Next Issue
Volume 8, June
Previous Issue
Volume 8, April

Environments, Volume 8, Issue 5 (May 2021) – 10 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Land management has effects on soil properties, as well as on various plant species. All over Europe, semi-natural grasslands are disappearing due to changes in the techniques used for their management, despite their inclusion in Habitat Directive 92/43 EEC (Environment—European Commission) as a conservation priority. View this paper.
  • Issues are regarded as officially published after their release is announced to the table of contents alert mailing list.
  • You may sign up for e-mail alerts to receive table of contents of newly released issues.
  • PDF is the official format for papers published in both, html and pdf forms. To view the papers in pdf format, click on the "PDF Full-text" link, and use the free Adobe Readerexternal link to open them.
Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:
Article
Accounting for DEM Error in Sea Level Rise Assessment within Riverine Regions; Case Study from the Shatt Al-Arab River Region
Environments 2021, 8(5), 46; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050046 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 635
Abstract
Global elevation datasets such as the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model (DEM) are the best available terrain data in many parts of the world. Consequently, SRTM is widely used for understanding the risk of coastal inundation due to climate change-induced [...] Read more.
Global elevation datasets such as the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model (DEM) are the best available terrain data in many parts of the world. Consequently, SRTM is widely used for understanding the risk of coastal inundation due to climate change-induced sea level rise. However, SRTM elevations are prone to error, giving rise to uncertainty in the quality of the inundation projections. This study investigated the error propagation model for the Shatt al-Arab River region (SARR) to understand the impact of DEM error on an inundation model in this sensitive, low-lying coastal region. The analysis involved three stages. First, a multiple regression model, parameterized from the Mississippi River delta region, was used to generate an expected DEM error surface for the SARR. This surface was subtracted from the SRTM DEM for the SARR to adjust it. Second, residuals from this model were simulated for the SARR. Modelled residuals were subtracted from the adjusted SRTM to produce 50 DEM realizations capturing potential elevation variation. Third, the DEM realizations were each used in a geospatial “bathtub” inundation model to estimate flooding area in the region given 1 m of sea level rise. Across all realizations, the area predicted to flood covered about 50% of the entire region, while predicted flooding using the raw SRTM covered only about 28%, indicating substantial underprediction of the affected area when error was not accounted for. This study can be an applicable approach within such environments worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamic of Vegetation and Climate Change)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Comparison between a Traditional (Horse Manure) and a Non-Conventional (Cork Powder) Organic Residue in the Uptake of Potentially Toxic Elements by Lettuce in Contaminated Soils
Environments 2021, 8(5), 45; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050045 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 623
Abstract
The use of natural organic correctives is a current agricultural practice that may have advantages for the production of plants in contaminated soils. Cork powder is a natural sub-product of the cork industry that has several potential benefits compared to more commonly used [...] Read more.
The use of natural organic correctives is a current agricultural practice that may have advantages for the production of plants in contaminated soils. Cork powder is a natural sub-product of the cork industry that has several potential benefits compared to more commonly used soil amendments. In this work, an evaluation was performed of the use of cork powder (a non-conventional organic residue) and horse manure (traditionally used in agriculture) to control the availability of potentially toxic elements in artificially contaminated soils. Four concentrations were used for each element: Cr (100 to 800 mg kg−1), Ni (37.5 to 300 mg kg−1), Zn (150 to 1200 mg kg−1), Cd (1.5 to 12 mg kg−1) and Pb (150 to 1200 mg kg−1). The accumulation of these elements in lettuce plants grown in pots under controlled conditions was evaluated. With the exception of Cd, no significant differences were detected in the absorption of the different elements by lettuce plants at the studied amounts of correctives applied (1% for cork powder and 0.5% for horse manure). Cadmium was the element that accumulated most in lettuce. Cork powder was shown to be less effective than horse manure in controlling the bioavailability of these elements in the soil. Further tests with chemically modified cork products could improve its efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
The Impact of Rural Fires on the Development of Invasive Species: Analysis of a Case Study with Acacia dealbata Link. in Casal do Rei (Seia, Portugal)
Environments 2021, 8(5), 44; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050044 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 694
Abstract
Biological invasions can affect ecosystems in different ways. Invasive forest species, such as Acacia dealbata Link., affect forests’ productivity, because they compete directly with native species for access to light and nutrients, contributing to the loss of biodiversity. In this study, an area [...] Read more.
