Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Britain's urban rivers cleanest in 20 years

02.06.2014

Largest ever study on climate change effects on rivers

Scientists from Cardiff University have found that Britain's urban rivers are the cleanest they've been in over two decades.

The 21-year study of over 2300 rivers measured the presence of clean-river invertebrates - a yardstick for river health – which during the days of heavy industry and poor sewage treatment had declined considerably, but now appear to be making a comeback.

Although climate change has warmed British rivers by around 1-2 degrees over recent decades, the findings suggest that improved pollution control has managed to offset its damaging effects on river ecosystems. This indicates that society can prevent some undesirable climate change effects on the environment by improving habitat quality.

Dr Ian Vaughan and Professor Steve Ormerod from the University's School of Biosciences analysed changes in the occurrence and spread of insects, snails and other mini-beasts from major rivers between 1991 and 2011. The researchers then asked whether water quality, temperature or river flow best explained the biological changes they observed.

Among 78 types of organisms examined, 40 have become more prevalent in English and Welsh rivers while 19 have declined. Overwhelmingly, these trends were explained by reductions in gross pollution rather than warming or changing flow caused by climate change.

Improving water quality has allowed some clean-water organisms from upland rivers to return to previously polluted lowland rivers, and may even explain some northwards movement previously attributed to climate-change.

The researchers believe these results to be very encouraging in showing how reductions in pollution can help offset climate change impacts. Dr Ian Vaughan said: "Our analysis showed clearly that many British river invertebrates are sensitive to climate - for example; because they require good supplies of oxygen that decline as rivers warm up. However, it seems that efforts over the last 2-3 decades to clean up pollution from sewage and other sources have allowed many of these sensitive organisms to expand their range despite 1-2 °C warming trends and several periods of drought."

Prof Steve Ormerod added: "These results reveal part of a larger pattern in which organisms dependent on cleaner waters, faster flows and high oxygen concentrations have been progressively recolonizing Britain's urban rivers: Atlantic salmon, mayflies, and Dippers are prime examples. We need to protect these and other river organisms against climate change effects – and solving other problems such as pollution clearly helps.

"Away from Britain's urban areas, some pollution problems are increasing, and our analysis shows some negative trends among sensitive organisms such as stoneflies that are typical for rural hill-streams. It's important that our efforts to protect Britain's rivers against pollution or climate change are extended to the farmed, rural, upland landscape."

###

The data were supplied by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.

The full study can be found in the journal, Global Change Biology and can be found at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12616/abstract;jsessionid=8F929FE1E3157FD6E15B692B2D7E93B8.f04t01?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

Steve Ormerod | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Biosciences Improving effects mayflies progressively sensitive sewage snails

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Hunting pressure on forest animals in Africa is on the increase
09.02.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought
05.02.2016 | University of Southampton

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New study: How stable is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?

Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels

A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...

Im Focus: Superconductivity: footballs with no resistance

Indications of light-induced lossless electricity transmission in fullerenes contribute to the search for superconducting materials for practical applications.

Superconductors have long been confined to niche applications, due to the fact that the highest temperature at which even the best of these materials becomes...

Im Focus: Wbp2 is a novel deafness gene

Researchers at King’s College London and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom have for the first time demonstrated a direct link between the Wbp2 gene and progressive hearing loss. The scientists report that the loss of Wbp2 expression leads to progressive high-frequency hearing loss in mouse as well as in two clinical cases of children with deafness with no other obvious features. The results are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

The scientists have shown that hearing impairment is linked to hormonal signalling rather than to hair cell degeneration. Wbp2 is known as a transcriptional...

Im Focus: From allergens to anodes: Pollen derived battery electrodes

Pollens, the bane of allergy sufferers, could represent a boon for battery makers: Recent research has suggested their potential use as anodes in lithium-ion batteries.

"Our findings have demonstrated that renewable pollens could produce carbon architectures for anode applications in energy storage devices," said Vilas Pol, an...

Im Focus: Automated driving: Steering without limits

OmniSteer project to increase automobiles’ urban maneuverability begins with a € 3.4 million budget

Automobiles increase the mobility of their users. However, their maneuverability is pushed to the limit by cramped inner city conditions. Those who need to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Travel grants available: Meet the world’s most proficient mathematicians and computer scientists

09.02.2016 | Event News

AKL’16: Experience Laser Technology Live in Europe´s Largest Laser Application Center!

02.02.2016 | Event News

From intelligent knee braces to anti-theft backpacks

26.01.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Travel grants available: Meet the world’s most proficient mathematicians and computer scientists

09.02.2016 | Event News

Body temperature triggers newly developed polymer to change shape

09.02.2016 | Materials Sciences

Using renewable energy in heating networks more efficiently

09.02.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>