1. As a result of climate change the Atlantic cod has moved so far north that it’s juveniles now can even be found in large numbers in the fjords of Spitsbergen. This is the conclusion reached by biologists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), following an expedition to this specific region of the Arctic Ocean, which used to be dominated by the Polar cod. The scientists now plan to investigate whether the two cod species compete with each other and which species can adapt more easily to the altered habitats in the Arctic.

  2. An EEA report released on 15 October 2013, has revealed that over 90% of people in urban areas are exposed to what experts consider dangerous levels of pollutants fine particles (PM2.5) and ozone. Between 2009 and 2011, up to 96 % of city dwellers were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations above WHO guidelines and up to 98 % were exposed to ozone (O3) levels above WHO guidelines.

  3. France's constitutional court has upheld a ban on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the law against the energy exploration technique known as "fracking" is a valid means of protecting the environment. The court in Paris said on its website on 11 October 2013, that the 2011 law "conforms to the constitution" and is not "disproportionate".

  4. On 10 October 2013, the Federal Republic of Germany signed the new UN Mercury Convention. At the signing ceremony, the Minamata Convention, which aims to limit mercury emissions, was signed by over 110 states including Brazil, China, South Africa, Mexico and the EU Member States. The convention aims to limit mercury emissions worldwide and thus protect humans and the environment from this highly dangerous and toxic substance. For instance, the Parties to the convention are forbidden from opening new mercury mines. The use of mercury in industry will also be dramatically restricted. Minimum standards are to be put in place for the storage and treatment of mercury containing waste. The convention also envisages a monitoring mechanism that will ensure requirements are fulfilled.

  5. The Conference for the Minamata Convention on Mercury was held on 10 and 11 October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan, with a ceremonial opening held in Minamata, Japan on 9 October 2013. At the ceremonial opening, the Government of Japan welcomed delegates and reminded them of the events which led to the recognition of the dangers of mercury poisoning. The meeting was officially opened in Kumamoto, and proceeded to adopt the text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the resolutions to be annexed to the Final Act, and then the Final Act itself. The Convention and Final Act were then opened for signature, followed by statements from attending governments and other delegates.

  6. On 9 October 2013, the European Parliament proposed that exploration and hydraulic fracturing extraction activities for non-conventional hydrocarbons should be subject to environmental impact studies, in adopting an amendment to existing EU legislation. MEPs also suggested measures to prevent conflicts of interest and to ensure that the public is informed and consulted.

  7. One of Europe's largest centers for water research is being established in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt with a workforce that includes over 500 researchers: The Center for Advanced Water Research (CAWR). The cooperation agreement was signed by representatives of the Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden, TUD) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) on 8 October 2013. Both partners see the benefits that will arise from the new Center in the channelling of existing resources, which will allow to address the global problems concerning integrated water resources management jointly.

  8. On 7 October 2013, WWF filed a complaint alleging that British oil company Soco International PLC has breached international corporate social responsibility standards. WWF contends that, in the course of Soco’s oil exploration activities in and around Virunga National Park, the company has violated environmental and human rights provisions of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

  9. Many subalpine lakes may look beautiful and even pristine, but new evidence suggests they may also be contaminated with potentially hazardous plastics. Researchers say those tiny microplastics are likely finding their way into the food web through a wide range of freshwater invertebrates too. The findings, based on studies of Italy's Lake Garda and reported on 7 October 2013, in Current Biology, suggest that the problem of plastic pollution isn't limited to the ocean. The researchers chose Lake Garda as a starting point for investigating freshwater contamination with micro- and macroplastics because they expected it to be less polluted given its subalpine location. What they found was a surprise: the numbers of microplastic particles in sediment samples from Lake Garda were similar to those found in studies of marine beach sediments.

  10. On 3 October 2013, Ecuador's parliament approved drilling for oil in Yasuni National Park. The assembly, which passed the motion by a 108 to 25 margin, said the operation would be carried out by a state oil company. The parliament passed the motion by a 108 to 25 margin.

