Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


MODELKEY - The key to clean surface waters


Analysing and evaluating chemical pollution – that is the goal of the new European large-scale project MODELKEY, starting in February. Under the management of the Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Germany (UFZ) researchers in 13 countries will be developing methods to identify so-called key chemicals and their effect on the water ecosystem until the year 2010. Three model rivers will be researched from their source to the mouth: River Elbe (Czech Republic/ Germany), River Schelde (Belgium/ The Netherlands), and River Llobregat (Spain). These three rivers are situated in different climate regions and all suffer from industrial pollution. The findings will later be passed on to all EU member states. The project, involving a total of 25 different research institutions, is subsidised with 8.4 million Euro by the EU. The name of the project, MODELKEY, stands for Models for Assessing and Forecasting the Impact of Environmental Key Pollutants on Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems and Biodiversity. The kick-off for MODELKEY will take place from 28th February to 5th March in Spain.


The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) has committed all states to see that their surface waters are in good chemical and ecological condition by the year 2015. The goal of the guidelines is to create common standards for surface and groundwater. In this way pollution should be stemmed and the condition of the ecosystem improved in order to protect the water resources in the long-term. The Water Framework Directive has divided the ecological water quality into five grades from bad to very good. By 2015 all surface waters should be of at least grade II (good status). In particular many ecosystems in industrialised regions of Europe have not reached the “good” status. Although the chemical parameters in Germany more or less fulfil the requirements, the Ministry of the Environment sees large deficits in the biological parameters. The job of the MODELKEY project is to find the causes of these problems and develop solutions for them.

Even though the EU has made a priority list of 30 chemicals which are monitored already, the scientists see a need for a much greater field of research. “When you think that there are thousands of different chemical combinations in the environment then it is clear: The current grid is just too wide,” explains Werner Brack from UFZ. “That is why we are trying to combine biological and chemical processes as well as different model techniques so that the spectrum on possible problems can be narrowed down step by step, and to finally identify every connection that really is responsible for harmful effects.” The complete ecosystem will be considered. Do changes to an individual organism affect the whole ecosystem? What does it mean for the ecosystem, when for example a particular fish stops reproducing? These are complex questions which have to be answered by 2010.

The preparation of the long-term project alone took two years. Partners had to be found and a structure had to be created. Michaela Hein and Mechthild Schmitt coordinate seven sub-projects and over 150 researchers under the lead of Werner Brack. “We have to develop new innovative techniques in all fields,” Brack paraphrases the coming project. “The challenge is to combine different scientific roots.”

The international research team does not just want to find these key pollutants and explain their effect. The huge volume of data from the surface water control programme from the EU member states are to be put to use. “At the moment the data are stored in different databases in various formats and are therefore extremely difficult to handle. That is why we want to create a central database – working closely with the ministries who today collect data and who will later have to implement the EU Water Framework Directive.” Finally a computer model is to be developed which will offer support to the water authorities in the whole EU when decisions must be made about which area should be decontaminated and how it can be done most effectively. One thing is clear: The EU Water Framework Directive means a lot of extra work for the individual member countries.

Tilo Arnhold

Doris Boehme | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica

26.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>