Freshwater ecosystems, already under stress from land-use change and pollution, now face additional pressures from climate change, directly and through interaction with other drivers.
This combination of factors could have an increased impact on Europe’s freshwater resource, which could locally decrease at a fast rate. Other phenomenons, like floods, also have to be considered as possible consequences.
Eurolimpacs is concerned with the science required to understand and manage the ecological consequences of these interactions. It is relevant to the EU Water Framework Directive and other international directives and protocols and supports the EU's Charter on Sustainable Development.
The Project brings together a consortium of leading European scientists who aim to integrate river, lake and wetland ecosystem science at the catchment scale. It focuses on the key drivers of aquatic ecosystem change (land-use, nutrients, acid deposition and toxic substances) and examines their interactions with global, especially climate, change using time-series analysis, space-for-time substitution, palaeolimnology, experiments and process modelling.
It considers these interactions at 3 critical time-scales: (i) hours/days, concerned with changes in the magnitude and frequency of extreme events, like floods; (ii) seasons, concerned with changes in ecosystem function and life-cycle strategies of freshwater biota; (iii) years/decades, concerned with ecological response to environmental pressure, including stress reduction and ecosystem recovery.
The project aims at gathering information over all the European spectrum, from Northern European to Mediterranean, in order to set up a database which integrates all types of European freshwater ecosystems.
In Greece, the Eurolimpacs test site is lake Chemaditida’s catchment. This site is very suitable because data from the past is available from previous research programs. Palaeolimnologic data for example, i.e. looking at the evolution of plant populations in the past, gives precious information on how climatic change could influence the system in the future. Furthermore, human activity has a strong impact on this ecosystem, and local socioeconomics, namely agriculture and fishing, strongly depend on the lake’s condition. Lastly, the open water surface has dramatically decreased within the last 25 years to the benefit of a thick reed bed, which could lead to a complete disappearing of the lake within a short period of time.
For this site as for the other European test sites, field work has first consisted in gathering information about water chemistry, hydrology, plant populations and their evolutions, socioeconomics, etc…
This data has then been processed by the Greek biotope and wetland center’s (EKBY) scientific staff, and integrated into Eurolimpacs’ mathematic models. Hydrology represents an important part of the modelling work, as it may help giving an overview on future freshwater quantities available. This is why hydrological measurements from all European test sites have been used by Eurolimpacs’ hydrologists and mathematicians to set up a model. Comparing the results of this model to real time measurements gives a good evaluation of its accuracy.
Eventually, an innovative toolkit for integrated catchment analysis and modelling will be developed to simulate hydrological, hydro-chemical and ecological processes at the catchment scale for use in assessing the potential impact of global change under different climate and socio-economic scenarios. This toolkit will be accessible to managers, decision makers and local stakeholders, to help them manage Europe’s freshwaters in a more sustainable way.
Eventually, an innovative toolkit for integrated catchment analysis and modelling will be developed to simulate hydrological, hydrochemical and ecological processes at the catchment scale for use in assessing the potential impact of global change under different climate and socio-economic scenarios. This toolkit will be accessible to managers, decision makers and local stakeholders, to help them manage Europe’s freshwaters in a more sustainable way.
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