Currently most freshwater systems in Europe are threatened by a variety of stressors (emerging and priority pollutants, inorganic species, nanomaterials, microplastics, geomorphological alterations, changes in land uses, climate variability and change, water abstraction, invasive species and pathogens). MARS, GLOBAQUA and SOLUTIONS cover most of all the stressors affecting the aquatic ecosystem, in a different but complementary way. Draught is a key stressor under GLOBAQUA project and is a threat on biodiversity, environmental quality, agriculture and energy production. Case studies cover six European river basins, three of them affected with severe draught. MARS is focused on the combination of multiple stressors like nutrients, temperature, ecological status and ecosystem services on a broad and comprehensive range of European case studies. SOLUTIONS performs a reconnaissance study on emerging contaminants in a very large river basin such as the Danube by using effect direct assay approaches.

These three projects are now working together in different initiatives, like common workshops, common special issues, newsletters and policy briefs in order to deliver a unique and integrated message to the European Union and to the society. Many examples on stressors are being reported such as water scarcity that has implications for hydrologic connectivity, negative side-effects on biodiversity, water quality, and river ecosystem functioning. No doubt that most of the European river basins will be affected by climate change. This will amplify interactions between stressors. For instance, warmer temperatures and reduced river flows will likely increase the physiological burden of pollution on the aquatic biota, and biological feedback between stressors (e.g. climate change and nutrient and chemical pollution). The effects of these stressors are very relevant for the chemical and ecological status of water bodies as well as for the sustainability of ecosystem services they provide.

The workshop was held in Sesimbra (Portugal) on 16-17th of March 2017 and was organised by MARS, GLOBAQUA with the collaboration of SOLUTIONS with the final objective to address common products between these projects.

The workshop was structured in seven parts where researchers from the different projects presented their findings together. The first session presented findings of analyses on the impacts of multiple stressors on river basins across Europe. The second reported the ecological effects of multiple stressors across ecosystem types (rivers, lakes and transitional waters), and across spatial scales (laboratory, mesocosm and flume experiments; individual water bodies and river basins and Europe-wide). In the third session, the potentials and pitfalls of downscaling climate and socio-economic scenarios of the future at the river basin scale were discussed. The fourth session involved a discussion of how to link chemical and ecological status. The ‘good status’ of European water bodies according to Water Framework Directive requirements depends on them fulfilling both good ‘ecological’ and ‘chemical’ status. However, the complex interactions between different pressures makes untangling their joint impacts on ecosystem status challenging. In the fifth session, participants discussed approaches taken in the three projects to model the interactions of multiple pressures driving the status of European water bodies. In this session, particular focus was placed on hydrological pressures and chemicals interacting with other stressors, as well as the regional variability of interactions. The sixth session focused on the science-policy dialogues and impacts and on how to translate the projects’ scientific results into recommendations for improving the European regulatory frameworks on freshwater, with particular emphasis on the Water Framework Directive. Wider public, policy and academic communication of results was the topic of the final session, with a specific focus on how the databases, scientific reports and papers, policy-briefs and water management tools produced by the projects might be best presented to different audiences. The workshop was deemed a real success by all who took part, as it sparked many new discussions and opportunities for collaboration between the three projects.

Flyer of the event

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