Air pollution and the eutrophication and acidification of European Seas ETC/ACC Technical Paper 2008/17

12 Feb 2009

Iulian Petchesi

Considering Europe’s marine environment this report discusses the possible scale of influence of the two pollutants, carbon dioxide and nitrogen gases, on marine biogeochemistry and ecological status. These two pollutants are linked through the carbon and nitrogen cycles.

The consequences of each pollutant may be profound. The potential rate of acidification of Europe’s marine waters may be rapid, and may encourage a re-evaluation of desirable climate policies towards the more stringent end. Atmospheric nitrogen alone may be capable of bringing about a change in the trophic status of some marine areas. Policies for reduction of nitrogen inputs to European seas may wish to more directly address atmospheric flows. More broadly, policies may wish to address the concept of a duty of care towards marine areas which risk falling outside national territorial considerations.

This report is intended as a Discussion Document, to stimulate further consideration of these issues. The analyses it provides are acknowledged as being preliminary and coarse, in order simply to provide a first measure of possible scale.

Prepared by: ETC/ACC members Kevin Barrett NILU)and Hans Eerens (PBL)

Published by: ETC/ACC, December 2008, 40 pp.