  11. On 30 September 2013, the European Union and Indonesia signed a historic trade agreement which will contribute to halting the trade in illegal timber. Under the agreement, only verified legal timber and timber products will be exported to the EU. Indonesia is the first Asian country to enter into such an agreement, and by far the largest Asian timber exporter to the EU.

  12. On 27 September 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held a press conference in Stockholm to present the Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The Working Group I contribution to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) considers new evidence of climate change based on many independent scientific analyses from observations of the climate system, paleoclimate archives, theoretical studies of climate processes and simulations using climate models.

  13. On 19 September 2013, the Russian Coast Guard boarded the Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise and arrested the 25 activists on board following a protest against Gazprom’s Arctic oil drilling operations. At the time of the boarding, the Arctic Sunrise was circling Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform at the three nautical mile limit, inside international waters.

  14. On 19 September 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the scrapping of the remaining Fukushima nuclear reactors that survived the 2011 tsunami. Abe's order to decommission No. 5 and No. 6 came as he visited the plant to inspect the on-going problem of radiation leaks.

  15. On 19 September 2013, a ceremony was organised at Venlo to celebrate the Permanent German-Dutch Boundary Water Commission's 50th anniversary. The Commission was founded by the border treaty of 1960. The first meeting was held in December 1963 in the Dutch city of Zwolle. Transboundary waters include the rivers Vechte, Rur and Grenzaa. While activities initially focused on water quantity management with the goal of ensuring proper water flow among other things, later the Commission also began to deal with the causes and control of water pollution. The Ems-Dollart Environment Protocol of 1996 led to further cooperation in the field of water and nature conservation in the Ems estuary. The protection of water bodies as ecosystems and the Commission's contribution to implementing the relevant European Directives, for instance the Water Framework Directive, have significantly gained in importance in recent years.

  16. On 18 September 2018, Greenpeace activists staged a protest at an offshore oil drilling platform in the Russian Arctic, during which two protesters were arrested and the Russian Coast Guard fired warning shots across Greenpeace's ship, the environmental lobbying group said.

  17. On 15 September 2013, a polar bear the size of a double-decker bus marched through London along with up to 3,000 people for Greenpeace's Save the Arctic campaign. The polar bear, called Aurora, required 15 puppeteers and 20 volunteers to haul it through the streets of London. Protesters marched down Lambeth Palace Road towards Shell headquarters, on Belvedere Road, to call for a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic.

  18. Fresh legislation is urgently needed to save the European eel stock, which scientists report has declined by at least 95% in the past thirty years, says Parliament in a resolution voted on 11 September 2013. The resolution was approved by 427 votes to 249, with 25 abstentions. MEPs urge the European Commission to table a draft law by March 2014, including sanctions against EU member states that are slow to provide the data needed to assess the stock. The European eel's decline is probably due, inter alia, to overfishing, pollution, obstacles to its migration up rivers or even changing ocean currents, as eel migrate from the ocean up rivers and back again. Attempts to reproduce eel in captivity have yet to achieve commercial success.

  19. Draft legal measures to cap traditional biofuel production and accelerate the switchover to a a new generation of products from other sources, such as seaweed and or certain types of waste, were approved by the Environment Committee on 11 September 2013.

  20. On 9 September 2013 the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species. The proposal seeks to address the problem of invasive alien species in a comprehensive manner so as to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as to minimize and mitigate the human health or economic impacts that these species can have. The proposal is for three types of interventions; prevention, early warning and rapid response, and management. A list of invasive alien species of Union concern will be drawn up with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence.

  21. In September 2013 a bulk carrier is using the North West Passage as a transit trade lane, when transporting coal from Vancouver in Canada to the port of Pori in Finland via the Arctic Sea. The vessel left Vancouver on 6 September 2013, loaded with metallurgical coal and arrived at its destination in Pori, Finland, on 29 September 2013.

