Umhvørvisstovan - Faroese Environment Agency
Recent publications
Plastic pollution has been reported to affect Arctic mammals and birds. There are strengths and limitations to monitoring litter and microplastics using Arctic mammals and birds. One strength is the direct use of these data to understand the potential impacts on Arctic biodiversity as well as effects on human health, if selected species are consumed. Monitoring programs must be practically designed with all purposes in mind, and a spectrum of approaches and species will be required. Spatial and temporal trends of plastic pollution can be built on the information obtained from studies on northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), a species that is an environmental indicator. To increase our understanding of the potential implications for human health, the species and locations chosen for monitoring should be selected based on the priorities of local communities. Monitoring programs under development should examine species for population level impacts in Arctic mammals and birds. Mammals and birds can be useful in source and surveillance monitoring via locally designed monitoring programs. We recommend future programs consider a range of monitoring objectives with mammals and birds as part of the suite of tools for monitoring litter and microplastics, plastic chemical additives and effects, and for understanding sources.
The adverse effect of the ionospheric scintillation on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) requires scintillation monitoring on a global scale. Ionospheric Scintillation Monitoring Receivers (ISMR) are usually adopted to monitor scintillation, while they are not suitable for global monitoring due to the 50 Hz data collecting rate, which restricts the distribution. This paper proposes a new method to extract the phase scintillation index from each GNSS carrier with 1s‐sampling‐interval, mainly based on the cycle slip detection, the geodetic detrending and the wavelet transform, in which the optimal symmetry parameter and the time‐bandwidth product are determined with trial calculation. Taken the σϕ ${\sigma }_{\phi }$ index provided by ISMR as the reference, 1‐year observations are utilized to evaluate the scintillation monitoring performance of the extracted index regarding the correlation of the magnitude in each observation arc, the detected daily scintillation occurrence rate, the diurnal variation pattern of the ionospheric scintillation, the correlation between the scintillation occurrence rate and the space weather parameter, and the complementary cumulative distribution of the magnitudes. Compared to the performance of Rate of Total electron content Index, a higher consistency can be achieved between the extracted index and the σϕ ${\sigma }_{\phi }$ index, indicating the rationality of applying the proposed method in monitoring scintillations. The extracted scintillation index can be expected to introduce geodetic receivers operating at 1s‐sampling‐interval into the field of ionospheric scintillation monitoring on a global scale.
Lack of knowledge on levels and trends of litter and microplastic in the Arctic, is limiting our understanding of the sources, transport, fate and effects is hampering global activities aimed at reducing litter and microplastic in the environment. To obtain a holistic view to managing litter and microplastics in the Arctic, we considered the current state of knowledge and methods for litter and microplastics monitoring in eleven environmental compartments representing the marine, freshwater, terrestrial and atmospheric environments. Based on available harmonized methods, and existing data in the Arctic, we recommend prioritization of implementing litter and microplastics monitoring in the Arctic in four Priority 1 compartments - water, aquatic sediments, shorelines and seabirds. One or several of these compartments should be monitored to provide benchmark data for litter and microplastics in the Arctic and, in the future, data on spatial and temporal trends. For the other environmental compartments, methods should be refined for future sources and surveillance monitoring, as well as monitoring of effects. Implementation of the monitoring activities should include community-based local components where possible. While organized as national and regional programs, monitoring of litter and microplastics in the Arctic should be coordinated, with a view to future pan-Arctic assessments.
A better understanding of the climatology of the ionospheric scintillation in the high-latitude region is beneficial to model the adverse effect of the ionospheric scintillation on the positioning navigation and timing services of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). This paper conducts a statistical study on the characterization of the phase and amplitude scintillation events in the high-latitude region based on scintillation indices provided by ionospheric scintillation monitoring receivers (ISMR) collected during the years of 2014 to 2020. Results of this paper show that phase scintillation dominates in most of the high-latitude regions. The proportion of the phase scintillation with strong magnitude in the middle-high latitude region is greater than that in the high and middle latitude regions, but the duration of the scintillation in the middle-high latitude region is generally shorter, with an average value of about 8 minutes. The ionospheric scintillation presents seasonal and diurnal dependency due to the effect of the solar radiation and earth orientation. The relationships between the occurrence of ionospheric scintillation and the space weather parameters, Ap and IMF, are also studied, showing that Ap can reflect the intensity of the ionospheric scintillation in the middle-high latitude region, and the ionospheric scintillation occurs more frequently under the condition of the northward IMF.
