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The overall aim of the Department of Lake and Estuarine Ecology is to provide the scientific basis for the administration and management of lakes and estuarine ecosystems. This is achieved through strategic and applied research and through work on environmental data within these research areas. The department's responsibilities also include coordinating NERI's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing activities.

Lake ecology

Estuarine ecology

Environmental data

GIS and remote sensing

Resources

Lake ecology

The department conducts research on the regulation of lake ecosystems and the impact of human activity. The majority of Danish lakes are shallow and the main environmental issue is eutrophication attributable to past and present excessive nutrient loading from agriculture and sewage. A major objective is therefore to predict the effects of reduced nutrient loading in shallow lakes, and to establish measures to reduce lake recovery time.

The department's research strategy combines intensive investigation in a limited number of lakes with an extensive database of data from a large number of Danish lakes. The database contains county authority monitoring data from more than 700 Danish lakes and is a valuable tool in this research, being used to test the generality of the intensive studies.

The department's lake research encompasses

A Northern European lake database project was initiated in 1991 in cooperation with RIZA in the Netherlands that now also includes Norway, Sweden and the UK. The main objective is to develop predictive models for lake management and to establish biological criteria for lake environmental quality.

The department's research strategy together with the establishment of empirical and dynamics models facilitates use of the research findings in policy analysis. Thus the impact on the lake ecosystems of measures applied in agriculture and sewage management can be predicted in scenarios.

Danish lakes and estuaries are important resting and breeding areas for birds. Both types of ecosystem are important for biodiversity at both the national and international levels, and lake restoration is one of the major means of increasing biodiversity. High priority is therefore given to lake restoration measures and their effects on the flora and fauna.

Estuarine ecology

The department's estuarine research focuses on the interactions between nutrient loading, physical processes, biological structure and nutrient cycling in estuarine ecosystems. The main environmental issue is eutrophication and associated oxygen depletion due to excessive nutrient input, especially from agriculture. Research of ecological effects of reduced nutrient loading and ecosystem recovery time is undertaken in several research projects in response to a number of national mesures being taken to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous loading of the marine environment. Further, several research projects are carried out in relation to global change problems.

The department's estuarine ecology research encompasses

The research is being undertaken in cooperation with scientists from Department of Marine Ecology and Microbiology, NERI, and a number of European and North American research institutions.

Environmental data

The department is part of the National Focal Point for freshwater data and marine data. As such the department is responsible for the reliability and representativeness of the data collected and processed by regional authorities. The department is also responsible for the planning, coordination and national reporting of lake monitoring undertaken as part of the Nationwide Monitoring Programme established under the 1987 Action Plan on the Aquatic Environment and revised in 1998. In addition, the department participates in the monitoring activities relating to marine areas. In both cases data sampling, data processing and regional reporting are undertaken by the county authorities.

The environmental data is important in following the environmental quality of lakes and estuaries. Integrating research and monitoring activities ensures monitoring of a high quality and gives a strategic perspective to the research.

The department participates in the work of the EEA as part of the European Topic Centre for Inland Waters.

GIS and remote sensing

Area information is important for interpreting monitoring data, as well as for many other aspects of NERI's research. GIS is therefore an important tool for monitoring, research and presentation, while remote sensing has great potential for monitoring and research.

The department coordinates NERI's GIS and remote sensing activities, thereby supporting NERI projects with regard to the collection, analysis and presentation of geographical data.

Special emphasis is placed on the development of new methods for monitoring and characterizing land use, as well as for modelling the effects of land use and changes in land use.

In addition, the department is developing an inter-ministerial Areal Information System (AIS) in cooperation with the major data collecting institutes in Denmark. The department also participates in the European Topic Centre for Land Cover under the European Environment Agency.

Resources

The Department of Lake and Estuarine Ecology has a staff of 45 comprising 20 scientists or senior scientists and 25 technical and administrative personnel, and is currently supervising 5 PhD students.

The department's 2000 budget is DKK 20 million, 11 million of which derives from external sources (research grants, contract research, consultancies, etc.).

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Responsible for this page is : Lilian Mex-Jørgensen
Document date March 20, 2000