An Atlas of pan-European data for investigating the fate of agrochemicals in terrestrial ecosystems


Courtesy of

In 2000, with the enforcement of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC the European Commission established a framework for the protection of surface, subsurface and coastal waters. The WFD requires Member States to implement all necessary measures to prevent deterioration of the status of surface water bodies, and to protect and enhance the status of surface water bodies. This will also be achieved by compliance with previous directives to reduce nutrient pollution generated by agricultural activities and waste water discharges, most notably the Nitrate Directive (91/676/EEC) and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC). The implementation of the WFD requires the development of River Basin Management Plans and includes the analysis of the current state of nutrient pressure and the impact of human activities on river basin water quality. Within the fi eld of nutrient pollution, the research community is closely involved in the WFD implementation process, being expected to provide the understanding of nutrient sources and loss pathways, analysis of the current state and for future scenarios and the development of effi cient pollution control measures.

The FATE (Fate of Agrochemicals in Terrestrial Ecosystems) research programme, carried out in the Rural, Water and Ecosystem Resources Unit (RWER) of the Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IES) within the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), aims to respond to the challenges introduced by European environmental legislation concerning the problem of nutrients in the environment (Figure 1) through a tiered modelling approach (Bouraoui et al., 2005). The main concept of the FATE project is that the processes responsible for the fate of nutrients are studied at the most appropriate scale, making best use of readily available data at the European scale. Therefore, the choice of appropriate models depends on the objectives of the study, the spatial and temporal scale of the problem, the processes to be investigated at that scale, and the data availability.

The FATE modelling approach is structured in three tiers:

1. The statistical model GREEN (Grizzetti, 2006) for the European scale, used as a screening tool to identify catchments with high nutrient losses that can cause a threat to water bodies;
2. The semi-distributed physically-based SWAT model (Arnold et al., 1998) used to understand within those areas, the major processes and pathways determining the nutrient losses;
3. The farm-scale model EPIC (Williams, 1995) used to elaborate appropriate farming practices that could reduce pollution load without endangering the farm economic sustainability, and the DNDC model (Li et al., 1992) used to evaluate the impact of farming practices on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As the implementation of modelling tools is highly dependent on data availability, the fi rst part of the FATE project was dedicated to the compilation and harmonisation of a pan-European database. The FATE database was built with the specifi c objective of implementing the tiered modelling approach; therefore the scale and type of information provided were dictated by the models requirements.

The FATE database includes information concerning environmental characteristics and both anthropogenic and background pressures. To guarantee the validity of the information, the data were gathered from
European Commission sources including institutes within the JRC, EUROSTAT (the Statistical Offi ce of the European Communities) and several other research programmes such as EMEP (Co-operative Programme for the Monitoring and Evaluation of the Long-Range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe, EMEP) and CAPRI (Common Agricultural Policy Regional Impact Analysis).

Moreover, specifi c methodologies were developed in the FATE project for estimating the nutrient input from point and diffuse sources at the European scale.

These layers of information already constitute an important outcome from the FATE research programme, being one of the fi rst assessments of nitrogen and phosphorus originating from agriculture, waste water treatment plants, industries, and atmospheric deposition throughout Europe.

The FATE database represents a unique source of harmonised data and estimations at the European scale and constitutes the basis for the FATE tiered modelling approach.

This report describes the information included in the FATE database. It gives an overview of the data available for use within the FATE project, while further explanations for the original source of collected data and for the methodologies used for data development are given in accompanying documents.

In the report, fi rstly the data requirements for the different approaches used in the FATE project are described, then the data and their original sources or estimation methods are presented and fi nally Pan-European maps of environmental characteristics and nutrient inputs are provided.

The results of the study of nutrient losses at the European scale (FATE modelling tier1) and the application of the entire FATE modelling approach are described in successive reports (Grizzetti and Bouraoui, 2006; Bouraoui et al., 2006).

Customer comments

No comments were found for An Atlas of pan-European data for investigating the fate of agrochemicals in terrestrial ecosystems. Be the first to comment!