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EUROGEO News: Stories from Europe from 2014


News Stories from Europe in 2014

In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the monthly newsletter of the association. In this blog, posts from European news, research and policy is reviewed.

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2014 was the year of EU elections and a controversy over passports. Elections for the European Parliament took place in the summer and the geographical distribution and voting outcomes were shown in the map of Europe’s voting patterns and the results of the European Parliament elections 20142014 EU election maps

At the start of the year it was revealed that the Maltese government was offering EU passports for sale.  In this revelation, Malta planned to sell 1,800 passports for €650,000 each, before closing down this programme. Eventually, the Maltese Government was forced to give way in the face of strong European Union criticism, agreeing to require one year of residency for foreigners buying Maltese passports.

The year was one of European citizen empowerment as EU citizens forced a water debate onto agenda. This was achieved through the European citizens’ initiative whichWater citizens Initiative graphic allows millions of EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies, by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal.

Increasing citizen engagement was featured as the Green paper on Citizen Science for Europe was released Towards a society of empowered citizens & enhanced research.

The development of EU geo-clusters for energy was in the news, as they were said to play a key role in fostering innovation for energy efficient buildings. The energy campaign is being backed across Europe when it was announced that one thousand European cities were backing 2030 energy efficiency target.

A business cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. The term was introduced by Michael Porter in The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990).  The “Geo-clusters” are virtual trans-national areas where strong similarities are found (i.e. climate, culture and behaviour, construction typologies, economy, energy price and policies and gross domestic product).

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia sparked issues about the selection of of the venue (Why the site of the Olympics is not in the Alps?) and raised suggestions that the Alps will never again be able to host the Winter Olympic Games (Ten arguments against the Olympics in the Alps). EU Environmental Action graphic

In terms of policy making, the Environmental Union considers climate change, where Europe still aspires to global leadership.

The European Parliament voted for stronger climate targets and there was hope that EU climate and energy policy would be better integrated as a result of the policy recommendations from the project “climate policy integration into EU energy policy”.

The EU pledged further work on climate ‘resilience’ and to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, while the European Parliament called on the EU to ‘enforce environmental law more rigorously’.

European expansion was on the agenda as Montenegro’s future place in Europe and Ukrainians must beware of what joining Europe could actually mean were considered. Varosha - divided Cyprus image

Europe still remains internally divided for instance on the island of Cyprus, where hope was growing for the seaside town of Varosha, the tourist resort abandoned in 1974.

The resource 38 Maps that explain Europe illustrates the dramatic changes that have taken place across the continent and the transformations which are still ongoing.

The list of European stories from the EUROGEO e-newsletter is available at

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EUROGEO News: 50 Climate Change Stories from 2014


50 Climate Change News Stories from 2014

In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the monthly newsletter of the association. In this blog, news from the world of Climate Change research and policy is considered.  Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter

Do you believe in climate change or are you a sceptic? What influences our opinions? An interesting New Zealand study found geography was important as people living near the coast are more likely to believe in climate change.

The ongoing anti-science campaign continued to suggest research confirming our planet is warming is a hoax. The Blog Yes, the planet is still getting warmer and pretending it isn’t can be expensive dealt with latest claims in the light of recent research publications. Climate For Culture image

In Europe one emphasis of the Horizon 2020 programme has been to consider “What’s causing climate change?“.  The impacts of climate change are assessed in the Climate for Culture Project in terms of cultural and heritage assets in Europe. Some nations like Denmark have indicated tougher actions are necessary for tougher 2030 climate and clean energy goals.

Leading scientists continue to confirm the climate challenges we need to meet, for instance High Climate Sensitivity reported on a study by climate scientist James Hansen. His findings were i) the Earth’s was likely to warm by more than 3–4°C as a result of CO2 levels increasing to 550 ppm; action is vital as CO2 levels continue to increase and iii) burning all fossil fuels would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans, thus calling into question strategies that emphasize adaptation to climate change.

