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Review and revision of the empirical critical loads for Europe

After more than two years, the joint scientific activity coordinated by the Coordination Center for Effects (CCE) to review and revise the empirical critical loads has been completed. The report can be downloaded here [Review and Revision of Empirical Critical Loads].

The ICP Modeling and Mapping (ICP M&M) and its members agreed to the scientific content that resulted in the updated empirical critical load values for nitrogen at their May 2022 online meeting. The ICP M&M asked the WGE at its annual meeting (8th joint WGE/EMEP meeting, September 12-16, 2022) to take note of the report and the updated empirical critical load values for nitrogen. The WGE accepted this request and acknowledged the report and project results. Following this formal acknowledgement, the ICP M&M Task Force recommends the use of the report and updated values in the effects-oriented work.

The report describes the scientific background and results of the review and revision of the empirical critical loads of nitrogen established for Europe in 2011 under the umbrella of the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention). In 2020, the CCE launched a project embedded in the framework of the LRTAP Convention to update the empirical critical loads. New relevant information from studies (2010 - summer 2021) on the effects of nitrogen on natural and semi-natural ecosystems was incorporated into the existing European database on empirical critical loads of N (CLempN). In the current review and revision, gradient studies were used for the first time to assess and determine CLempN. CLempN were structured according to the updated European Nature Information System (EUNIS) classification. Consensus on the results was reached in a UNECE Expert Workshop on Empirical Critical Nitrogen Loadings (26-28 October 2021, Bern, Switzerland) organized by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the CCE and the B-WARE Research Center. The findings, presented in Table 1 of the Executive Summary, show that in many cases the outer ranges of empirical critical loads have been reduced. The resulting European database for 2021 includes both revised and newly defined ranges of values for CLempN for each EUNIS class. The results of this report are of significant importance for the protection of N-sensitive natural and semi-natural ecosystems across Europe. This knowledge will be used to support European policies to reduce air pollution.

New report available: Critical loads for eutrophication and acidification for European terrestrial ecosystems

The project aimed to improve the European background database used by the Coordination Centre for Effects (CCE) to calculate Critical Loads (CLs) for eutrophication and acidification for (semi-) natural European terrestrial ecosystems. The database is used when member countries do not provide their own CL data to the CCE. In this case, the missing country data are replaced by the results of the background database when the CCE produces European CL maps. This report describes the (a) underlying datasets; (b) derivation of the input data for the CL model; (c) R packages and scripts developed; and (c) verification of the results. These results feed into international and national policy advice, e.g., they are an important input to the Gothenburg Protocol Review currently underway in the year 2021.

We are pleased to announce that the report on the background database project has been published and can be downloaded here.



The CCE aims at establishing a more dynamic communication within the WGE, and especially with its NFCs. Togehter with the TF Modelling & Mapping and the Centre for Dynamic Modelling (CDM) we plan to publish a newsletter at least twice a year. Please, feel free to submit information relevant for the whole group so we can include it into our next newsletter.

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