Publication date: 2010-09-17
This week’s CORDIS Express brings a variety of news and reports from across the world of European science and research. A group of scientists and conservationists are highlighting the need for action on biodiversity. Global seas may rise in the future, but geo-engineering may not help. There is hope for the endangered white-shouldered ibis. A new report from the European Commission focuses on sustainable urban development. A new project is giving a boost to a sustainable European grid infrastructure. While there are fewer cancer deaths in the European Union, more prevention is still needed. In Finally and Briefly, scientists are studying memory... and toast.
News - Top Stories
Despite ever greater efforts to protect biodiversity, this precious resource continues to decline. Now a group of scientists and conservationists warns that to reverse this troubling trend, society must urgently rethink its attitudes to biodiversity and change its behaviour accordingly. The team hopes its message will be heeded by world leaders when they attend the forthcoming 65th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, which will be devoted to the subject of biodiversity. In addition, the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity is scheduled to take place this autumn. Writing in the journal Science, the group argues that biodiversity should be more widely recognised as a global public good.
Researchers from Europe and China warn that little can be done to stop dangerous increases in the global sea level, as it will rise between 30 to 70 centimetres (cm) by 2100 even if all but the most aggressive geo-engineering schemes are undertaken to mitigate the effects of global warming and stringently control greenhouse gas emissions. Such changes are likely to cause devastation for the 150 million people living in low-lying coastal areas including inhabitants of some of the world's largest cities. The study's findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal. Some scientists have proposed ways of geo-engineering the Earth to tackle global warming, thereby reducing its impact on both the main contributors of sea level rise: thermal expansion of ocean water and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.
The global population of the rare white-shouldered ibis (Pseudibis davisoni) stands at no less than 429 individuals, which is 30% higher than previous estimates, new research reveals. The discovery raises hopes that this critically endangered species will escape extinction. However, conservationists warn of continued threats to this beautiful bird. White-shouldered ibis were once found throughout much of South-East Asia. But deforestation, the drainage of wetlands for agriculture and hunting have brought the bird to the brink of extinction, making it the most endangered water bird in South-East Asia. It has disappeared from southern China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Today, some 90% of the global population can be found in the dry deciduous forests of northern and eastern Cambodia; the remaining few birds reside in southern Laos and East Kalimantan in Indonesia.
These articles have been taken from CORDIS News, a daily news service updated every weekday lunchtime. For more research and innovation headlines, go to the CORDIS News homepage.
Focus on Innovation
Cities are where humanity succeeds and fails. When cities actively recognise the need for economic, social and environmental sustainability and act accordingly, citizens have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. When social exclusion, environmental damage and lack of infrastructure are the norm, quality of life is irrevocably damaged. With some five billion people out of a total global population of eight billion forecast to be living in cities by 2030, urbanisation needs to be at the top of the agenda. The European Commission has been tackling this issue head-on. It recently published the 'World and European Sustainable Cities' report, which highlights European research activities designed to reconcile urbanisation with the need for sustainable and inclusive growth.
Future of Research
Efforts to create a sustainable European grid infrastructure are being given a boost by the EU-funded 'EGI-integrated sustainable pan-European infrastructure for research in Europe' (EGI.INSPIRE) project, which has clinched EUR 25 million in support under the Research Infrastructures programme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The resulting e-infrastructure will be made available to all European scientists and their international collaborators. EGI.INSPIRE, led by the Dutch-based Stichting European Grid Initiative (EGI), is helping to continue the work initiated by the 'Enabling grids for e-science' (EGEE-III) project. Over a two-year period that ended in April 2010, EGEE-III targeted better grid standards and stronger commercial uptake.
Fewer people in the EU may be dying of cancer, but its incidence rose by almost 20% from 2002 to 2008, reports a special issue of the European Journal of Cancer (EJC) published on 13 September. Studies presented in the EJC, which is the official journal of the European Cancer Organisation (ECCO), received funding from the 'The impact of key determinants on the current and future burden of cancer in Europe'(Eurocadet) project, which received more than EUR 987 000 under the 'Research for policy support' cross-cutting activity of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). In one of the papers presented in EJC, Dr José M Martin-Morena of the University of Valencia in Spain said the current economic crisis in Europe could potentially impact upon the incidence of this disease in myriad areas.