It is increasingly clear that solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change are needed as economic perspectives  force a rethink of policies around the world. This message was at the centre of the peer-reviewed findings of research into climate change economic modelling were published. In Climate change will ‘cost world far more than estimated, the financial damage caused by global warming will be considerably greater than current models predict. Clinate Economics Lord Stern image

There were developments in grassroots solutions to climate change as Indonesian indigenous groups fight climate change with GPS. The Seed of Knowledge publication provided 24 lessons learned from 17 countries on grassroots solutions to the impacts of climate change Grassroots climate change solutions. The potential of crowdsourcing is central to the Climate CoLab initiative at the Center for Collective Intelligence, MIT featured in How Millions of People Can Help Solve Climate Change.  As warnings of global climate change grew, the Guardian provided 10 tips on how to prepare for an apocalyptic future in Climate change: a survivors’ guide.

The debate whether geo-engineering can provide answers to climate change issues was raised in Climate Science: can geo-engineering save the world? Basically, the controversial question discussed is whether people can artificially control the Earth’s climate allowing us to manage temperature and avoid negative impacts of climate change? This is very controversial approach as theory.

At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 20) in Lima, the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change initiative  celebrated winning climate solution projects, including new climate finance in Latin America, climate-friendly homes in Africa, and automated flood detection systems in the Himalayan foothills in potentially innovative and transformative solutions to address climate changeCOP 2- meeting photo

The best climate change resource featured during 2014 was the Lancelot Web application which allows users to Explore Climate Data interactive map Lancelot was designed and produced by the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) to provide a highly interactive visualization of climate data on maps for many different audiences. It allows the user to select indicators and explore both historical and future projections of climate data.

2014 was a year of meetings, momentum movements, summits and conferences, where politicians, scientists and non-profits have interacted. Equality was a key message at the U.N. Climate Summit in September as Global Leaders Highlight Actions Needed to Achieve Climate Justice.

The work of critical geographers started to raising awareness of the security implications of climate change in ‘Governing from Above: Vertical geopolitics of climate change’. Vertical geopolitics image

Finally it is worth considering what has actually been achieved. In Mapping climate communication, Joanna Boehnert has attempted to visually connect the role of different organisations over two decades of climate communication, where agencies involved are classified either according to their tendency to deny or to acknowledge climate change or else they are involved in the production of climate science itself.

At the end of the day, How to rebuild trust at UN climate change talks? suggests at the Paris climate summit in 2015, countries will need to do more than just say what they are doing. To achieve a successful outcome, countries should be held accountable for doing what they say.

The list of Climate Change stories is available at

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EUROGEO News Highlights 2014 – part 3

EUROGEO logoIn 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is one of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the association monthly newsletter. Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter

EUROGEO News Highlights 2014 (November-December)

The new newsletter design was launched in November 2014, with the first Call of the 2015 meeting and conference to be held in Ankara. The new newsletter provided access to a large collection of geo-news from social media, newspapers and the latest geographical research. There were news items on Climate, Environment, Human, Economic and Physical Geography.

during the month, issue 3 of the European Journal of Geography was published with seven peer reviewed articles on historical analysis, wildfire risk assessment, location analysis, social perception, communicating climate change, catchment approaches and tourism in Belgrade.  new newsletter design image

EUROGEO participated in the Geo- World record event, promoting and participating in activities. Geo- World Record Event. Many schools signed up for the biggest school geography investigation of its type in the world which took place during Geography Awareness Week 17-21 November! More than 20,000 students took part adding data to the World Record GIS map during that week. Teachers were able to use lots of teaching resources and ideas provided by the initiative. Support for data analysis with ArcGIS Online was provided by a series of videos and teacher resources.

In December the newsletter highlighted the contribution of EUROGEO to NGO activities as part of the COP 20 event in Lima, Peru. A position statement was developed on Climate Change and Human Rights and finalised and launched on Human Rights Day Geneva, 10 December 2014. Promotion and awareness raising was undertaken through social media.

EUROGEO has been involved in many projects during 2014. The December newsletter highlighted the meeting of the GeoCapabilities Project team, who  launched a teacher survey to identify where Geography teachers go to for Geography support. The results of this will be announced in 2015. The first major publication of the GI-N2K project was announced. This is a report on the demand and supply of GI education and training in 25 countries.COP20 graphic

Finally we were able to report the excellent news that the Bulgarian Geographic Society, founded in 1918, has restarted. Looking forward now to 2015!

