Policy / Systems / Technology

May 13, 2017


Japanese Institute Develops Environmental Impact Evaluation System for East Asia

Keywords: Ecosystems / Biodiversity Environmental Technology 

Image by Robert_z_Ziemi.

The National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan (NIES) announced on December 19, 2016, that it had published a NIES Research Project Report on the "East Asian Environmental Research Program" (priority research program) for FY2011 to FY2015. Under this program, projections were made for the future environment of East Asia using a multi-scale model that integrates three models (atmospheric, terrestrial, and oceanic) and involves various pollution media (polluting substances and contributing factors). The research provided new insight by quantitatively evaluating the environmental impacts of various measures to prevent atmospheric and terrestrial pollution.

In the East Asian region, environmental problems have been increasing along with rapid economic growth, and they have affected Japan in tangible ways, including regional trans-boundary pollution. The research program investigated the actual status and mechanisms of atmospheric and marine pollution, which are typical environmental problems in the region, by integrating observations and simulations to build a system that quantitatively evaluates the relationship between environmental impacts and the responses.

In air pollution research, multi-scale observations were implemented (from the hemispheric scale to the Northeast Asian regional and city scales). Based on the results, air-quality models were improved to reproduce the current air pollution trends. The research also looked into the impacts of ozone on plants, impacts of particulate matter on human health, and levels of contribution of Japan and other countries to air pollution.

In marine pollution research, a model was developed to predict pollution loads based on observations along the basin of the Yangtze River in China. The continental shelf ecosystem was also studied based on the observations in the East China Sea and laboratory experiments. A model was then developed to predict the marine environment's responses to pollution loads from terrestrial sources.

In collaboration with the Center for Social and Environmental Systems Research (also based at NIES), scenarios were then developed for emissions dynamics of air and water pollution substances, looking at the near future (up to around 2030). Using methods developed in this research program, the effectiveness of measures (including the measures to prevent atmospheric and terrestrial pollution) to protect the environment in East Asia was evaluated quantitatively. The multi-scale model integrates three models (atmosphere, terrestrial, and marine) and makes use of various pollution media.

For the development of sustainable society and to address trans-boundary pollution in the East Asia region, strategies are needed to develop bilateral or multilateral frameworks. However, until now there has not been a sufficient effort to develop and utilize scientific methods to evaluate the quantitative relationships between regional pollution and environmental impacts of human activities. That kind of information is an essential foundation for such strategies.

The results of this research program will be useful for discussions about integrated measures for integrated management of the atmospheric, terrestrial, and marine environments in East Asia.