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Status Report 2012

Modelling and Mapping of Atmospherically-induced Ecosystem Impacts in Europe


The revision of the Gothenburg Protocol, concluded in 2012, foresees the further reduction of air pollution (by sulphur, nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and – for the first time – particulate matter), with positive effects on the environment and human health. To this end, the revised Protocol requires EU member states to meet stricter emissions ceilings for these four air pollutants from 2020.

In Chapter 1, the effects of these emission reduction commitments on acidification, eutrophication and biodiversity indicators are described. As one of its tasks, the Coordination Centre for Effects (CCE) maintains and updates the European database on critical loads of acidity and nutrient nitrogen.

The negotiations were based on critical loads data from 2008; however, the latest updates to the critical loads database are now available on a much finer spatial resolution – and these are described in Chapter 2. The availability of both the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ critical loads database, together with the results from the updated atmospheric transport model, allows the ‘old’ and ‘new’data to be compared –as also reported in Chapter 1. Reassuringly, the results based on calculations using these two datasets do not differ greatly, although nutrient nitrogen remains a problem: critical loads of nutrient nitrogen are exceeded on 62% of the ecosystem area in the EU-27 countries. Also in Chapter 1, the authors of the report examine which (uniform) emission reductions are needed to virtually eliminate the exceedance of critical loads in the whole of Europe. In 2001, the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive of the EU also used critical loads in its design.

In Chapter 3, the results of a study for and with the European Environment Agency (EEA) are reported, thereby providing answers to the question of whether the goals of the NEC Directive –with respect to critical loads –are achieved. This study was performed using both the data and models that were available during the negotiations of the Directive (‘old knowledge’) and current knowledge on critical loads and deposition models.

The main conclusion is that nitrogen remains a major problem. The further development and application of soil and vegetation models, as also pursued in the project entitled “Effects of Climate Change on Air Pollution Impacts and Response Strategies for European Ecosystems” (ECLAIRE) under the seventh Framework Programme, have been carried out to enable the assessment of vegetation changes due to air pollution and climate change. The current state of (regional-scale) modelling of forest growth and vegetation change is described in Chapters 4 and 5, respectively. The suitability of these (and other) such models to predict changes in floral diversity has been investigated by several countries within the framework of the 2011/12 Call for Contributions issued by the CCE to the National Focal Centres of the CCE (see also Chapter 2).

This CCE Status Report is part of the Workplan 2012–13 of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) in support of integrated assessment in Europe. This Workplan assesses policy options for the (further) reduction of nitrogen and sulphur depositions, as well as of particulate matter and greenhouse gases, in the context of environmental and health effects.


Modelling and Mapping of Atmospherically-induced Ecosystem Impacts in Europe (pdf, 35mb)
(+erratum(pdf, 114kb))

Author(s) Posch M, Slootweg J, Hettelingh J-P (eds)
Report no.


Publication date January 2013
ISBN 978-90-6960-262-2
Pages 144
Language English

last update 9 Dec 2014