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Manez Costa M.A.,Climate Service Center | Moors E.J.,Alterra | Fraser E.D.G.,University of Guelph
Ecology and Society | Year: 2011

Although climate change models project that communities in southern Europe may be exposed to increasing drought in coming years, relatively little is known about how socioeconomic factors will exacerbate or reduce this problem. We assess how socioeconomic and policy changes have affected drought vulnerability in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal, where EU agricultural policy and the construction of a major dam have resulted in a shift from a land-extensive mixed agricultural system to the intensive production of irrigated grapes and olives. Following a dynamic systems approach, we use both published socioeconomic data and stakeholder interviews to present a narrative account of how this transition has increased the region's vulnerability to drought. To explore the assumptions made in the narrative, and to present different possible future scenarios, we create a dynamic systems model, the results of which suggest that socioeconomic drivers will play a more important role than projected rainfall changes in increasing vulnerability in the future. © 1969 by the author(s).

Sieber S.,Leibniz Association for Agricultural Landscape Research E.V. | Tscherning K.,Leibniz Association for Agricultural Landscape Research E.V. | Muller K.,Leibniz Association for Agricultural Landscape Research E.V. | Verweij P.,Alterra | Jansson T.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Modelling for Environment's Sake: Proceedings of the 5th Biennial Conference of the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society, iEMSs 2010 | Year: 2010

The objective of the paper is to evaluate the applied non-standardised Model Requirement Analysis (MRA). Using the presented methods and results of the MRA, we discuss the suitability for appropriate ways to improve applied methods using the example of the Sustainability Impact Assessment Tools (SIAT). Special focus is given to the prerequisites of project design to assure model use towards model outcome. The applied methods of the MRA consist of evolutionary prototyping, which provides a way to structure the subsequent group discussions with end-users. The results first summarise the conducted interactions with potential end-users and evaluate the usefulness of conducting MRA for each end-user meeting. A direct outcome of the MRA is the identification of four categories of requirements for the SIAT design: (a) Spatial, time and thematic integration, (b) technical performance and system advancements, (c) quality assurance of data and model systems results and (d) organisational linkages for model system embedding. We give a number of reasons why the undertaken development process of SIAT was not sufficient for actual operational use towards outcome at the level of policy decision making. A number of recommendations and rules for stakeholder involvement and development methods are suggested in the conclusions.

The interior climate of many buildings is poor. This is also the case for offices, schools, hospitals, and other public and semi-public buildings. Small-scale research suggests that plants can make a significant contribution to the resolution of problems in interior climates. A group of research institutes, social organisations and companies is now set to perform large-scale research into this. Companies and care institutes wishing to participate can register. Plants add moisture to the air, can help purify the air of undesired substances and also create a pleasant environment. All these factors can also deliver cost savings, both from a technical perspective (reduced need for artificial climate control, energy savings, etc.) and from the perspective of the improved performance of the users of the building (for instance expressed in lower rates of sickness absenteeism). So why has there not yet been a large-scale introduction of plants in buildings? "Because there are as yet insufficient concrete figures on the matter and insufficient innovative and usable green solutions," explains project leader Annemieke Smit of Alterra. "There is a lack of awareness and hard evidence of the economic effects achieved through cost savings on the technical side and improvements for the user. In other words, no cost-benefit analysis has been carried out on which companies and institutions can base their policies and actions if they want to make the interiors of their premises greener." The research should lead to an improved use of greenery in buildings for a more sustainable set-up and a healthier living and working climate. The research that has been performed so far has generally been of too small a scale, too fragmented or carried out under laboratory conditions. A new innovation project will not only look at what plants physically contribute to the air quality in buildings, but also the influence of this on the health and well-being of the people working or living there. In this way, the researchers want to examine the actual effects of the large-scale use of plants on the interior climate. As part of this, attention will also be devoted to the costs and benefits of this. For instance, can savings be made with regard to the traditional, energy-wasting air treatment systems? Can plants reduce sickness absenteeism, or boost people's powers of concentration and therefore also their productivity? The study forms part of De Groene Agenda (The Green Agenda), an overarching programme for a healthy living and working environment, thanks to a grant from the Horticulture & Propagation Materials top sector, and will be carried out by a large consortium of institutions and companies, including Alterra Wageningen UR, Fytagoras, Wageningen University, the IVN, the Dutch Green Building Council, the iVerde foundation, FloraHolland, Noviflora, Donkergroen and Priva. "We are now just looking for companies and health-care institutions that would like to participate; in other words, practical locations at which we can carry out the research," says Annemieke Smit. "Interested parties can contact us." Explore further: Imaginative ideas for a 'greenlight district' in Amsterdam

News Article | December 26, 2015
Site: cleantechnica.com

Getting back to my catch-up work regarding the Renewable Cities Global Learning Forum, the panel discussion below is a wonky one on innovative financing for green progress. Ken highlighted how Burlington financed the switch to 100% renewable electricity. “I’m here to tell you that renewables can actually reduce your cost,” was one of many gems from this presentation. Burlington’s wholesale electricity cost dropped 40% from 2009 till this presentation, as it was switching more and more to renewables. Ken’s whole presentation was quite interesting, but I particularly enjoyed how he highlighted the cost risks of fossil fuels like natural gas. Ross highlighted the clean energy leadership of Alterra Power Corp. He provided useful insight into the type of financing Alterra and other clean energy companies use. I particularly liked his important emphasis on the predictability of electricity generation from renewables, and how that enables “lots and lots of capital available,” at very low interest rates. Karen discussed a study on investment risks and opportunities concerning climate change. Matt discusses exactly what you’d expect when looking at his job title — renewable energy cooperatives. It’s focused on Canadian policies, but the main lessons/ideas can extend beyond Canada. Following the presentations were ~12 minutes of questions and answers. One particular part of that I loved was Ross Beaty’s response to a question regarding divestment, in which he emphasized that fossil fuels are now just really, really bad to investment options. Read more of our Renewable Cities coverage for much more from this wonderful event.   Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.   Zachary Shahan is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media: ZacharyShahan.com, .

Decuyper M.,Alterra | Slim P.A.,Alterra | Van Loon-Steensma J.M.,Wageningen University
Journal of Coastal Conservation | Year: 2014

The study uses a rather unusual method, dendrochronology, to investigate the growth and survival of Atriplex portulacoides L. and Artemisia maritima L. on salt marshes at two field sites on the Dutch North Sea barrier islands of Terschelling and Ameland. By providing information on longevity of these typical salt-marsh shrubs, dendrochronology offers an indirect way to investigate the influence of management regime - grazing in this case - on marsh quality and areal extent. Diminishment of salt marshes is a continuing concern in the northern Netherlands. The two shrub species studied here, A. portulacoides and A. maritima, are common to salt marshes. With their extensive roots and branches, they facilitate sedimentation and stabilize salt marshes. Using dendrochronology, this study found that annual growth rings could be identified to determine shrub age and growth. In A. portulacoides these rings took the form of a narrow band of terminal parenchyma. In A. maritima they were made up of unlignified marginal parenchyma together with higher vessel density at the beginning of the growing season. Growth rings indicated that intense grazing was clearly detrimental to the survival of A. portulacoides at the Terschelling site. However, grazing facilitated survival of A. maritima at the Ameland site by reducing light and nutrient competition from grasses. No growth trends could be found, however, as the lifespan for both species is short and many other influences on shrub growth could be identified. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

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