IES scientists G. Janssens-Maenhout and M. Muntean are co-authors of the ‘Trends in Global CO2 Emissions – 2013 Report’, which reports a first sign of a slowdown in the annual increase in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2012. The report, the latest in an annual series produced jointly by the JRC and the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, was published on 31 October 2013.
The IPCC released the 'Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis – Summary for Policymakers' on 27 September 2013. This is a 20-page summary of an over 2,000-page document which describes the latest knowledge about the state and causes of global climate change, based on physical science evidence. It was prepared by 258 experts from around the world, including the IES. The Summary confirms that climate change is a reality and that the planet has been warming increasingly rapidly since the mid-20th century, and finds that it is “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century”.
An IES article on how pollination services are delivered at the European scale finds that the yield of crops that are pollinated by insects, such as bees, could fall by 25-32% if such pollination were no longer available. This finding gives further weight to the argument that biodiversity and ecosystem services are crucial to food security and human welfare, and must be protected.
While the first part of the 2013 fire season has been fairly mild, unusually hot weather brought severe fire episodes to the UK and Ireland in March-April, and some relatively large fires were observed in Greece in May. Significant fire activity in the Mediterranean countries started in July. During August, moderately mild conditions continued in most of the EU, with the exception of Portugal that has been severely affected by several fires larger than 1 000 ha, especially during the second half of the month.
An article authored by the IES shows that deforestation over the Congo Basin, the second largest area of rainforest after the Amazon, has slowed since 2000 compared with the previous decade, with net deforestation falling from an estimated 0.16% per year for the period 1990–2000 to 0.10% per year for the period 2000–2010.
In June 2013, severe flooding in Central and Eastern Europe, in particular Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, led to the Danube and the Elbe swelling to near 100-year highs. Up to 21 deaths were reported as a result of these floods, with thousands of residents being evacuated. Heavy rains in northern Spain and southwestern France towards the middle of June led to flash floods that killed three people, with hundreds evacuated from their homes. The IES contributed to the crisis management activities by monitoring and reporting on the current flood situation through the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS).
The European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) have published a new joint report on ‘Environment and Human Health’ that takes stock of the most pertinent environment and health issues prevailing today and their policy implications. Recognising the systemic challenges to ecosystem resilience and services, the EEA-JRC report makes the case for a more integrated take on health issues.
The European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, presented the JRC’s new Soil Atlas of Africa at the European Commission and African Union Commission College-to-College meeting in Addis Ababa on Friday 26 April. The Soil Atlas of Africa is the latest in a series of soil atlases produced by the JRC, which are essential references for a non-renewable resource that is fundamental for life on this planet.
IES Head of Unit Alan Belward attended the successful launch of NASA’s Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) on Monday, 11 February 2013, from the Vanderberg Air Force Base in California. LDCM is on course to reach a sun-synchronous polar orbit of 705 kilometres above Earth by April.
The European Commission has declared 2013 the “Year of Air”. Its objectives are to revise the EU Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution, raise awareness about air quality and pollution, encourage Member States to cooperate more efficiently and to launch more effective measures to improve air quality.
The 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was held in Doha, Qatar, from the 26th November to 7th December 2012, is generally deemed to have been a success in making progress towards and preparing the ground for the 2015 talks.
Water availability and quality to 2030 - Two new JRC assessments on the effects of combinations of measures on water availability and water quality to 2030 in support of the European Commission’s ‘Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources’, which was launched by DG Environment on 14/11/2012.
For the first time ever, a COP decision of the CBD refers to JRC activities. The decision, regarding Protected Areas (UNEP/CBD/COP/11/L.9), was taken at the COP11 of the CBD and explicitly mentions the analytical tools of the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA) and the BIOPAMA (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management in the ACP countries) project it supports.
On 14 September 2012, the JRC launched the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN). This network, the first of its kind in Europe, aims to improve access to data and information regarding alien species in Europe. EASIN is designed to assist policy makers and scientists in their efforts to tackle Alien (non-native) Species invasions. It allows users to explore information on the currently reported 16 000 alien species from over 40 distributed online resources through a network of interoperable web services, following internationally recognised standards and protocols.
Summer times are a-changin'… Europe experiences regional extremes
Europe has experienced regional extremes of floods, fires and droughts in 2012. In late April, temperatures reached all-time highs in central and Eastern Europe; temperatures climbed well above the seasonal norms, while Western Europe experienced weeks of heavy rain. Meanwhile, a hosepipe ban had been implemented in the UK until July, as groundwater levels had been at record low levels following a two-year drought.
In July 2012, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) launched their annual report 'Trends in global CO2 emissions', which found that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached an all-time high of almost 34 billion tonnes in 2011. In China, average emissions of CO2 increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes per capita, while in the European Union, they dropped by 3% to 7.5 tonnes per capita. At 17.3 tonnes per capita, the United States are still among the greatest emitters of CO2.
The INSPIRE Conference 2012 took place from Saturday 23rd – Wednesday 27th June 2012 at the Istanbul Congress Center (ICC) in Istanbul, Turkey. The theme of this year's event, which was co-organised by the JRC and the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, was "Sharing environmental information, sharing innovation".
Science for Water - JRC Thematic Report
On 22 May 2012, the JRC launched a new thematic report entitled ‘Science for Water’. This report aims to give a comprehensive overview of the work of the Commission's in-house science service, the JRC, in relation to global water challenges. In each of the six chapters, the detailed policy context is cited, showing clearly how and where the JRC is providing its scientific and technical support to water-related policies.
Geospatial technologies for harmonised environmental information
From 23-27 April, more than 3 500 participants will attend the Geospatial World Forum at the RAI Convention Centre, in Amsterdam (NL). The theme of the forum is “Geospatial Industry and World Economy”. It will address the utility of geospatial technologies in various industries that contribute to the world economy. Quick and easy access to data related to a variety of domains, including water management, disaster mitigation, statistics, public health, civil protection, agriculture and nature protection, will improve business opportunities and help reduce costs of public administrations. This will also translate into clear benefits for the citizen, ranging from improved emergency services to a healthier everyday environment.
Water at the interface of science and policy
With more than 25 000 participants, the 6th World Water Forum is the world's largest meeting about water. It is held every three years, with the current one being held in Marseille, France, from the 12 to 17 March. The World Water Forum addresses the challenges of sustainable development related to the water distribution. Its objective is to make water a high priority on all political agendas.
The Congo Basin – a role model for tropical forest management
The 'Forests of the Congo Basin - State of the Forest 2010' report was launched in Douala, Cameroon, at the Annual meeting of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) on 1st March, 2012. It provides a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the status of the forests in the Congo Basin. It also looks at deforestation patterns, points to trends in sustainable forest management and highlights threats to biodiversity. This was done to help decision-makers in Central Africa come up with information-based solutions for improved management of forests and natural resources.
The IES has released a JRC Reference Report entitled ‘The State of Soil in Europe’, which is published in collaboration with the European Environment Agency and DG Environment. The report provides a comprehensive overview of our present understanding of soil resources and degradation processes across Europe. It concludes that further research and improved data collection is needed to advance our knowledge of soil functions and provide the scientific base for policy makers. Coupled with steps to heighten public awareness of the importance of soil, the report will help people to better understand the need to protect this vital resource.
Study co-authored by the JRC on climate change mitigation published in Science
A scientific paper published on 13.02.2012 by Science shows that a limited number of air quality measures can substantially mitigate global warming and have significant benefits for human health and agriculture.