The 2014 EUROGEO newsletters are available at

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EUROGEO News: 50 “Hazards” Stories from 2014


50 Hazards News Stories from 2014

In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at the newsletter posts in 2014 highlighting some links examining different natural hazards. Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter

Extreme flooding across southern parts of the UK dominated “hazards” news stories early in the year, including the long-term devastation in the south west UK (Somerset levels).  There were interesting articles on the negative impact of dredging rivers in stopping floods and the role of the Thames barrier.  There was reflection on the sensible medieval town & abbey development decisions of our ancestors in the aerial photos of Tewkesbury at flood time and experiments in escaping floods as defenders go back to nature to keep vulnerable homes dry. The importance of open data was highlighted in USGS Flood data resources and Alert notification services. Antarctic iceberg image

Controversy and concern was raised in earthquake studies, as “predictions” and pattern recognition are attempted and deadly flaws were found in earthquake hazards map research. Predicting earthquakes is simply too difficult as the Guardian explains why seismologists have a mountain to climb. The number of big earthquakes doubled in 2014, but scientists say they’re not linked and Chile was said to be long overdue For ‘The Big One‘.

Many other different types of hazards were featured, tornadoes, permafrost, lightening strikes, Antarctic icebergs, the Luisi mud volcano and Louisiana sinkholes. Also reported was a colossal dust storm in China and immense plague of locusts in Madagascar and a glacial outburst flood in Skafta, Iceland.

The critical use of GIS in hazard mitigation was explained in How geoinformation services can help in disasters. and also in Mapping the California Drought with Open Data. Crowd mapping was featured in Helping the Red Cross in the Philippines. Remote sensing was important in Taking the ‘pulse’ of volcanoes using satellite images and the role of High-Resolution Imagery and GIS in Flood Relief Efforts in Colorado. Sentinel-1 was aiding the response to the Namibian floods.real-time lightening map

All 50 selected Hazards Geography stories are  available at

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EUROGEO News: 50 Physical Geography Stories from 2014

50 Physical Geography News Stories from 2014EUROGEO 35 year logo

In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the monthly newsletter of the association. Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter

With the intense cold air over North America at the start of 2014, there were many stories related to the “Polar Vortex” ( and the deep freeze over North America The controversy continues about trying to understand the planet and whether extreme conditions like this are being increasd because of greenhouse gases.

The discovery of a massive ancient trench under Antarctica, carved millions of years ago by a small ice field, also hit the news early in the year. Other stories about the continent related to the Pine Island glacier rift, which according to research expanded throughout 2013, leading to possible calving of a large iceberg in the future and the ‘irreversible’ nature of the glacier retreat there, reported by BBC News.gravity sensing

Studies and published research on the current and recent rates of glacial retreat continued throughout the year, for instance as evidenced on a YouTube video of Glacier retreat, the Disappearing glaciers summary and Disappearing Glaciers Storymap. Meanwhile Peru, home to 70% of world’s tropical glaciers, confirmed their glaciers have shrunk by almost half in the past 40 years. The announcement that an inventory of all the worlds glaciers has been completed, with details of more than 200,000 glaciers is very welcome.

The examination of palaeoclimates and ecosystem changes has also been chronicled, through ocean sediment analysiscosmogenic 10Be dating in Scotland, ice cores from Antarcticausing moss banks , gravity sensing and radioactive dating techniques.  

The role of physical geography studies assisting planning dilemmas was highlighted in using snow sensing to predict water shortages, as part of the Stiffkey, UK Catchment Plan and the discussion whether coastal Britain should surrender to the tides? goce ocean circulation graphic

The uses of satellite technologies as well as open data was described in Taking Earth’s Temperature from Space and from the Sentinel mission . Older technology was described in a Glaciers message in a bottle. Open data products have been made available from CryoSat-2 for Ice and Oceans and via a
collection of USGS topographic maps.

In 2014 researchers also reported on the discovery of a massive ocean near earths core and the most accurate space view of the ocean circulation, the Goce gravity map of global ocean currents and the speed at which they move.

