Welcome to MANTEL
Updated: Nov 22, 2017
Eleanor Jennings, Coordinator, MANTEL ITN
Storm Ophelia approaching Ireland in October 2017. Image: www.earth.nullschool.net
May I take this opportunity, as MANTEL ITN Coordinator, to welcome you to the MANTEL ITN Project. I hope you find the project of interest, and if you need any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch.
In Ireland, we have always had changeable weather, due mainly to our location on the eastern fringe of the Atlantic Ocean and the western fringe of Europe, and you can tell this from the amount of time that we in Ireland spend talking about the weather, both in our day-to-day discussions, and as part of the broader national conversation. However, it now seems as if the whole world is talking about the changing weather – and it is. Not only are they talking about the weather, but there is a definite consensus among citizen in Europe that climate change is now a global threat. Behind this realisation is solid science from climate change researchers across the globe, as captured in the most recent assessment from the International Panel on Climate Change. But what will also be needed in the future are science-based methods for adapting to the impacts of a changing climate.
As part of the MANTEL (Management of Climatic Extreme Events in Lakes & Reservoirs for the Protection of Ecosystem Services) European Joint Doctoral (EJD) Innovative Training Network, we are training 12 of the best and brightest young scientists from across the world to investigate the effects of the most extreme climatic events such as storms and heatwaves, as well as more subtle lower magnitude episodic events, on the water quality of our lakes and reservoirs.
Understanding the impact of climate extremes and more gradual climate change is important because of the negative effects these can have on ecosystem services. Lakes and reservoirs provide water for drinking and irrigation, opportunities for recreational use, and economic benefits such as fisheries and tourism, services that are affected by climate extremes. Storms with high rainfall, for example, are typically associated with in-flow of large loads of dissolved organic matter (DOM), while toxic cyanobacterial blooms can form during heat waves. When drinking water supplies are chlorinated, high DOM levels in water result in the formation of disinfection by-products (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes (THMs): compounds which are associated with diseases of the liver, central nervous system, and an increased risk of cancers. Heatwaves can boost the development of cyanobacterial blooms through indirect and direct temperature effects, and pulses in nutrient loading during storms. These blooms can produce toxins that affect use for human consumption and for recreation. Both high levels of DOM, and the occurrence of cyanobacterial blooms, can lead to substantial costs for water managers and mitigation of their effects will be a pressing need into the future.
Exploring the occurrence and the effects of these events requires monitoring that captures the event itself (which may occur over hours) as well as the ensuing impact (which can be months or years). There is now a well-established community of multidisciplinary scientific researchers and water resource managers using the automated lake high frequency monitoring (HFM) systems needed to track these events. Within Europe, many have been part of the Networking Lake Observatories in Europe (NETLAKE) COST Action (www.netlake.org) while globally they are part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (www.gleon.org). MANTEL is building on this network science and using HFM infrastructure to support next generation science to protect our lakes, reservoirs and ecosystems services.
While HFM provides new insights into changes in lakes during episodic events, tomorrow’s researchers and managers also develop new metrics to describe them, new modelling approaches to simulate them and new theoretical frameworks, to aid in the design of new management approaches. The research and transferable skills that the MANTEL researchers gain will equip them to help society adapt to climate change, not only as researchers, but also as water resources managers, industry innovators, water resource consultants, and policy makers.
Mobility is an integral component of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action programme and our MANTEL Early Stage Researchers are no exception, moving not only between European countries, but also from the USA , Brazil, Malawi and Iran. We congratulate them on their new positions, and wish them well in this new chapter in their lives. We also look forward to hearing about their research as it progresses, both in the field, in the lab and in the virtual world of data analytics, and to sharing it with you on this MANTEL blog.