Biological invasions can affect ecosystems in different ways. Invasive forest species, such as Acacia dealbata Link., affect forests’ productivity, because they compete directly with native species for access to light and nutrients, contributing to the loss of biodiversity. In this study, an area occupied by A. dealbata, located in Casal do Rei (Seia, Portugal) was studied to evaluate the influence of fire in the dispersion of this species, analyzing the historical occurrence of rural fires in the region, as well as through the determination of its annual biomass production and comparing its growth with other species using satellite images. The research shows a competitive advantage for A. dealbata, even when compared to species, such as Eucalyptus globulus and Pinus pinaster, which practically disappeared from the location under study after a significant fire occurred in 2005, while A. dealbata continued to thrive. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Communication
Evaluating the Pollution Risk of Soil Due to Natural Drainage of Orange Peel: First Results
Environments 2021, 8(5), 43; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050043 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 626
Abstract
Orange peel (OP), the main residue of the citrus industry, is usually used for animal feeding and soil fertilisation if more advanced options are lacking. In areas with warm and dry climatic conditions, OP is land-spread for solar-drying on the fields, the leachate [...] Read more.
Orange peel (OP), the main residue of the citrus industry, is usually used for animal feeding and soil fertilisation if more advanced options are lacking. In areas with warm and dry climatic conditions, OP is land-spread for solar-drying on the fields, the leachate produced is a potential pollution factor for soil especially due to the release of organic matter; heavy rainfalls could even aggravate the hazard. Since literature does not report any quantitative evaluation of this risk, this study presents three OP drainage tests in lysimeters, where OP was left releasing leachate on a soil layer. A first test was carried out on raw OP naturally draining, while, in a second and a third test, a rainfall of 100 mm was applied on already drained and solar-dried OP, respectively. After drainage, raw OP reduced its initial volume by about 90% and the leachate production accounted only for about 20% of the initial volume. The simulated rainfall produced even lower volumes of leachate (2–3% of the initial biomass volume), in spite of the high rainfall volume and long drainage time after its application. The COD concentration in the leachate from the raw OP was significantly higher than those produced after simulated rainfall. However, the COD amount released to the soil was negligible. The lysimetric tests showed that the release of leachate occurs mainly during the first phase of drainage and that rainfall is absorbed and does not produce significant leaching. Overall, the risk of soil pollution due to the natural drainage of OP is negligible, due to both limited amounts of leachate and organic loading. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
COVID-19 and the Environment, Review and Analysis
Environments 2021, 8(5), 42; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050042 - 11 May 2021
Viewed by 759
Abstract
We reviewed studies linking COVID-19 cases and deaths with the environment, focusing on relationships with air pollution. We found both short- and long-term observational relationships with a range of regulated pollutants, although only two studies considered both cases (i.e., infections) and deaths within [...] Read more.
