By Gary Thomas
Scientists from the University of Southampton have announced that they are ground-breaking a new method to measure and monitor the agricultural and industrial impact on the environment.
Southampton researchers along with the University of Dundee, the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, and East China Normal University have formed the first long-term ecosystem health record in the globe. This record examines the previous conditions of ecological resources in Yangtze basin area of China, and assist in developing future forecasts.
Core samples were drilled by the team at two lakes in the area, located towards the western part of Shanghai, and comprehensive studies have been conducted over the retrieved sediments.
According to Professor John Dearing, lead scientist from the University of Southampton, the compiled data has been obtained from the analysis of geo-chemistry, microfossils, sediment accumulation rates and mineral magnetism. The researchers obtain clues about the previous ecological health, by these various analyses. For instance, the air quality can be measured using metal content, whereas the diversity of the plant species can be known through pollen samples. Scientists were able to track the ecological resource conditions over a period of 200 years, by collating all the data.
Scientists have additionally tested climate models and official statistical records to offer trends based on gross domestic product (GDP), population, land use, precipitation and temperature. These statistics when compared with the core sample data have shown a downward trend in the quality of ecosystem services, with a sharp increase in GDP in the Yangtze area during 1970s. Scientists may possibly utilize the new technique, developed in China, for the globe’s other regions. They aimed to assist policymakers in order to prioritize the critical environmental issues.