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Development of an information technology tool for the management of european southern lagoons under the influence of river-basin runoff

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Ensuring environment quality status for European lagoons

The aquatic ecosystem of Southern European lagoons needs to be supported by local and national governments. A new decision support system designed as part of an EU led project, has created an IT tool which can aid with the selection of techniques and actions taken to ensure sustainable lagoon ecosystems.

Climate Change and Environment

The European Water Framework Directive entered into force in 2000. In line with this Directive, management of southern European lagoons needs to ensure that there is a good environment quality status. The DITTY research project was geared towards developing sustainable marine ecosystems. In particular, case studies were conducted on southern European lagoons. The scientists employed different kinds of analytical and mathematical tools to develop a system which would support the decision making process of local and national authorities when managing lagoons under the influence of river basin runoff. The information technology tool as it has been designed is able to simulate and emulate the effects on the lagoon ecosystem. It analyses factors such as lagoon fluid dynamics, river runoff influence, nutrients' cycles, shellfish farming and macro-algal blooms. What characterises the DITTY Decision support system (DSS) is its flexible structure. It has been designed in such a way so as to be able to adapt to problems of varying degrees of complexity. This has been made possible because the case studies were carried out in different locations across southern Europe. What this meant in effect, was that the results produced were subject to differing geographical and socioeconomic contexts. Therefore the designed system was able to account for the effects of different agricultural, urban and economic activities and how these factors influence the aquatic ecosystem. The DITTY DSS provided a valuable contribution which is capable of being applied to contexts outside of the project domain. What this has meant is that although initially directed at Mediterranean lagoons, the DSS structure can be applied to all types of coastal lagoons, such as those in the Baltic, Black and North Sea.

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