Norwegian Institute for Water Research
Recent publications
Soil specific surface area (SA) reflects the quantity and quality of the soil mineral and organic fractions. For soil samples that have similar clay mineral types, clay content and or organic carbon (OC) contents are good predictors of SA. However, the magnitude of the OC contribution to SA for different soil types is unclear, particularly since SA varies depending on which method or probe molecule is used to measure it. Consequently, we set out to (i) quantify the contribution of soil OC to total SA for soils with varying clay mineralogy, and (ii) assess the effect of probe molecule (EGME or H2O) and water sorption direction on the contribution of OC to the total SA. We utilized 330 soil samples (clay = 1 to 89 %; silt = 2 to 78 %; OC = 0.03 to 34.9 %) that were grouped according to clay mineralogy and OC content. The total SA was measured using EGME adsorption (SAE) and water adsorption and desorption (SAH2O). The contribution of OC to SA was examined using regression and partial correlation analyses that combined clay, silt, and OC as explanatory variables. Results showed that SAE values were strongly correlated to SAH2O, except for OC-rich soils where SAE was significantly lower than SAH2O. Apart from montmorillonite-rich samples, OC contribution to SAE was smaller than for SAH2O. Organic carbon had a positive contribution to desorption SAH2O for all sample groups, except for montmorillonite-rich samples; OC contribution was 7.5, 10.7, and 13.9 m²/g per %C for illite-rich, kaolinite-rich and OC-rich samples, respectively. There was no significant effect of water sorption direction on the OC contribution to SAH2O. Partial correlation analyses that accounted for clay and silt contents confirmed a negative contribution of OC to SAE or SAH2O for soil samples dominated by montmorillonite clay minerals. We can conclude that for the soil types investigated here (except montmorillonitic soils), OC has a positive contribution to total SA, and the magnitude of the contribution depends on the clay type.
The riverine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) flux is of similar magnitude to the terrestrial sink for atmospheric CO2, but the factors controlling it remain poorly determined and are largely absent from Earth system models (ESMs). Here, we show, for a range of European headwater catchments, that electrolyte solubility theory explains how declining precipitation ionic strength (IS) has increased the dissolution of thermally moderated pools of soluble soil organic matter (OM), while hydrological conditions govern the proportion of this OM entering the aquatic system. Solubility will continue to rise exponentially with declining IS until pollutant ion deposition fully flattens out under clean air policies. Future DOC export will increasingly depend on rates of warming and any directional changes to the intensity and seasonality of precipitation and marine ion deposition. Our findings provide a firm foundation for incorporating the processes dominating change in this component of the global carbon cycle in ESMs.
The availability of underwater light, as primary energy source for all aquatic photoautotrophs, is (and will further be) altered by changing precipitation, water turbidity, mixing depth, and terrestrial input of chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM). While experimental manipulations of CDOM input and turbidity are frequent, they often involve multiple interdependent changes (light, nutrients, C‐supply). To create a baseline for the expected effects of light reduction alone, we performed a weighted meta‐analysis on 240 published experiments (from 108 studies yielding 2500 effect sizes) that directly reduced light availability and measured marine autotroph responses. Across all organisms, habitats, and response variables, reduced light led to an average 23% reduction in biomass‐related performance, whereas the effect sizes on physiological performance did not significantly differ from zero. Especially, pigment content increased with reduced light, which indicated a strong physiological plasticity in response to diminished light. This acclimation potential was also indicated by light reduction effects minimized if the experiments lasted longer. Nevertheless, the performance (especially biomass accrual) was reduced the more the less light intensity remained available. Light reduction effects were also more negative at higher temperatures if ambient light conditions were poor. Macrophytes or benthic systems were more negatively affected by light reduction than microalgae or plankton systems, especially in physiological responses were microalgae and plankton showed slightly positive responses. Otherwise, the effect magnitudes remained surprisingly consistent across habitats and aspects of experimental design. Therefore, the strong observed log–linear relationship between remaining light and autotrophic performance can be used as a baseline to predict marine primary production in future light climate.
