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Introducing GLOBAQUA

August 19, 2014

Continuing our series of video interviews with project members, this week we feature Damià Barceló, Director of the Catalan Institute for Water Research in Girona, Spain.  Damià leads the Globaqua project which – like MARS – studies the impacts – and interrelationships – of multiple stressors on our rivers and lakes.  Unlike MARS, Globaqua is particularly concerned with understanding the effects of water scarcity and chemical contaminants such as pesticides on freshwater ecosystems.

Water scarcity is particularly important in Europe, partly because historically it has not been recognised by the Water Framework Directive, and partly because many rivers are temporary and do not flow year round from source tosea, especially in southern regions of the continent (see our blog on the topic).  It is still only partially understand how freshwater ecosystems respond when exposed to water scarcity.

Similarly, chemical contaminants can have adverse effects on freshwater ecosystems.   For example, in previous studies, Barceló’s research has documented how high levels of beta blocker pharmaceutical drugs in freshwaters caused daphnia to grow quickly to sizes much larger than on other parts of the river.

Globaqua will study the impact of global change on six river basins in Europe and North Africa: Ebro (Spain), Evrotas (Greece), Sava (a tributary of the Danube that flows through eastern Europe), Adige (in the northeast of Italy), Anglian (in the UK), and the Souss Massa (in Morocco).   The different environmental and socioeconomic characteristics of each basin will be assessed, and different climate change scenarios will be modelled to forecast ecosystem service provision and the impact and interaction of multiple stressors for each basin in the future (e.g. under flood vs under drought).

In conjunction with MARS, Globaqua will help model scenarios of stress on freshwaters to help understand how ecosystems might react to different stressor levels and interactions.  This work will go towards revising and strengthening EU water policies, particularly River Basin Management plans as part of the Water Framework Directive.  In this interview, Damià emphasises the diversity of river ecosystems across Europe, and argues that a revision of the Water Framework Directive (due by 2019), should embrace this complexity to produce different management plans for each river.

We’ll continue to follow the Globaqua project as it develops, and report back on its findings.


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