Monitoring ionospheric scintillation on a global scale requires introducing a network of widely distributed geodetic receivers, which call for a special type of scintillation index due to the low sampling rate of such receivers. ROTI, as a scintillation index with great potential being applied in geodetic receivers globally, lacks extensive verification in the high-latitude region. Taking the phase scintillation index (σϕ) provided by ionospheric scintillation monitoring receivers as the reference, this paper analyses data collected at 8 high-latitude GNSS stations to validate the performance of ROTI statistically. The data is evaluated against 4 parameters: 1, the detected daily scintillation occurrence rate; 2, the ability to detect the daily occurrence pattern of ionospheric scintillation; 3, the correlation between the detected scintillation and the space weather parameters, including the 10.7cm solar flux, Ap, the H component of longitudinally asymmetric and polar cap north indices; 4, the overall distribution of the scintillation magnitude. Results reveal that the scintillation occurrence rates, the occurrence patterns of ionospheric scintillations and the correlations provided by ROTI are generally consistent with those given by σϕ, particularly in the middle-high-latitude region. However, the analysis on the distribution of σϕ for different ranges of ROTI shows ROTI cannot achieve accurate scintillation monitoring at the epoch level in all selected stations. The main outcomes of this paper are of importance in guiding the reasonable application area of ROTI and developing a high-latitude ionospheric scintillation model based on geodetic receivers.
The application of GPS in bridge monitoring aims to determine accurately and precisely the response of the deck and towers of the bridge and estimate the main response characteristics (amplitude and modal frequencies). The main requirement of GPS monitoring is a high level of accuracy and availability of fixed solutions, which ensure the reliable operation of GPS and result in the precise estimation of the bridge's response. However, the derived GPS time series of bridge monitoring can be contaminated by noise, due to the performance of the GPS satellite(s), the geometry of the GPS satellite constellation and the potential obstructions due to the bridge elements, which can even lead to GPS solution of poor accuracy and/or precision and result in reduced efficiency of the performance of the GPS monitoring. This study investigates the potential contribution of other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) constellations for a more robust and reliable displacement time series solution, derived from multi-GNSS records. More specifically, a novel method is developed to derive the optimal combination of GNSS records to determine the GNSS displacement time series based on checks of parameters which reflect the geometry of the satellite constellation and the quality of the GNSS satellites signals. The method is applied in monitoring of the Severn Suspension Bridge, in the United Kingdom, and it is revealed the enhancement in the GNSS monitoring performance of the bridge response for specific time intervals for various locations on the bridge's support towers, suspension cables and deck.
Capsule In breeding Great Skuas Stercorarius skua on Skúvoy, Faroe Islands, central tail feather elongation was longer in males than females and was related to head size, laying date, egg volume, diet composition and, only in males, the tendency to incubate the clutch. Aims Sexual ornaments, such as elongated tail feathers, allow birds to attract conspecifics of the opposite sex. In skuas, the smaller species have clearly elongated central tail feathers, while in the larger species, the elongation is marginal. We evaluate here if the modest elongation of the central tail feathers in Great Skuas is associated with ecological factors and thus could still function as a social signal. Methods We caught 47 breeding Great Skuas on their nests on Skúvoy, Faroe Islands in 2013, measured their central tail feathers, other biometrics and reproductive success. Results Central tail feathers were more elongated in males (mean 15.2 mm, n = 20) than females (11.3 mm, n = 27). This sexual dimorphism persisted when corrected for body size, as males were smaller than females. In both sexes, longer tail feather elongation was associated with a shorter head, an earlier laying date, and a higher bird-based proportion in the pair’s diet, while no spatial patterns were found. Moreover, during our catching attempts, males with a longer tail feather elongation were quicker back at the nest to incubate the clutch. Egg volume, but not chick body condition, increased with parent tail feather elongation. In a model including laying date, head size, and diet, only laying date persisted as a significant predictor of the tail feather elongation, as earlier laying birds had shorter heads and ate more birds. Conclusion We argue that the modest tail feather elongation in Great Skuas may signal individual quality for both sexes, and in males specifically also the nest attentiveness, even though this trait may seem ecologically irrelevant at first glance.