The deep ocean comprises complex ecosystems made up of numerous community and habitat types that provide multiple services that benefit humans. As the industrialization of the deep sea proceeds, a standardized and robust set of methods and metrics need to be developed to monitor the baseline conditions and any anthropogenic and climate change-related impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem function, and ecosystem services. Here, we review what we have learned from studies involving offshore-energy industries, including state-of-the-art technologies and strategies for obtaining reliable metrics of deep-sea biodiversity and ecosystem function. An approach that includes the detection and monitoring of ecosystem services, with open access to baseline data from multiple sectors, can help to improve our global capacity for the management of the deep ocean.
Mass developments of macrophytes occur frequently worldwide and are often considered a nuisance when interfering with human activities. It is crucial to understand the drivers of this perception if we are to develop effective management strategies for ecosystems with macrophyte mass developments. Using a comprehensive survey spanning five sites with different macrophyte species in four countries (Norway, France, Germany and South Africa), we quantified the perception of macrophyte growth as a nuisance among residents and visitors, and for different recreational activities (swimming, boating, angling, appreciation of biodiversity, appreciation of landscape and birdwatching). We then used a Bayesian network approach to integrate the perception of nuisance with the consequences of plant removal. From the 1234 responses collected from the five sites, a range of 73-93% of the respondents across the sites considered macrophyte growth a nuisance at each site. Residents perceived macrophytes up to 23% more problematic than visitors. Environmental mindedness of respondents did not influence the perception of nuisance. Perceived nuisance of macrophytes was relatively similar for different recreational activities that were possible in each case study site, although we found some site-specific variation. Finally, we illustrate how Bayesian networks can be used to choose the best management option by balancing people's perception of macrophyte growth with the potential consequences of macrophyte removal.
Aquatic macrophytes recolonised inland waters following the last glacial retreat. The resulting diversity and the variables influencing it remain largely unexplored north of the Arctic Circle, including possible effects of past colonisation routes. Our understanding of species diversity north of the Arctic Circle has also been hampered by a lack of control in sampling effort. Here we use a newly assembled set of lake surveys from Norway to test: (1) whether regional richness (γ diversity) as well as turnover, net gain and loss (β diversity) of species differ between bioclimatic zones, latitudinal bands, and geographical regions; (2) how the environment and the spatial structure (e.g. dispersal constraints) may predict lake species richness (α diversity); and (3) how the changes in species β diversity between lakes are related to these environmental and spatial gradients. We expected high species turnover with longitude, net species loss with latitude and higher species richness in north‐east compared to mid Norway due to geographical dispersal barriers and past recolonisation routes. However, the regional species richness was similar across all geographical regions after correcting for sampling effort and spatial extent, with slightly lower richness in north Norway (−4%) and north‐east Norway (−11%) than expected by the species area relationship. Species β diversity (both turnover and loss) was also surprisingly low between most areas. Species richness per lake increased with lake area and temperature, showed a preferential peak at 10 μg/L total phosphorus, was sensitive to spatial structure, and largely indifferent to calcium (or alkalinity). In contrast, β diversity (mostly turnover) increased with differences in calcium, total phosphorus, and latitude, while not responding much to temperature and lake area. Species loss and gain between lakes were hardly related to any of the selected variables. Overall, species richness (α, γ) was higher than expected north of the Arctic Circle mostly due to species turnover with little net loss. These patterns suggested good dispersal abilities by aquatic plants, after controlling for sampling efforts and spatial extent. Conservation of aquatic plants should not be driven by the delineation of terrestrial vegetation zones, but through an understanding of the variables affecting aquatic plant diversity. Finally, northern lakes may be increasingly important as reservoirs of macrophyte diversity under global warming.