We reviewed studies linking COVID-19 cases and deaths with the environment, focusing on relationships with air pollution. We found both short- and long-term observational relationships with a range of regulated pollutants, although only two studies considered both cases (i.e., infections) and deaths within a common analytical framework. Most of these studies were limited to a few months of the pandemic period. Statistically significant relationships were found more often for PM2.5 and NO2 than for other regulated pollutants, but no rationale was suggested for such short-term relationships; latency was seldom considered for long-term relationships. It was also unclear whether confounding had been adequately controlled in either type of study. Studies of air quality improvement following lockdowns found more robust relationships with local (CO, NO2) rather than regional (PM2.5, O3) pollutants, but meteorological confounding was seldom considered. Only one of seven studies of airborne virus transmission reported actual measurements. Overall, we found the existing body of literature to be more suggestive than definitive. Due to these various deficiencies, we assembled a new state-level database of cumulative COVID-19 cases and deaths through March 2021 with a range of potential predictor variables and performed linear regression analyses on various combinations. As single predictors, we found significant (p < 0.05) relationships between cumulative cases and household crowding (+), education (−), face-mask usage (−), or voting Republican (+). For cumulative deaths, we found significant relationships with education (−), black race (+), or previous levels of PM2.5 (+). NOx (+), and elemental carbon (EC, +). We found no relationships between long-term air quality and cumulative COVID-19 cases. Our associations linking air pollution with COVID-19 mortality were not statistically different from those for all-cause mortality in previous studies. In multiple mortality regressions combining air pollution, race, and education, NOx and EC remained significant but PM2.5 did not. We concluded that the current worldwide emphasis on PM2.5 is misplaced. We predicted air pollutant effects of a few percentage points, but individual differences between races, political identification, and post-graduate education were of the order of factors of 2 to 4. In general, the factors predicting infection were personal and related to COVID-19 exposure, while those predicting subsequent mortality tended to be more situational and related to geography. Overall, we concluded that how you live is more important than where you live. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Modification of Hardwood Derived Biochar to Improve Phosphorus Adsorption
Environments 2021, 8(5), 41; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050041 - 06 May 2021
Viewed by 830
Abstract
The excessive application of phosphorus in agricultural lands leads to serious environmental issues. Efficient application is beneficial from an economic and environmental perspectives. Biochar can be used as a carrier for slow release of phosphate. However, its adsorption capacity is limited. In this [...] Read more.
The excessive application of phosphorus in agricultural lands leads to serious environmental issues. Efficient application is beneficial from an economic and environmental perspectives. Biochar can be used as a carrier for slow release of phosphate. However, its adsorption capacity is limited. In this work, biochar was prepared at different pyrolysis temperatures (350–550 °C). The biochar prepared at 550 °C had the highest adsorption capacity and was selected for modification by magnesium impregnation. Magnesium modification enhanced the adsorption capacity by 34% to a theoretical max adsorption capacity of 463.5 mg·g−1. The adsorbed phosphate can be desorbed. The desorption was bi-phasic with fast- and slow-release fractions. The distribution of the phosphate fractions was pH dependent with slow release being most prominent in neutral conditions. Mg modified biochar can be used to recover phosphate and then used as a carrier for slow release of phosphate. The bi-phasic desorption behaviour is useful as the fast release fraction can provide the immediate phosphate needed during plant establishment, while the slow-release fraction maintains steady supply over extended periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restorative Agriculture)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Sustainability Assessment of Traditional Agroecosystems in the High Region of Yaonáhuac, Puebla, Mexico
Environments 2021, 8(5), 40; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050040 - 30 Apr 2021
Viewed by 874
Abstract
A Sustainability Index for Traditional Agroecosystems (SITA) applied in Yaonáhuac, Puebla, Mexico was built. The index was composed of 16 indicators, with which the analysis of diversity-resilience, self-management-autonomy, integration, and self-sufficiency was carried out. To determine the type of sustainability, 62 in-depth interviews [...] Read more.
A Sustainability Index for Traditional Agroecosystems (SITA) applied in Yaonáhuac, Puebla, Mexico was built. The index was composed of 16 indicators, with which the analysis of diversity-resilience, self-management-autonomy, integration, and self-sufficiency was carried out. To determine the type of sustainability, 62 in-depth interviews were applied to inhabitants of the municipality of Yaonáhuac. The results showed that the following indicators increased the sustainability of home gardens: soil fertility properties, agricultural heterogeneity, linking practices with the home garden, family participation, non-participation in government subsidies, agricultural local knowledges, uses of plants, material of the fence or boundary, productive diversity, and destination of crops. It was found that 29 home gardens showed super strong sustainability and 31 had strong sustainability. The SITA can be used to research small-scale traditional agroecosystems with similar characteristics to monitor their sustainability, as well as to assist in decision-making and promote agroecological management from the home. The shown data represent initial information to monitor and propose agroecological transitions in that region. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Brief Report
Public Participation in Biodiversity Impact Assessment in the State of West Bengal, India: Present Status and Finding Ways for Improvement
Environments 2021, 8(5), 39; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050039 - 26 Apr 2021
Viewed by 776
Abstract
The present status of public participation in EIA particularly concerning biodiversity in West Bengal, India was studied. The issues raised in 50 public hearings were analyzed and chapters on biodiversity in 20 EIA reports were studied. Areas needing improvement were identified. Scientific literature [...] Read more.
