Why do environmentalists eat meat?

A study by researchers at the ICTA-UAB analyses the reasons why environmentally-minded scientists find it difficult to give up meat consumption, one of the world's greatest environmental problems.

La gestión del verde urbano permite incrementar la presencia de pájaros en las ciudades

Incrementar la biodiversidad del verde urbano permitiría aumentar la presencia de aves paseriformes en las ciudades mediterráneas, según un estudio científico realizado por investigadores del Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Ambientales de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) que analiza qué estrategias hay que implementar sobre la vegetación urbana para conseguir "naturalizar" las ciudades favoreciendo la entrada de flora y fauna.

The Ebro River annually dumps 2.2 billion microplastics into the sea

An ICTA-UAB study analyses the distribution and accumulation of microplastics from one of the main rivers of the western Mediterranean.

European project to support rooftop greenhouses projects

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is launching an open call to support rooftop greenhouse projects, in the framework of GROOF Project.

El ICTA-UAB participa en el proyecto que habilitará 10 escuelas de Barcelona como refugios climáticos

El Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Ambientales de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) es una de las instituciones impulsoras de un proyecto que habilitará 10 escuelas de Barcelona como refugios climáticos para disminuir el impacto de las altas temperaturas del verano.

A warmer ocean will lead to 17% reduction in global marine animal biomass, by the end of the century

Climate change will affect the distribution and abundance of marine life, but the full extent of these changes under future warming has been difficult to predict due to the limitations of individual ecosystem models used for such forecasts.

New study dismisses green growth policies as a route out of ecological emergency

Researchers from ICTA-UAB and the Goldsmiths University of London suggest that emissions reduction is only compatible with a lower economical degrowth or a degrowth scenario.

New cross-boundary approach for addressing wicked weed problems

Weed species continue to spread and management costs continue to mount, in spite of best management practices and efforts by research and extension personnel who promote them to land managers.

Urban green spaces do not benefit the health of all

In general, the creation of parks and green spaces in urban centers has positive effects on the health of city residents.

ICTA-UAB researcher Antoni Rosell-Melé receives an ERC Advanced Grant

ICTA-UAB researcher Antoni Rosell-Melé has been awarded an Advanced Grant (AdvGr) from the European Research Council (ERC) to develop the project "New geochemical approach to reconstruct tropical palaeo-atmospheric dynamics" (PALADYN).

Urban Agriculture on Rooftops Provides Healthy, Fresh and Sustainable Food

​The implementation of urban gardens on building rooftops could produce fresh, healthy and sustainable agricultural food and guarantee the food sovereignty of cities, which are becoming increasingly populated.

Indigenous knowledge, key to a successful ecosystem restoration

Ecological restoration projects actively involving indigenous peoples and local communities are more successful. This is the result of a study carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).

Future changes in human well-being more likely to depend on Social Factors than Economic Factors

The changes in the perception of personal well-being that could take place in the next three decades, on a global level, depend much more on social factors than on economic ones.

Success at ICTA-UAB: Six ERC Grants In Three Years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded six European Research Council (ERC) grants in three years, from the end of 2015 to the end of 2018. Each project (of between 1.5 and 2 million euros) lasts for five years and allows the recruitment of a team of six or seven doctoral students and postdocs.
A warmer ocean will lead to 17% reduction in global marine animal biomass, by the end of the century

Date: 2019-06-12

Climate change will affect the distribution and abundance of marine life, but the full extent of these changes under future warming has been difficult to predict due to the limitations of individual ecosystem models used for such forecasts. However, by combining such models, a more complete picture can emerge.

A new scientific article involving ICTA-UAB researcher Eric Galbraith presents a comprehensive global-ocean assessment of climate change by using a combination of multiple climate and ecosystem models. The article has been recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and has been carried out by an international group of 35 researchers from 12 countries and 4 continents. Three Spanish researchers have participated in the study: Manuel Barange, director of the División de Políticas y Recursos de Pesca y Acuicultura (FIA) at the FAO; Marta Coll, expert on marine ecosystem modeling at the Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (ICM- CSIC) and Jose A. Fernandes, expert on Big Data and artificial intelligence at de AZTI.