Plastic heterogeneously affects social systems – notably human health and local and global economies. Here we discuss illustrative examples of the benefits and burdens of each stage of the plastic lifecycle ( e.g. , macroplastic production, consumption, recycling). We find the benefits to communities and stakeholders are principally economic, whereas burdens fall largely on human health. Furthermore, the economic benefits of plastic are rarely applied to alleviate or mitigate the health burdens it creates, amplifying the disconnect between who benefits and who is burdened. In some instances, social enterprises in low-wealth areas collect and recycle waste, creating a market for upcycled goods. While such endeavors generate local socioeconomic benefits, they perpetuate a status quo in which the burden of responsibility for waste management falls on downstream communities, rather than on producers who have generated far greater economic benefits. While the traditional cost-benefit analyses that inform decision-making disproportionately weigh economic benefits over the indirect, and often unquantifiable, costs of health burdens, we stress the need to include the health burdens of plastic to all impacted stakeholders across all plastic life stages in policy design. We therefore urge the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to consider all available knowledge on the deleterious effects of plastic across the entire plastic lifecycle while drafting the upcoming international global plastic treaty.
Mass development of macrophytes is an increasing problem in many aquatic systems worldwide. Dense mats of macrophytes can negatively affect activities like boating, fishing or hydropower production and one of the management measures often applied is mechanical removal. In this study, we analyzed the effect of mechanical macrophyte removal on phytoplankton, zooplankton, and macroinvertebrate (pelagic and benthic samples) assemblages. Our study covered five sites in four countries in Europe and Africa with highly variable characteristics. In all sites, dense mats of different macrophyte species (Juncus bulbosus in a river in Norway; a mix of native macrophytes in a German river, Elodea nuttallii in a lake in Germany, Ludwigia spp. In a French lake and Pontederia crassipes in a South African lake) are problematic and mechanical removal was applied. In every country, we repeated the same BACI (Before-After-Control-Impact) design, including "before", "one week after", and "six weeks after" sampling in a control and an impact section. Repeating the same experimental design at all sites allowed us to disentangle common effects across all sites from site-specific effects. For each taxonomic group, we analyzed three structural and three functional parameters, which we combined in a scoring system. Overall, the removal of macrophytes negatively affected biodiversity, in particular of zooplankton and macro-invertebrate assemblages. In contrast, plant removal had positive effects on the phytoplankton assemblages. Effects were more pronounced one week after removal than six weeks after. Consequently, we suggest a stronger consideration of the effect of plant removal on biodiversity to arrive at more sustainable management practices in the future.
As one of the flagship amendments to the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2021, the pan-Indian ban on a group of single-use plastic products (SUPPs) introduced in mid-2022 provided a departure point towards more progressive plastic waste legislation. The amendments have mostly been welcomed, yet challenges persist to facilitate its implementation, assess potential environmental impacts of alternative materials, and socio-economic concerns raised by various stakeholders. Considering the recent amendments to the PWM Rules, we critically engage with and highlight key considerations and prevailing challenges with regards to phasing out SUPPs. We argue that to shape sustainable solutions that reduce plastic pollution, uncertainties related to the environmental fate of SUPP alternatives need to be better understood, whilst recognising and accounting for broader socio-economic impacts of SUPP bans, including industry concerns, impacts on socio-economically disadvantaged communities, and the informal recycling sector. A stronger knowledge base on these aspects can mitigate negative social and environmental externalities, including potentially harmful consequences of ambitious plastic pollution reduction measures.
This chapter describes the best current definitions for nanoplastics in terms of specific origin, size, properties, their behavior in aquatic media, and ecotoxic interactions with other aquatic pollutants and living beings. The overall large‐scale transformations that occur in aquatic systems as a function of the intrinsic properties of nanoplastics and the receiving aquatic environments is described including the role of biomolecular corona formation (surface coverage of nanoplastics by biogenic material and/or contaminants) in nanoplastic uptake into cellular pathways and toxic effects. The documented hazards posed by nano‐polymeric particles used in bench‐scale studies as a proxy for nanoplastics on aquatic biota (including planktonic species, invertebrates, and fish) is also critically reviewed and recommendations to fill current knowledge gaps are provided.