The 2014 Physical Geography stories are  available at

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EUROGEO News Highlights 2014 – part 2

EUROGEO logoIn 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the fourth of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the association monthly newsletter. Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter

EUROGEO News Highlights 2014 (May-August)

In May the Annual meeting of the EUROGEO association took place during the Annual conference in Valetta, Malta. More than 200 papers and posters were presented as Geographers from more than 40 countries gathered in Valetta, Malta for the EUROGEO conference on the theme “The Power of Geography and the Role of Spatial Information”. I was really delighted to participate in a special session to celebrate 35 years of EUROGEO which also looked to the future of the association and the role it plays in promoting Geography. See the EUROGEO timeline

The work of EUROGEO in the Council of Europe was highlighted through the working group called ‘Living Together’.  The aim of the Council of Europe initiative is to develop an accountable, dynamic society that recognises its place in the world and focuses on the active responsibility we must take in living together peacefully, in harmony and respect for one another and the environment. Living Together at the Council of EuropeCouncil of Europe image

In May I attended the GeoSpatial World Forum in Geneva, where EUROGEO in collaboration with Z_GIS Salzburg University was presented with a Geospatial Policy Implementation Award at the Geospatial World Forum for activities on the EC funded project. I received the award on behalf of the project at the event.

At the June meeting of the Council of Europe, I was elected Vice President of the Commission on Democracy Social Cohesion and Global Challenges in the Council of Europe Conference of INGOs. EUROGEO has been a member of the Council since 1987 and has continuously been present and represented there. The INGOs meet in Strasbourg at the same time as the Parliamentary Assembly.

In July we participated in the pilot workshop for the SPACIT “Spatial Citizenship” Project. This is co-funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) to equip teachers with the learning tools necessary to support active participation of young citizens in the decision-making processes of their communities. This is achieved by using geo-media, such aGeoSpatial World Forum Awards images digital maps and digital information shared through social media.

The project has since completed the training materials, which are available for downlod from the Project Web site.

EUROGEO participated in the EASSH (Social Science and Humanities) meeting, attended by more than 70 European and international associations from all thematic areas. The aim of EASSH is to voice publicly the best interests of European social science and humanities. EUROGEO members are involved in the organization and Steering group. See for more information.

The 2014 EUROGEO newsletters are available at

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EUROGEO News: 50 Environmental Stories from 2014


50 Environment News Stories from 2014

In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the monthly newsletter of the association. This blog explores some of the environmental geography stories. Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter

A number of  articles in 2014 related to the adoption of environmental policy and subsequent decision making  - at the local, national or even international scales. Lobbying involves giving views and information to decision-makers in order to influence them toward the action you want.Citizen Empowerment image

The article Whose role is it to lobby? considered the delicate position of scientists in advocating particular policies. To whom should ‘scientific’ messages be addressed and what the appropriate level to deal with  concerns?

The scale of environmental issues and role of transnational organisations was highlighted in Connect green revolution science to the UN and World Urban forum - Finding a place for cities in the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goals”.

The positive nature of decision making was featured in EU to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030Global leaders tackle growing strain on natural resources and the 6 Lessons Brazilian Cities Learned from Greenhouse Gas Inventories. But the restrictive nature of political actions in preventing the publication of scientific results came to light in Scientist silencing in Canada continues for federally-funded research, as responsible, ethical approaches are called for. UN Sustainable development image

The relationships between citizen participation, empowerment and environmental issues were raised as new geo-media tools were developed in Europe (Help tackle European marine litter problem by collecting data with the EEA app) and in China (Chinese environmental group develops app to shame air polluting factories). Perhaps these provide models for the future of engagement in the processes of democratic participation in a broad range of environmental issues.

Stories dealt with the complexity of specific environmental problems, for instance the future production  of fossil fuels where Germany plans to bulldoze towns for brown coal and Poland hosts both the UN climate change conference AND an international coal summit, where research confirms Black carbon is worse for global warming than previously thought.Energy production Poland image

Important messages were given about the potential of the oceans (Seas and oceans can provide solutions to ‘societal challenges’) and environmental impacts of plastic (Choking the Oceans With Plastic). Analysis of the problems and likely future perspectives are alarming (What are the sources and impacts of marine litter?) as more than a trillion bits of plastic may be released into the ocean over the next 10 years. It is clear that educating about our oceans has never been so important (How our oceans are creeping back into geography classrooms).