The present status of public participation in EIA particularly concerning biodiversity in West Bengal, India was studied. The issues raised in 50 public hearings were analyzed and chapters on biodiversity in 20 EIA reports were studied. Areas needing improvement were identified. Scientific literature was studied to gather best practices/concepts. It was observed that, despite all enabling legal provisions, public participation in EIA has not grown to its full potential. The discussion was mostly on jobs and benefits (and little on biodiversity impact). EIA reports did not provide any spatial information on biodiversity-rich/sensitive areas or impact on bio-resources that are used by people. We identified four pillars of effective public participation in EIA as: (i) institutional opportunity and conducive environment for participation; (ii) interest of local people to participate; (iii) capacity building of local people; and, (iv) support of clearance process. Specific recommendations under each are provided. A simple matrix for Biodiversity Impact Assessment and a list of components for the improvement of biodiversity, for use of local people, have been developed. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Effects of Management Practices on Soil Properties and Plant Nutrition in Hay Meadows in Picos de Europa
Environments 2021, 8(5), 38; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050038 - 25 Apr 2021
Viewed by 741
Abstract
Fertilization and mowing affects the physico-chemical properties of soils, as well as the characteristics of the plants growing on them. Changes in the management techniques are causing semi-natural grasslands to disappear all over Europe. These grasslands host a great amount of diversity, thus [...] Read more.
Fertilization and mowing affects the physico-chemical properties of soils, as well as the characteristics of the plants growing on them. Changes in the management techniques are causing semi-natural grasslands to disappear all over Europe. These grasslands host a great amount of diversity, thus their conservation is a top priority. This work studies whether the kind of management has an influence on the soil properties and the foliar content in macronutrients in 25 hay meadows located in Picos de Europa (10 in Asturias, 10 in Castilla y León and 5 in Cantabria). Soils at a 0–20 cm depth showed a high content of organic matter and a low C/N ratio. Effective cation exchange capacity was adequate for a texture, which varied from sandy clay loam to loam, with an average clay content of 17%. Mean values of foliar nutrient concentrations showed a deficiency in K. In this study, management practices were shown to affect some properties of the soils, namely pH, sand percentage and exchangeable K and Ca, to different extents. The highest values of pH and exchangeable Ca were significantly correlated with the least intensive management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Nutrient Dynamics and Plant Response)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Autumnal Beach Litter Identification by Mean of Using Ground-Based IR Thermography
Environments 2021, 8(5), 37; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050037 - 24 Apr 2021
Viewed by 799
Abstract
The progress of scientific research and technological innovation are contributing to an increase in the use of rapid systems for monitoring and identifying geo-environmental processes related to natural and/or anthropogenic activities. The aim of this study is identifying autumnal beach litter using ground-based [...] Read more.
The progress of scientific research and technological innovation are contributing to an increase in the use of rapid systems for monitoring and identifying geo-environmental processes related to natural and/or anthropogenic activities. The aim of this study is identifying autumnal beach litter using ground-based IR thermography. Starting from quarterly autumn monitoring data of air temperature and sandy soil surface temperature, an empirical equation between the two environmental matrices (air and sandy soil) is obtained. This will allow the calculation of the sandy soil surface temperature knowing only the air temperature. Therefore, it will be possible to know in advance the thermal response of the sandy soil, thus creating a thermal blank of the beach. Using an IR thermal camera, it is possible for a quicker identification of thermal anomalies of the coastal area potentially connected to the presence of pollution due to the anthropogenic origin (particularly plastic material). The test area is located in the area of the Coastal Dunes Regional Natural Park of Ostuni–Fasano in Apulia (southern Italy). Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Previous Issue
Next Issue
Back to TopTop