Time series are essential for studying the long-term effects of human impact and climatic changes on the natural environment. Although data exist, no long-term phytoplankton dataset for the Norwegian coastal area has been compiled and made publicly available in a standardised format. Here we report on a compilation of phytoplankton data from inner Oslofjorden going back more than a century. The database contains 605 sampling events from 1896 to 2020, and environmental data has also been provided when available. Although the sampling frequency has varied over time, the high taxonomic quality and relatively similar methodology make it very useful. For the last 15 years (2006–2020), the sampling frequency has been almost monthly throughout the year. This dataset can be used for time series analysis to understand community structure and changes over time. It can also be used to study common taxa’ responses to environmental variables and changes, seasonal or annual species diversity and be useful for developing ecological indicators.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are a prime concern for the environment and health globally. Research shows that in developing countries such as India both the environment and human populations are severely exposed to EDCs and consequently experience rising incidents of adverse health effects such as diabetes and cancers. In this paper, we discuss the current EDC management approach in India, critically assess its limitations, and describe opportunities for potential improvements. Foremost, current EDC management actions and interventions in India are fragmented and outdated, and far behind the modern and comprehensive approaches adopted in the European Union and other developed countries. Strong and well-planned actions are required on various fronts of science, policy, commerce, and public engagement. These actions include the adoption of a dedicated and modern regulatory framework for managing EDCs, enhancing capacity and infrastructure for EDC monitoring in the environment and human population, employing public–private partnership programs for not only managing EDCs but also in the sectors that indirectly contribute toward the mismanagement of EDCs in the country, and raising awareness on EDCs and promoting health-preserving consumption habits among the public. As India hosts a large proportion of the global human population and biodiversity, the success or failure of its actions will substantially affect the direction of global efforts to manage EDCs and set an example for other developing countries.
The European and U.S. chemical agencies have listed approximately 800k chemicals about which knowledge of potential risks to human health and the environment is lacking. Filling these data gaps experimentally is impossible, so in silico approaches and prediction are essential. Many existing models are however limited by assumptions (e.g., linearity and continuity) and small training sets. In this study, we present a supervised direct classification model that connects molecular descriptors to toxicity. Categories can be driven by either data (using k-means clustering) or defined by regulation. This was tested via 907 experimentally defined 96 h LC50 values for acute fish toxicity. Our classification model explained ≈90% of the variance in our data for the training set and ≈80% for the test set. This strategy gave a 5-fold decrease in the frequency of incorrect categorization compared to a quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) regression model. Our model was subsequently employed to predict the toxicity categories of ≈32k chemicals. A comparison between the model-based applicability domain (AD) and the training set AD was performed, suggesting that the training set-based AD is a more adequate way to avoid extrapolation when using such models. The better performance of our direct classification model compared to that of QSAR methods makes this approach a viable tool for assessing the hazards and risks of chemicals.
