reporting for the EU Habitat Directive and explicit dataset on known primary forests in Europe. However, this method underestimated the forest condition in the Mediterranean and Boreal forest types due to data gaps, regional specific characteristics, and design limitations. This study illustrates an operational and transferable approach for addressing the assessment of ecosystem forest condition at European scale being considered as a support tool for European countries when mapping and assessing their national territory, as potential common approach to map forest ecosystems that allows for consistent aggregation and comparisons across scales.
The projected global temperature increase in the 21st century is expected to have consequences on energy consumption due to increase (decrease) in energy demand to cool (heat) the built environments. Such increase (decrease) also depends on the number of end users for such energy, thus it is crucial to include population into the analyses. This study presents population‐weighted (w) cooling (CDD), heating (HDD) and energy (EDD) degree‐day projections at global, regional, and local scales for the 21st century. We used a large ensemble of high‐resolution (0.44°) climate simulations from the COordinated Regional‐climate Downscaling EXperiment (CORDEX) to compute degree‐days for baseline (1981‐2010) and global warming levels (GWLs from 1.5°C to 4°C), based on two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). We used population projections were from the NASA‐SEDAC datasets, driven by five socio‐economic scenarios (SSPs). The progressive increase in CDD outbalances the decrease in HDD in Central and South America, Africa, and Oceania and the opposite situation is likely to occur in North America, Europe, and Asia; at global scale, they are balanced. However, if results are weighted according to population, , the increase in wCDD outbalances the decrease in wHDD almost everywhere for most GWLs and SSPs. Few regions show a decreasing tendency in wEDD at high GWLs for all SSPs: central Europe, northwestern, northeastern, and eastern Asia. Globally, wEDD are likely to double at 2°C compared to 1981‐2010 independently of the SSP. Under the worst‐case scenario (SSP3), at 4°C wCDD are approximately 380% higher and wHDD approximately 30% lower than in the recent past, leading to an increase in wEDD close to 300%. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND AND AIM: The development of Human Biomonitoring (HBM) surveys is highly dependent on the cooperation and engagement of the individuals being sampled. As such, in the context of the European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU) an online citizen survey was conducted in Europe to gain insights into the perceptions of the population about HBM and exposure to chemicals. METHODS: The survey was undertaken between September 2020 and February 2021 and was available in the languages of all 30 HBM4EU-participating countries (EU, associated countries, Israel) through the HBM4EU website. Dissemination was done by the HBM4EU country representatives (National Hub Contact Points). RESULTS: Responses were received from 5391 participants. Around half were 35-54 years old and the majority were female, with higher education and employed. Concerning the perception of the respondents on HBM, the majority considers it should be done (81.7%), even if the chemicals are considered well managed. Most participants consider it a reliable method (84.0%) that should be performed more often (87.3%) and be more coordinated either at a European (86.2%) or at a national level (83.7%). The large majority of the respondents thinks that HBM results are important to evaluate the chemical exposure of the population (96.2%), to study the health impact of chemical exposure (96.3%) and to support the development of health policies (94.9%). The respondents also consider HBM results highly relevant to raise awareness and promote understanding of the impact of chemical exposure amongst the general population (94.3%), health professionals and policy makers. CONCLUSIONS: The use of HBM as a tool to assess human exposure to chemicals, allowing its management and health protection, was well perceived by respondents across Europe. Furthermore, the need for more studies conducted in a coordinated way was indicated. Future work should comprise population groups less represented here and should also attempt to understand how perceptions change over time. KEYWORDS: International collaboration, Chemical exposures,Community-engaged research, Community outreach, Science communication
This article contributes to discussions of the social acceptance of renewable energy (RE) by developing an analytical framework that considers three dimensions (community, market, and political-regulator) at three different scales (macro, meso, and micro). This framework is conceived in order to identify those dynamics that are potentially counterproductive to the energy transition and need further policy emphasis, as well as supporting those that demonstrate a positive impact. Using this framework, we critically reflect on the 2010 National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) policies of three European countries with high wind resources: Denmark, Ireland, and the UK. Within the RE policy landscapes of these three countries lies the contentious issue of social acceptance of wind power. The framework analysis reveals similar policy profiles for each country, characterized by a heavy focus on the market dimension at all scales, an effort to allow private business to steer the transition, and a low focus on the community dimension. In doing so, our research reveals how policy-making processes have privileged the voice of actors who are able to communicate quantifiable data and evidence to support their position, and these actors thereby have greater influence to shape national energy policies.
Vegetation phenology obtained from time series of remote sensing data is relevant for a range of ecological applications. The freely available Sentinel-2 imagery at a 10 m spatial resolution with a ~ 5-day repeat cycle provides an opportunity to map vegetation phenology at an unprecedented fine spatial scale. To facilitate the production of a Europe-wide Copernicus Land Monitoring Sentinel-2 based phenology dataset, we design and evaluate a framework based on a comprehensive set of ground observations, including eddy covariance gross primary production (GPP), PhenoCam green chromatic coordinate (GCC), and phenology phases from the Pan-European Phenological database (PEP725). We test three vegetation indices (VI) — the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), the two-band enhanced vegetation index (EVI2), and the plant phenology index (PPI) — regarding their capability to track the seasonal trajectories of GPP and GCC and their performance in reflecting spatial variabilities of the corresponding GPP and GCC phenometrics, i.e., start of season (SOS) and end of season (EOS). We find that for GPP phenology, PPI performs the best, in particular for evergreen coniferous forest areas where the seasonal variations in leaf area are small and snow is prevalent during wintertime. Results are inconclusive for GCC phenology, for which no index is consistently better than the others. When comparing to PEP725 phenology phases, PPI and EVI2 perform better than NDVI regarding the spatial correlation and consistency (i.e., lower standard deviation). We also link VI phenometrics at various amplitude thresholds to the PEP725 phenophases and find that PPI SOS at 25% and PPI EOS at 15% provide the best matches with the ground-observed phenological stages. Finally, we demonstrate that applying bidirectional reflectance distribution function correction to Sentinel-2 reflectance is a step that can be excluded for phenology mapping in Europe.
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64 members
Hans-Martin Füssel
  • Climate, Energy and Transport (CET)
Fabio Farinosi
  • Natural Capital and Ecosystems
Annemarie Bastrup-Birk
  • Natural capital and ecosystem services
Xenia Trier
  • Integrated Environmental Assessment, Green Economy group
Wouter Vanneuville
  • Climate Change, Energy and Transport
Copenhagen, Denmark