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Key challenges facing Europe are the need to protect the environment and safeguard our quality of life, whilst ensuring sustainable economic growth within demanding environmental legislation. Managing and protecting the environment requires robust and reliable data to assess and monitor environmental parameters whether for assessing climate change or pollution emission trends.
Scientists studying climate change base their findings on data gathered from satellite borne instruments, and terrestrial networks for monitoring air quality. National and international agencies rely on this data to ensure that environment treaties and regulations are both well-designed and enforced effectively. Carbon accounting schemes and other regulatory measures for safeguarding the environment also require reliable data based on accurate measurements of pollutants potentially present in the environment at part per billion levels.
The environmental research projects funded under the EURAMET research programmes, EMRP and EMPIR, have brought together research groups from metrology institutes, academia, and industry to work collaboratively. These address some of the measurement challenges associated with the better quantification of parameters that affect climate change and the measurement of emissions hazardous to our quality of life. The EMRP projects have been completed, and highlights are available here. The EMPIR environment theme projects are in progress and will be completed in 2023.
45 metrology research groups came together with academia, industry and public environment agencies to conduct research under the first call of the EMRP Environment theme. These nine projects aimed to improve data quality and stimulate the development of innovative technologies, to support an improved quality of life for European citizens.
The research focused on two areas: increasing our understanding and assessment of climate change; and ensuring a safe, clean environment.
Understanding climate change
Metrology has a critical role to play in understanding, modelling and monitoring climate change. European policies aimed at mitigating anthropogenic climate change and implementing adaptation measures need to be based upon sound science and accurate data. Robust data on the atmosphere, oceans and land, as well as solar and terrestrial radiation, is essential for climate change assessments and effective policymaking. Only through collaborative effort can Europe’s National Metrology Institutes make the necessary advances in measurement quality to underpin reliable climate assessments, models and predictions.
Four EMRP projects supported improved accuracy of measurement data for Essential Climate Variables and the development of new measurement methods and technologies:
- European metrology for Earth observation and climate
- Metrology for ocean salinity and acidity
- Metrology for pressure, temperature, humidity and airspeed in the atmosphere
- Spectral reference data for atmospheric monitoring
Creating a clean, safe environment
Accurate data is essential to monitoring and managing the environment and enabling the design and implementation of effective environmental regulation. Recognising the hazards posed by pollution, the EU has developed an extensive body of legislation which establishes health-based standards and objectives for pollutants in air, water and soil. Key to the successful implementation of these policies is an underpinning measurement infrastructure that ensures that environmental data is robust and consistent across monitoring networks, across national borders and over time.
Five EMRP projects focused on improving the quality of environmental monitoring data to ensure the effective implementation of European regulation:
- Metrology for chemical pollutants in air
- Emerging requirements for measuring pollutants from automotive exhaust emissions
- Traceable measurements for monitoring critical pollutants under the European Water Framework Directive
- Traceability for surface spectral solar ultraviolet radiation
- Metrology for radioactive waste management
All EMRP project teams engage widely with the user communities who will benefit from the research. For the Environment theme EMRP projects this included the climatology community, environmental monitoring agencies and laboratories, and key measurement instrumentation suppliers as well as the relevant technical committees and working groups in the standardisation community.
These projects are still in progress – see Call 2013 - Energy & Environment for further information.
This report outlines the key technical achievements and early impacts of the first group of projects completed under the EMRP Environment theme. The report explores the new measurement capabilities developed as a result of the collaborations within the Environment projects.