Purpose: The Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework, a systematic tool that can link available mechanistic data with phenotypic outcomes of relevance to regulatory decision-making, is being explored in areas related to radiation risk assessment. To examine the challenges including the use of AOPs to support the radiation protection community, an international horizon-style exercise (HSE) was initiated through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency High-Level Group on Low Dose Research Radiation/Chemical AOP Joint Topical Group (JTG). The objective of the HSE was to facilitate the collection of ideas from a range of experts, to short-list a set of priority research questions that could, if answered, improve the description of the radiation dose-response relationship for low dose/dose-rate exposures, as well as reduce uncertainties in estimating the risk of developing adverse health outcomes following such exposures. Materials and methods: The HSE was guided by an international steering committee (SC) of radiation risk experts. In the first phase, research questions were solicited on areas that can be supported by the AOP framework, or challenges on the use of AOPs in radiation risk assessment. In the second phase, questions received were refined and sorted by the SC using a best-worst scaling (BWS) method. During a virtual 3-day workshop, the list of questions was further narrowed. In the third phase, an international survey of the broader radiation protection community led to an orderly ranking of the top questions. Results: Of the 271 questions solicited, 254 were accepted and categorized into 9 themes. These were further refined to the top 25 prioritized questions. Among these, the higher ranked questions will be considered as ‘important’ to drive future initiatives in the low dose radiation protection community. These included questions on the ability of AOPs to delineate responses across different levels of biological organization, and how AOPs could be applied to address research questions on radiation quality, doses or dose-rates, exposure time patterns and deliveries, and uncertainties in low dose/dose-rate effects. A better understanding of these concepts is required to support the use of the AOP framework in radiation risk assessment. Conclusion: Through dissemination of these results and considerations on next steps, the JTG will address select priority questions to advance the development and use of AOPs in the radiation protection community. The major themes observed will be discussed in the context of their relevance to areas of research that support the system of radiation protection.
Background: Studies on human health and ecological effects of ionizing radiation are rapidly evolving as innovative technologies arise and the body of scientific knowledge grows. Structuring this information could effectively support the development of decision making tools and health risk models to complement current system of radiation protection. To this end, the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) approach is being explored as a means to consolidate the most relevant research to identify causation between exposure to a chemical or non-chemical stressor and disease or adverse effect progression. This tool is particularly important for low dose and low dose rate radiation exposures because of the latency and uncertainties in the biological responses at these exposure levels. To progress this aspect, it is essential to build a community of developers, facilitators, risk assessors (in the private sector and in government), policy-makers, and regulators who understand the strengths and weaknesses of, and how to appropriately utilize AOPs for consolidating our knowledge on the impact of low dose ionizing radiation. Through co-ordination with the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) High-Level Group on Low-Dose Research (HLG-LDR) and OECD's AOP Programme, initiatives are under way to demonstrate this approach in radiation research and regulation. Among these, a robust communications strategy and stakeholder engagement will be essential. It will help establish best practices for AOPs in institutional project development and aid in dissemination for more efficient and timely uptake and use of AOPs. In this regard, on June 1, 2021, the Radiation and Chemical (Rad/Chem) AOP Joint Topical Group was formed as part of the initiative from the NEA's HLG-LDR. The topical group will work to develop a communication and engagement strategy to define the target audiences, establish the clear messages and identify the delivery and engagement platforms. Conclusion: The incorporation of the best science and better decision-making should motive the radiation protection community to develop, refine and use AOPs, recognizing that their incorporation into radiation health risk assessments is critical for public health and environmental protection in the 21st century.
Background: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), through its Chemical Safety Programme, is delegated to ensure the safety of humans and wildlife from harmful toxicants. To support these needs, initiatives to increase the efficiency of hazard identification and risk management are under way. Amongst these, the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) approach integrates information on biological knowledge and test methodologies (both established and new) to support regulatory decision making. AOPs collate biological knowledge from different sources, assess lines of evidence through considerations of causality, and undergo rigorous peer-review before being subsequently endorsed by the OECD. It is envisioned that the OECD AOP Development Programme will transform the toxicity testing paradigm by leveraging the strengths of mechanistic and modeling based approaches and enhance the utility of high throughput screening assays. Since its launch, in 2012, the AOP Development Programme has matured with a greater number of AOPs endorsed, and the attraction of new scientific disciplines (e.g. the radiation field). Recently, a radiation and chemical (Rad/Chem) AOP Joint Topical Group has been formed by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency High-level Group on Low-dose Research (HLG-LDR) under the auspices of the Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH). The topical group will work to evolve the development and use of the AOP framework in radiation research and regulation. As part of these efforts, the group will bring awareness and understanding on the program, as it has matured from the chemical perspective. In this context, this paper provides the radiation community with a high-level overview of the OECD AOP Development Programme, including examples of application using knowledge gleaned from the field of chemical toxicology, and their work toward regulatory implementation. Conclusion: Although the drivers for developing AOPs in chemical sector differ from that of the radiation field, the principles and transparency of the approach can benefit both scientific disciplines. By providing perspectives and an understanding of the evolution of the OECD AOP Development Programme including case examples and work toward quantitative AOP development, it may motivate the expansion and implementation of AOPs in the radiation field.