GPS and more recently multi-GNSS carrier phase measurements have been used to measure the dynamic displacements of large structures, such as long-span bridges, in both the time and frequency domains. Such measurements can be used as part of a structural health monitoring system. Additionally, fibre optic-based systems have been used to measure long-term deformations of structures, such as tunnels and roads. The research presented in this paper brings together the ideas and technologies in the two aforementioned areas of research, resulting in dynamic displacement measurements of the hull of a ship at high frequencies, and indoor environments. Field trials using kinematic GPS and FBG sensors on the 138-m long Smyril passenger and vehicle ferry operating in the North Atlantic Ocean on the Faroe Islands are presented. FBG sensors were in the bow and engine room of the ship, gathering data at 1 kHz. The configuration of the surveys and the results from the FBG and GPS sensors are presented, in both the time and frequency domains. Various frequencies were measured, due to the movements of the ship in the ocean as well as the vibrations caused through the ship mainly due to the engine. One dominant frequency was of 12.25 Hz, measured at all the FBG locations, due to the engines’ operating speed of 735 RPM. Common frequencies were evident for both the FBG and GPS results for lower frequency displacement, caused by the movements in the sea. Such measurements could be used to monitor the long-term displacement characteristics and changes, in both the time and frequency domains, and used to help understand the health characteristics of the ship. Further, such measurements could be used to analyse the noise characteristics of the ship for both operational and environmental reasons.
Plastic pollution in the oceans is a priority environmental issue. The recent increase in research on the topic, coupled with growing public awareness, has catalyzed policymakers around the world to identify and implement solutions that minimize the harm caused by plastic pollution. To aid and coordinate these efforts, we surveyed experts with scientific experience identified through their peer-reviewed publications. We asked experts about the most pressing research questions relating to how biota interact with plastic pollution that in turn can inform policy decisions and research agendas to best contribute to understanding and reducing the harm of plastic pollution to biota. We used a modified Horizon Scan method that first used a subgroup of experts to generate 46 research questions on aquatic biota and plastics, and then conducted an online survey of researchers globally to prioritize questions in terms of their importance to inform policy development. One hundred and fifteen experts from 29 countries ranked research questions in six themes. The questions were ranked by urgency, indicating which research should be addressed immediately, which can be addressed later, and which are of limited relevance to inform action on plastics as an environmental pollutant. We found that questions relating to the following four themes were the most commonly top-ranked research priorities: (i) sources, circulation and distribution of plastics, (ii) type of harm from plastics, (iii) detection of ingested plastics and the associated problems, and (iv) related economies and policy to ingested plastics. While there are many research questions on the topic of impacts of plastic pollution on biota that could be funded and investigated, our results focus collective priorities in terms of research that experts believe will inform effective policy and on-the-ground conservation.
Ionospheric scintillation causes noise in GNSS measurements and hence affects the resulting coordinates or even the ability to track data. We investigate the characteristics of GNSS scintillation during a visible aurora borealis event over the Faroe Islands during October 7, 2018, which lasted for around 30 min. Data of 1 Hz rate from a typical geodetic GNSS receiver are analyzed during a 3-h window around the event, as well as during the same period the days before and after. Data from all four GNSS are analyzed, which consist of 31 satellites during the occurrence, resulting in a good overview of the temporal distribution of the scintillation. Two approaches are used, called the time difference code-minus-carrier and the time difference phase ionospheric residual. The results illustrate that there is little effect on the code measurements, but significant repercussion on the carrier phase observables, resulting in erroneous position solutions. The approaches we present can be used in GNSS processing software to detect scintillation noise in real time on individual satellites, allowing such noisy data to be rejected.
