News from within the SENSE network
A fundamental assumption for the scientific prediction of air quality needs to be adjusted. This follows from the analysis of long-term measurements in the urban area of Inssbruck, Austria. Near-Earth air there contained up to 50 per cent less ozone than predicted values. According to Wageningen scientists who contributed to the study lead by Prof. Thomas Karl (University of Innsbruck, Austria), this is related to high nitrogen monoxide levels in the area, emitted by diesel engines. The study's conclusion may have an impact on future air quality policy.
Many sea turtles live their adult lives in predator-free environments due to overfishing of their main predator, the tiger shark. Because of this, it is largely unknown how sharks impact turtle grazing behaviour. Wageningen researchers have discovered how turtles change their grazing behaviour when they feel safe, and as a result increase their grazing pressure on seagrass meadows.
“It's time to work towards an EU level playing field for climate risks.” On Friday 9 December, scientists and professionals from the financial sector came together in a Science Practice Lab. The common goal was to work towards a standardized European approach for climate risks in the real estate sector. During this session, financial parties shared their experiences and challenges with reporting physical climate risk and scientists discussed the latest knowledge on climate risk assessments.
Many climate and biodiversity goals start as a fantasy, a wish. A group of ecologists, for example, launched the slogan: Nature Needs Half. Meaning that if nature conservation is applied to half of the earth, biodiversity will be able to recover. At the Biodiversity Summit in Canada, the EU proposes to protect 30% of the planet. ‘These percentages are not substantiated’, says Jelle Behagel, a Forest and Nature Conservation researcher of Wageningen University. ‘We have no idea whether nature will recover if we implement the 50 or 30 per cent conservation wish. These are political fantasies.’
The EU, and thus the Dutch delegation, aims to achieve concrete agreements on more nature reserves at a global level, at the Biodiversity Summit (COP15) in Canada. Thus, it hopes to halt biodiversity loss. The goal is to have 30% of the earth marked as a nature reserve by 2030. In short: 30 by 30. What does that mean? WUR researcher Jelle Behagel, one of the participants in the Biodiversity Summit, explains.
Inge de Graaf’s research focuses on the current and future projected impacts of human water use on freshwater resources worldwide. She has become a leading expert in large-scale groundwater modelling by developing one of the first global-scale groundwater models and by connecting, at that scale, groundwater dynamics to streamflow. As a major scientific outcome, she demonstrated the impact of groundwater pumping on environmentally critical streamflow and the alarming trends that will evolve if we do not change our current groundwater use.
Climate change severely impacts farmers in developing countries, and the consequences for our food supply are increasingly felt. This issue features prominently on the agenda of the climate summit in Egypt from 6 to 18 November. Waterapps is a long-term weather app developed by WUR, which helps farmers adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
Can minerals help extract the greenhouse gas CO2 from the air? PhD student Emily te Pas (WUR) is investigating the potential of spreading crushed silicate minerals on agricultural land. ‘This is still pioneering at this stage. It is important to collect data: does it work and is it safe?’’
It has long been known that humanity is exceeding planetary boundaries for nitrogen use. Scientists have now mapped those exceedances regionally for the first time. Whereas countries in north-western Europe and parts of India and China are emitting far too much nitrogen, there is actually room for intensification of nitrogen use across much of Africa and South America. The research was published today in the scientific journal Nature.