Background: The purpose of toxicology is to protect human health and the environment. To support this, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), operating via its Extended Advisory Group for Molecular Screening and Toxicogenomics (EAGMST), has been developing the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) approach to consolidate evidence for chemical toxicity spanning multiple levels of biological organization. The knowledge transcribed into AOPs provides a structured framework to transparently organize data, examine the weight of evidence of the AOP, and identify causal relationships between exposure to stressors and adverse effects of regulatory relevance. The AOP framework has undergone substantial maturation in the field of hazard characterization of chemicals over the last decade, and has also recently gained attention from the radiation community as a means to advance the mechanistic understanding of human and ecological health effects from exposure to ionizing radiation at low dose and low dose-rates. To fully exploit the value of such approaches for facilitating risk assessment and management in the field of radiation protection, solicitation of experiences and active cooperation between chemical and radiation communities are needed. As a result, the Radiation and Chemical (Rad/Chem) AOP joint topical group was formed on June 1, 2021 as part of the initiative from the High Level Group on Low Dose Research (HLG-LDR). HLG-LDR is overseen by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Committee on Radiation Protection and Public Health (CRPPH). The main aims of the joint AOP topical group are to advance the use of AOPs in radiation research and foster broader implementation of AOPs into hazard and risk assessment. With global representation, it serves as a forum to discuss, identify and develop joint initiatives that support research and take on regulatory challenges. Conclusion: The Rad/Chem AOP joint topical group will specifically engage, promote, and implement the use of the AOP framework to: (a) organize and evaluate mechanistic knowledge relevant to the protection of human and ecosystem health from radiation; (b) identify data gaps and research needs pertinent to expanding knowledge of low dose and low dose-rate radiation effects; and (c) demonstrate utility to support risk assessment by developing radiation-relevant case studies. It is envisioned that the Rad/Chem AOP joint topical group will actively liaise with the OECD EAGMST AOP developmental program to collectively advance areas of common interest and, specifically, provide recommendations for harmonization of the AOP framework to accommodate non-chemical stressors, such as radiation.
The chemical pollution crisis severely threatens human and environmental health globally. To tackle this challenge the establishment of an overarching international science–policy body has recently been suggested. We strongly support this initiative based on the awareness that humanity has already likely left the safe operating space within planetary boundaries for novel entities including chemical pollution. Immediate action is essential and needs to be informed by sound scientific knowledge and data compiled and critically evaluated by an overarching science–policy interface body. Major challenges for such a body are (i) to foster global knowledge production on exposure, impacts and governance going beyond data-rich regions (e.g., Europe and North America), (ii) to cover the entirety of hazardous chemicals, mixtures and wastes, (iii) to follow a one-health perspective considering the risks posed by chemicals and waste on ecosystem and human health, and (iv) to strive for solution-oriented assessments based on systems thinking. Based on multiple evidence on urgent action on a global scale, we call scientists and practitioners to mobilize their scientific networks and to intensify science–policy interaction with national governments to support the negotiations on the establishment of an intergovernmental body based on scientific knowledge explaining the anticipated benefit for human and environmental health.
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238 members
Hilde Trannum
  • Section for Biodiversity in Marine Environments
Christian Vogelsang
  • Environmental technology
Ailbhe Macken
  • Environmental contaminants
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