A conference on the topic of 'Europe: where knowledge has no borders' will be held on 5 October 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. The event will highlight the advantages of researcher mobility and international cooperation for career enhancement and economic growth. It will also highlight the contribution of the Euraxess initiative to the ‘Innovation Union’ plan, in particular its role in making Europe the destination of choice for researchers and promoting the free circulation of knowledge in the EU. The event will start off with a ‘virtual’ presentation of Commissioner for Research Maire Geoghegan-Quinn. This will be followed by a chance to meet AIBO the robot dog, see a car without a driver and a solar-powered aeroplane. Attendees will get the latest insights about the plans to transform Europe into an 'Innovation Union'.
The Seventh Biennial of Heritage Restoration and Management will take place from 11 to 14 November 2010 in Valladolid, Spain. Cultural heritage has been seen for many years as a common asset with a social value, among others, reflecting the history of a specific human society, forming part of its memory and, therefore, its identity. People usually recognise the cultural values of this historical legacy and sometimes identify with them. This interrelationship between society and heritage, stemming from the historical development of the culture in which that society lives, has been analysed from different theoretical and practical perspectives and disciplines, looking at the numerous factors that characterise this relationship. The core topic of the forthcoming 2010 edition of this event will be the 'Economics of Cultural Heritage', with various activities being organised around this theme.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission has issued a tender for a gap analysis for water scarcity and droughts in the EU. The balance between water demand and availability has reached a critical level in many areas of Europe (water scarcity). In addition, more and more areas are adversely affected by changes in the hydrological cycle and precipitation patterns (increasing aridity and frequency of droughts). Climate change will almost certainly exacerbate these adverse impacts in the future, with more frequent and severe droughts expected across Europe and the neighbouring countries. Over the past 30 years, droughts have dramatically increased in number and intensity in the EU. It is estimated that the number of areas and people affected by droughts went up by almost 20% between 1976 and 2006 and that at least 11% of the European population and 17% of the EU territory have been affected by water scarcity.
The business unit ‘Innovation systems, value creation and international integration’ of the Fraunhofer Centre for Central and Eastern Europe in Leipzig, Germany is offering expertise in the analysis of conditions for economically relevant innovations and value chains. Unit research tools include best practice studies, feasibility and foresight studies, benchmark analyses, strengths, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses, cost-benefit analyses, structural and network analyses, a CEEC (central and eastern European country) barometer and scoreboards, as well as matchmaking and workshops. The unit is also carrying out a study on framework conditions and incentive schemes for innovation and new technologies in selected central and eastern European countries. Economic, political and social framework conditions (e.g. competition policy, labour market regulations, intellectual property rights regimes, fiscal and subsidies systems) are being evaluated with regard to their significance on the innovation process,as well as their suitability for the knowledge-based economy.
The CORDIS Partners Service publish partner profiles and find research collaborators to take part in EU-funded research, join a consortium or run a private collaboration in your area of interest. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7. To find partners for the Sixth Framework Programme, go to our FP7 Partners Service, which also features an advanced search facility.
Next-generation cellular wireless systems will require data rates which are one order of magnitude higher than the ones provided by current systems. One way to improve the rates is to increase bandwidth. Unfortunately, spectrum is a fragmented resource and large bands of frequencies are unavailable to one single operator. The 'Spectrum aggregation and multi-user MIMO: real-world impact' (Samurai) project will look at spectrum aggregation as an opportunity to overcome this limitation, putting together several non-contiguous frequency channels to benefit from larger bandwidth in a single communication link. Conceptually simple, this idea brings significant technical challenges in developing system and user equipment. Data rates can also be increased by improving the spectral efficiency. It can be achieved using multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) systems.
Finally and Briefly
It's a known secret that some supermarkets and retail outlets pipe air from in-store bakeries to specific areas, often a location's entrance, to entice shoppers. The reasoning goes that years of experience have led to the conclusion that the smell of a bakery can lead to a higher take at the till.
Is there a scientific basis for this percieved behaviour? Perhaps there is.