OD Natural Environment




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News - Aerial Surveys over the North Sea in 2019

Framed in the national aerial survey programme, the scientific service MUMM performed a total of 246 flight hours over the North Sea in 2019. This contribution lists the most important results, with focus on the core tasks: surveillance of marine pollution and monitoring of the marine environment. Thirteen cases of operational discharges by ships have been observed, and suspect sulphur values have been measured in the smoke plumes of 51 vessels.

News - Falcons for Everyone 2020

Nature and its lifecycles enter our houses and our day to day lives, during this strange period of confinement …

Falcons for Everyone is back! As of today, you can follow the daily lives of two falcon families in Brussels live: watch as the couples hatch, when the chicks come out of their egg and when they finally fly out of the nest.

News - First Launch of the New Research Vessel Belgica

The future Belgian research vessel Belgica was launched for the first time on 11 February 2020 from the Freire Shipyard in Vigo, Spain. An important milestone following the keel laying, the equivalent of the laying of the foundation stone of a building, just under a year ago. The ceremony took place in the presence of the various project partners: the shipyard, the Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO), Defence and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS). Now the ship will be further finished and provided with all the necessary equipment.

News - Minke whale in Belgian waters on 10 November 2019

Big surprise on Sunday 10 November in one of the wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea: maintenance technicians observe a whale and can make a short video before the animal disappears under water. The images are delivered to RBINS: it turns out to be a minke whale. A rarity of which only five other cases from Belgian waters are known from the past 20 years. Only two of these earlier cases concerned live animals.

News - New method allows processing of 4 decades of satellite data

Over the past four decades, different satellites have been circling Earth whilst collecting numerous data. However, technology evolved during this time, creating the need for a unified processing method. A newly developed algorithm and software now make it possible to consistently process all these data and obtain unified image series for parameters such as water reflectance and turbidity.

NEWS - Summer Exhibition 'Kijk, een Walvis (Look, a Whale)' in De Haan

From 1 July to 31 August 2019, the summer exhibition 'Kijk, een walvis (Look, a whale)' will take place in the community centre 't Schelpestik in De Haan (Vosseslag 131, 8420 De Haan). The local stranding of the whale Antonius in October 2018 triggered the initiative, and several skeletal parts of this impressive animal have since returned to De Haan to form the backbone of the exhibition.

News - The new research vessel will honour the Belgian tradition and sail the seas as ‘RV Belgica II’

On 6 November 2018, the Cabinet of Science Policy launched a competition to determine the name of the new Belgian research vessel. After a first phase, in which schools could suggest names, and a second phase, in which everyone could choose from six remaining proposals, the Minister for Science Policy announced the final winner on 25 April 2019. The public chose convincingly to honour the history of Belgian marine sciences and research ships, and to send the new ship out to sea under the name Belgica II!

News - How Healthy is our North Sea?

The main objective of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is to achieve 'good environmental status' in the marine environment of all EU member states by 2020. Following the publication of a first assessment of the Belgian marine waters in 2012, 2018 is the next reporting year. The main conclusion of the current assessment is that the desired 'good environmental status' has not yet been achieved in the Belgian part of the North Sea. However, a positive evolution is observed for various elements.

News - Bushmeat in Brussels

NEWS - Belgian Coast Guard Leading in the International Fight against Air Pollution above the Sea

Since 2016, a so-called 'sniffer' sensor has been used onboard the Belgian Coast Guard aircraft to check for environmental and nautical violations. This sensor allows the sulfur content in the fuel to be derived on the basis of measurements made in the emissions of ships above the sea. This method not only enables more efficient monitoring of aspects of air quality over the sea, but also allows identification of potential offenders. In this context, international attention is increasingly directed at the Belgian example.


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