The Faroe Islands complex consists of 18 islands. The total energy demand is based on imported oil (93%). Electricity needs account for around 10% of the total energy consumption, with 51% covered from wind and hydro in 2016. Annual average wind velocities above 10 m/s and annual rainfalls higher than 3000 mm are measured in several sites. The annual incident solar irradiation on horizontal plane is around 780 kWh/m². Wind and rain tend to be less in summer, posing a challenge for 100% energy needs cover. This article investigates the perspectives for 100% Renewable Energy Sources (RES) penetration in Faroe, including heating and transportation energy consumptions. Two wind/photovoltaic parks and Pumped Hydro Storage (PHS) systems are investigated for two autonomous systems, the main grid comprising 11 interconnected islands and the autonomous island of Suðuroy, accounting for 10% of the population. Wind potential maps are developed and the PHSs are sited on digitized land terrain. The systems' operation is numerically simulated, aiming at the optimization of the dimensioning. Real demand and RES data are employed. It is shown that RES annual penetration higher than 90% can be approached with RES – storage power plants absolutely technically and economically feasible.
More than 1000 time-series of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Arctic biota from marine and freshwater ecosystems some extending back to the beginning of 1980s were analyzed using a robust statistical method. The Arctic area encompassed extended from Alaska, USA in the west to northern Scandinavian in the east, with data gaps for Arctic Russia and Arctic Finland. The aim was to investigate whether temporal trends for different animal groups and matrices were consistent across a larger geographical area. In general, legacy POPs showed decreasing concentrations over the last two to three decades, which were most pronounced for α-HCH and least pronounced for HCB and β-HCH. Few time-series of legacy POPs showed increasing trends and only at sites suspected to be influenced by local source. The brominated flame retardant congener BDE-47 showed a typical trend of increasing concentration up to approximately the mid-2000s followed by a decreasing concentration. A similar trend was found for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). These trends are likely related to the relatively recent introduction of national and international controls of hexa- and hepta-BDE congeners and the voluntary phase-out of PFOS production in the USA in 2000. Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) was the only compound in this study showing a consistent increasing trend. Only 12% of the long-term time-series were able to detect a 5% annual change with a statistical power of 80% at α < 0.05. The remaining 88% of time-series need additional years of data collection before fulfilling these statistical requirements. In the case of the organochlorine long-term time-series, 45% of these would require >20 years monitoring before this requirement would be fulfilled.
Faroe Island pilot whales have been documented to have high body burdens of organohalogen contaminants (OHCs), including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), but low burdens of their respective hydroxylated metabolites (OH-PCBs and OH-PBDEs). The present study investigated the hepatic expression and/or catalytic activities of phase I and II biotransformation enzymes in relation to hepatic concentrations of target OHCs, including OH-PCBs and OH-PBDEs, in long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) from the Northeastern Atlantic. CYP1A, 2B, 2E and 3A protein expressions were identified in juveniles and adult males, but not in adult females. Ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity was significantly lower in adult females than in juveniles and adult males. Using multivariate analyses to investigate relationships between biological responses and OHC concentrations, a positive relationship was identified between EROD and OHCs. The activity levels of phase II conjugating enzymes (uridine 5'-diphospho-glucuronosyltransferase [UDPGT], and glutathione S-transferase [GST]) were low. The analyses of mRNA expression did not show correlative relationships with OHC concentrations, but cyp1a and ahr transcripts were positively correlated with EROD activity. We suggest that the low concentrations of OH-PCBs and OH-PBDEs reported in pilot whales is probably due to the identified low phase I biotransformation activities in the species.
Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are persistent, bioaccumulative anthropogenic compounds associated with adverse health impacts on humans and wildlife. PFAS production changed in North America and Europe around the year 2000, but impacts on wildlife appear to vary across species and location. Unlike other mammal species, cetaceans lack the enzyme for transforming an important intermediate precursor (perfluorooctane sulfonamide: FOSA), into a prevalent compound in most wildlife (perfluorooctanesulfonate: PFOS). Thus, their tissue burden differentiates these two compounds while other mammals contain PFOS from both direct exposure and precursor degradation. Here we report temporal trends in 15 PFASs measured in muscle from juvenile male North Atlantic pilot whales (Globicephala melas) harvested between 1986 and 2013. FOSA accounted for a peak of 84% of the 15 PFASs around 2000 but declined to 34% in recent years. PFOS and long-chained PFCAs (C9-C13) increased significantly over the whole period (2.8% yr(-1) to 8.3% yr(-1)), but FOSA declined by 13% yr(-1) after 2006. Results from FOSA partitioning and bioaccumulation modeling forced by changes in atmospheric inputs reasonably capture magnitudes and temporal patterns in FOSA concentrations measured in pilot whales. Rapid changes in atmospheric FOSA in polar and subpolar regions around 2000 helps to explain large declines in PFOS exposure for species that metabolize FOSA, including seafood consuming human populations. This work reinforces the importance of accounting for biological exposures to PFAS precursors.
To monitor environmental pollutants in Faroese biota, samples from a top predator were analysed and put into a spatial and temporal context. Analysis of 20 Great Skua eggs sampled in 2012 from the Faroe Islands showed >70 % lower concentrations of legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) than in samples analysed in 1977. The 2012 Faroese eggs showed higher concentrations than for eggs in Shetland from about the same period (2008). Eggshells were analysed for sub-lethal effects but there were no detectable effects of legacy POP levels on eggshell colour or thickness. A temporal decline in legacy POPs would indicate a reduction in the general pollutant levels present in the environment as has been shown in other areas of the North Atlantic, but there are significant geographic differences in POPs levels likely due to differences in diet resulting in significantly different exposures on a relatively limited spatial scale.
Pilot whales (Globicephala melas) from the Faroe Islands, North-East Atlantic, have high body concentrations of organohalogenated compounds (OHCs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorinated pesticides (OCPs) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). The aim of the present study was to examine if and to what extent blood plasma and liver concentrations of several groups of these OHCs are related to concentrations of relevant nutritional and hormonal biomarkers in pilot whales. Thyroid hormones (THs: total and free thyroxine and total and free triiodothyronine) and vitamin A (retinol), D (25-hydroxyvitamin D3) and E (α-tocopherol) were analysed in plasma (n=27) and vitamin A (total vitamin A, retinol and retinyl palmitate) and E (α- and γ-tocopherol) were analysed in liver (n=37) of Faroe Island pilot whales. Correlative relationships between the biomarkers and OHC concentrations previously analysed in the same tissues in these individuals were studied. The TH concentrations in plasma were significantly higher in juveniles than in adults. Vitamin D concentrations in plasma and α- and γ-tocopherol in liver were higher in adults than in juveniles. Multivariate statistical modelling showed that the age and sex influenced the relationship between biomarkers and OHCs. Some significant positive relationships were found between OHCs and thyroid hormone concentrations in the youngest juveniles (p<0.05). In plasma of juvenile whales α-tocopherol was also positively correlated with all the OHCs (p<0.05). Only few significant correlations were found between single OHCs and retinol and vitamin D in plasma within the age groups. There were significant negative relationships between hepatic PBDE concentrations and retinol (BDE-47) and γ-tocopherol (BDE-49, -47, -100, -99, -153) in liver. The relationships between OHCs and THs or vitamins suggest that in pilot whales OHCs seem to have minor effects on TH and vitamin concentrations.
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10 members
Gethin Wyn Roberts
  • land- og sjókort
Tróndur G. Leivsson
  • Dept. of Woodlands, Landscape and Recreation
Argir, Faroe Islands
Head of institution
Sigurð í Jákupsstovu
+298 342400