  22. On 4 September 2013, Japan's nuclear regulation authority said radiation readings near water storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have increased to a new high, with emissions above the ground near one group of tanks were as high as 2,200 millisieverts per hour. On 31 August 2013, the plant's operator, Tepco, said workers had measured radiation at 1,800 mSv an hour near a storage tank.

  23. On 5 September 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. and Shell Offshore, Inc. for violations of their Clean Air Act permits for arctic oil and gas exploration drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, off the North Slope of Alaska. Based on EPA’s inspections and Shell’s excess emission reports, EPA documented numerous air permit violations for Shell’s Discoverer and Kulluk drill ship fleets, during the approximately two months the vessels operated during the 2012 drilling season. In today’s settlements, Shell has agreed to pay a $710,000 penalty for violations of the Discoverer air permit and a $390,000 penalty for violations of the Kulluk air permit.

  24. On 4 September 2013, the coastal tanker Nordvik collided with ice floe in Matisen Strait, Arctic Ocean off the Russian coast. Tanker got a hole with resulting water ingress. A report by the Northern Sea Route Administration says that the Nordvik was sailing from Ob Bay to Khatanga with 4,944 tons of diesel fuel when it ran into ice in the Matisen Strait. The Nordvik sustained damage to one her ballast tanks and was taking on water, but the ingress was stopped after crews plugged the hole. The Barents Observer, citing information from the NSR Administration, reported that the vessel had permission to sail in the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea in light ice conditions and only under escort by an icebreaker.

  25. Scientists have uncovered strong evidence that soot, or black carbon, sent into the air by a rapidly industrializing Europe, likely caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in the European Alps. The research, published Sept. 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help resolve a longstanding scientific debate about why the Alps glaciers retreated beginning in the 1860s, decades before global temperatures started rising again.

  26. A team of researchers from the University of Göttingen in Germany and Yale University (USA) has presented the most comprehensive description and characterization so far of bioclimatic and physical characteristics of the world’s islands. Islands make up only five percent of the land surface of the Earth, but they are home to a disproportionately high number of plant and animal species and provide ecosystem functions and services to more than 500 million people. However, a quantitative description of the ecological conditions on islands had been lacking so far. The study published on 3 September 2013, in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences now closes this gap. The researchers investigated almost 18,000 marine islands with areas greater than one square kilometer. They also compiled ecologically important climate data and precise information about physical factors such as area, distance to the next continent and the proportion of landmass in the surroundings of each island. The researchers employed modern statistical approaches to describe, classify and map the islands based on differences in their environments. This allows the identification of islands with similar environmental settings and will facilitate further island biogeographical studies and biodiversity conservation.

  27. On 3 September 2013, Northeast German power utility WEMAG and renewables-integration specialists Younicos started construction of a battery park for the balancing of short-term power fluctuations in Schwerin, Germany.

  28. Directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the placing on the market of biocidal products was adopted in 1998. According to the Directive, Member States had to transpose the rules before 14 May 2000 into national law. The Biocidal Product Directive aims to harmonise the European market for biocidal products and their active substances. At the same time it aims to provide a high level of protection for humans, animals and the environment. The new Regulation on Biocidal products (EU) No 528/2012 was adopted on 22 May 2012, and applies from 1st September 2013. It repeals and replaces the former Directive.

  29. Tokyo Electric Power Co the operator of Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant said on 31 August 2013, it had found new radiation hotspots near tanks storing toxic water, with one reading peaking at 1,800 millisieverts per hour.

  30. On 30 August 2013 researchers at UBA moved into their new offices in 'Haus 2019' in Berlin-Marienfelde after 20 months of construction. It is the Federal Government's first zero-energy building. The goal for the model green building, which will provide a workplace for 31 people, is particularly ambitious: it is a zero-energy house which will cover its entire energy needs by itself. Energy consumption will be closely monitored. "In one year's time we will know if we have achieved our ambitious aim of showing a balanced energy budget as a result of the use of renewable energy sources and high standards in building and technology," said UBA President Jochen Flasbarth at the opening ceremony. The name 'Haus 2019' refers to the EU Directive on the energy performance of buildings. The Directive lays down the requirements for ‘nearly zero-energy buildings’. This standard will already apply for public institutions as of 2019; as of 2021 for all other buildings.

