Breath-taking and waterproof: environmental monitoring in Estonia

Local news, 30.07.2014

Thanks to a Swiss contribution totalling CHF 8.5 million, Estonian laboratories and environmental monitoring stations are able to procure modern equipment and train their staff. During project visits, Estonian experts demonstrated their ability to reliably monitor air and water quality across large areas with their new equipment.

Researchers with echo-sounder on the Estonian research vessel "Salme".
Estonian experts demonstrate the new environmental monitoring devices. Arno Mikkor NCU

To be able to fulfil the requirements of the EU Air Quality Directive and the EU Water Framework Directive, Estonia must have reliable environmental data. Until recently, Estonia often had to procure expensive chemical analyses abroad. Switzerland is now equipping Estonian laboratories and environmental monitoring stations with modern measurement and analysis devices. Most of the equipment has already been delivered and the first training workshops have already taken place. During on-site project visits, a Swiss delegation was given the opportunity to see the benefit of the new devices for itself.

Switzerland supports Estonia in conducting fine particulate measurements

The white bus on the car park in Tallinn looked fairly unimpressive at first glance but a closer look inside revealed an array of high-tech devices financed by Switzerland. The great advantage of the mobile lab is that it provides measurement data on fine particulate pollution in real time, explained a member of the Estonian Environmental Research Centre to the Swiss delegation. The data enable experts to determine the origin of fine particulate pollution, making it possible to develop targeted action plans against air pollution in urban areas. The Swiss contribution not only funds new equipment, but also makes possible the sharing of experiences between particulate matter experts from Estonia and Switzerland. For example, in collaboration with the Swiss Paul Scherrer Institute, the Estonian Environmental Research Centre has carried out comparative measurements for research purposes.

Researchers lower a side-scan sonar into the sea.
Monitoring the development of sediment in the coastal region makes it possible to take measures to mitigate risks associated with climate change. © Arno Mikkor (photographer), National Coordination Unit, Estonia

Protecting the Baltic Sea

During a trip on the research vessel "Salme", the Swiss delegation was also able to gain insight into Estonian water monitoring procedures. Using funds from the enlargement contribution, the researchers were able to purchase devices to monitor the sediment development in the coastal region and the quality of seawater. The data collected in this way are used as a basis for appropriate water-protection measures.

Project visits showed that the implementation of the environmental monitoring programme is on the right track. Savings in the projects have made it possible to procure additional devices in the next few months. The aim is to increase the speed of data collection by an average of 60% and to reduce data retrieval costs by 40%.

A researcher explains seawater measurement graphs on a computer.
Measurements at sea are necessary for effective water protection measures. © Arno Mikkor (photographer), National Coordination Unit, Estonia

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