This model ‘ensemble’ reveals that global marine animal biomass – the total weight of marine animals such as fish, invertebrates and marine mammals in the ocean – will decline under all emission scenarios, driven largely by increasing temperature and decreasing primary production. The extent of projected losses can be constrained by emission reductions, with only a 5% decline under a strong mitigation scenario, but 17% under business-as-usual emissions by the end of the 21st century. Notably, the magnitude of this climate change effect was similar in an ocean with and without fishing pressure.  
“Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will undoubtedly help to safeguard marine life as much as possible against further losses” says Lead Author Heike Lotze from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. 

The analysis also suggested that climate-change impacts may be more severe at higher food-web levels, meaning that fish and marine mammals may suffer more severe declines compared to phytoplankton. This process is called ‘trophic amplification’ and describes the particular vulnerability of animals such as large fish at the higher ends of marine food chains.
“Our findings suggest that larger marine animals, many of which are already of conservation concern, could show a particular vulnerability to climate-driven declines, with a domino effect from phytoplankton up the food chain” adds co-author Derek Tittensor of the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK. 

Mapping the projected changes in the global ocean (see Figure below) revealed that biomass will decline in many temperate to tropical ocean regions where people are highly dependent on seafood supply and where marine biodiversity is already affected by cumulative human impacts. Here, climate change is creating another layer of stress onto marine ecosystems and human societies alike. In contrast, many polar regions around the Arctic and Antarctica could show biomass increases which may provide new opportunities for marine resource use but also challenges to marine management and conservation. 

 “The synthesis of results from all the state-of-the-art analytical tools provide the important conclusion that climate change is impacting marine biota across the global ocean. The findings reiterate the need for strong mitigation of greenhouse gas emission in order to limit such impacts” says co-author William Cheung from the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia and a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC Special Report for the Oceans and Cryosphere in the Changing Climate.

"We know that food production on land is increasingly put at risk by climate change impacts, such as extreme heat and drought. This study adds another disconcerting chapter to the global warming story, by confirming that human-made climate change endangers food resources in the oceans, too. In 2015, all nations agreed upon the Sustainable Development Goals. One of them is to achieve zero hunger by 2030. Our research shows that this will require not only a much more careful management of natural resources, but also rapid reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions" adds co-author Jacob Schewe from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany.

“The fact that the estimated climate-change impacts are independent of fishing provides an added incentive to develop sustainable and adaptive fishing, responsive to climate change, which we need to feed a world of 9 billion humans” says co-author Manuel Barange, Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, Italy. 

These results provide the most comprehensive outlook on potential climate-driven ecological changes in the ocean to date and can help anticipate changes in valuable marine resources under climate change. As such, the results can inform ongoing international climate and biodiversity negotiations.

Adds co-author Marta Coll of the Institute of Marine Science in Barcelona, Spain: “Our study represents a major undertaking, where we used for the first time a comparative and standardized approach of 6 global marine ecosystem models forced with 2 Earth-system models and 4 emission scenarios with and without fishing. Only collaborating together we could show that the uncertainties due to variations in marine ecosystem and Earth-system models were similar and that ensemble projections performed well when compared to empirical data, emphasizing the benefits of such a study to project future outcomes”.

FIGURE: Projected changes of marine animal biomass by the end of the 21st century (% increase or % decrease compared to the end of the 20th century) under two IPCC emission scenarios:  RCP2.6 assumes strong mitigation, RCP8.6 assumes business-as-usual emissions.

Heike K. Lotze, et al. Global ensemble projections reveal trophic amplification of ocean biomass declines with climate change. PNAS. DOI: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/26/12907

ICTA's Activities