  31. A joint study from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released on 28 August 2013 found that a fracking fluid spill in Kentucky in 2007 likely caused the widespread death of several types of fish.

  32. Ocean acidification could change the ecosystems of our seas even by the end of this century. Biologists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have therefore assessed the extent of this ominous change for the first time. In a study they compiled and analysed all available data on the reaction of marine animals to ocean acidification. The scientists found that whilst the majority of animal species investigated are affected by ocean acidification, the respective impacts are very specific. The AWI-researchers presented their results as an Online Publication on 25 August 2013 in Nature Climate Change. The study of the biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute was conducted in the framework of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is intended to provide an overview of the current level of scientific knowledge on ocean acidification.

  33. On 24 August 2013, the Waldschlösschen Bridge was inaugurated with street festivities in Dresden. The first regular traffic crossed it on 26 August 2013.

  34. On 24 August 2013 Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise today entered the Northern Sea Route (NSR) off Russia’s coastline to protest against Arctic oil drilling, in defiance of Russian authorities who this week refused the ship permission to enter the area.

  35. French Energy services company Technip said on 23 August 2013, it would work on the installation of the world's deepest underwater gas pipeline for Shell, planned for the Gulf of Mexico. The field is located in the Walker Ridge area in the US Gulf of Mexico, at a water depth of approximately 2,900 meters (9,500 feet).

  36. The new provisions on electromagnetic fields and the proof procedure under telecommunications law entered into force on 22 August 2013. The ordinance amending the existing provisions has now been adopted by the Federal Government with the consent of the Bundestag and Bundesrat and contains in particular regulations on precautionary health protection.

  37. How does climate change affect the formation of ice in the Arctic marginal seas? How do the changes affect the ecosystem? And what are the large-scale consequences for the entire Arctic region and Europe eventually? These are the questions German and Russian scientists are trying to answer during an expedition to the Laptev Sea, East Siberia, which started on 22. August 2013. It is the first expedition to the Russian Arctic as part of a new German-Russian joint project, coordinated at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, and supported through Russian and German funding for three years at around 7 million euros.

  38. On 21 August 2013, the Russian government denied permission for the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise to enter the Northern Sea Route (NSR), despite the ship having fulfilled all the requirements for such an entry. Greenpeace International claims the decision is an attempt to prevent it from exposing the activities of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft. Multiple vessels contracted by Rosneft and US partner ExxonMobil are conducting seismic testing and geological work in the Kara Sea in preparation for offshore Arctic drilling.

  39. Antarctic krill are the primary food source for many species of whales, seals, penguins and fish. Krill are known to be sensitive to sea temperature, especially in the areas where they grow as adults. This has prompted scientists to try to understand how they might respond to the effects of further climate change. Using statistical models, a team of researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and Plymouth Marine Laboratory assessed the likely impact of projected temperature increases on the Weddell Sea, Scotia Sea and Southern Drake Passage, which is known for its abundance of krill. This region has experienced sea surface warming of as much as 1°C over fifty years. Projections suggest this could rise by another 1°C by the end of the 21st century. The models are based on equations which link krill growth, sea surface temperature, and food availability. An analysis of the results, published on 21 August 2013, in the online journal PLOS ONE, suggests warming, if continued, could reduce the area of growth habitat by up to 20%. The projected effects of warming are not evenly spread. The island of South Georgia is located within the area likely to be worst affected. Here the reduction in krill habitat could be as much as 55%.

  40. On 21 August 2013, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority upgraded a radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima plant to a level three "serious incident", its highest warning in two years, as the operator scrambles to contain the impact on the environment.