Environmental pollution in Chinese cities featured strongly in several news items especially in Urbanization and catastrophic levels of pollution, Beijing is so smoggy China now televises sunrises on giant TV screens and China faces $176bn bill to clean up air pollution. The question about whether the impact of policy can reduce pollution was raised in Can China’s Air Pollution Action Plan Slow Down New Coal Power Development?. Does development have to go hand in hand with increased pollution?

Reporting on the environment is increasingly related to technological advances that lead to socially acceptable innovative paths towards sustainability. Monitoring and measuring impact was described in Mapping Calgary’s Wasted Heat and in mitigation as Brazil uses satellite imagery to reduce illegal deforestationSatellite imagery

Several articles considered environmental innovation in developing new products, efficiencies or process design, focusing  on the technological aspects, for instance in India (building solar canals to produce energy while slowing water loss), the Sahel region (learning to reap benefits of shade) and the River Severn, UK (Balanced Technology Approach to Energy).

Live data and real-time science was featured in Air pollution around the world mapped by city and Lifemapper shows where Earths organisms live today and might go tomorrow.

An awareness of the environmental consequences of potential social, economic, and technological changes was a regular feature in 2014, especially in making an effort to anticipate future environmental issues and plan strategically to avoid problems, rather than responding to them after the fact.Antarctic science image

Forward-looking perspectives, considering future actions and planning for an uncertain environmental future included environmental legacy (Brazil has world’s weirdest carbon footprint but the future is uncertain), energy debates (The future offshore is wind), rainforest (Can oil save the Ecuador rainforest?), climate (Scientists and aid experts plan for a warmer future) and Antarctica (Six Priorities for Antarctic science).

All 50 selected Environmental Geography stories are  available at

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EUROGEO News Highlights 2014 – part 1


Happy 2015.

In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the second of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the association monthly newsletter. Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter

EUROGEO News Highlights 2014 (January-April)

In January EUROGEO joined the “Open Geo foe All” initiative. Its goal, by combining the potential of e-learning tools and open source geospatial software, is to strengthen education in GIScience by covering open source, open standards, and open data in geospatial technology. You can find out more about how to participate at

EUROGEO also started a new EU funded, careers-based project called GeoSkills Plus.  This vocational education and training (VET) project supported as a Transfer of Innovation project under the Leonardo programme aims transfer geospatial VET innovation and expertise from Dutch institutions to meet labour market needs in three other countries (Belgium, Bulgaria and Lithuania).GeoSlills Plus Project

Our role in the project has been to to raise awareness, promote and disseminate the outcomes of GeoSkills Plus. Attendance at a number of expert meetings, events and conferences has led to interest and involvement of varied stakeholders. You can find out more by visiting the GeoSkills Plus Web site and following the project on Facebook or via Twitter. We have since developed a GeoSkills Plus blog with latest news, information and products.

The February newsletter contained information about the involvement of EUROGEO as a stakeholder in the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) initiative called “EyeonEarth”. Stakeholder organisations from around the world are examining the importance of open data and geoinformation issues concerning themes like disaster reduction, environmental education, oceans and blue carbon. A series of pilot projects have been supported to raise awareness of the critical role of geoinformation. The next summit for EyeonEarth will take place in November 2015. Find out more at initiative image

In March and April the newsletter reported on activities with the International Geographic Union (IGU) following the publication of a Rome Declaration on geographical education signed by EUGEO, the Association of European Geographical Societies, AIIG, the Italian Association of Geography Teachers, EUROGEO, the association of European Geographers, and the IGU. Meetings were then held to initiate a discussion developing a “roadmap” for Geography and geographical education. This would be undertaken by jointly develop projects to increase the profile of the discipline among important stakeholders, improve the connection between academic geography and geographical education, exchange good practices, develop a research agenda for geographical education, to establish guidelines and recommendations for ‘geographical literacy’ and build a strong professional networking structure.

The 2014 EUROGEO newsletters are available at

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EUROGEO News: 50 Human Geography Stories from 2014


50 Human Geography News Stories from 2014

In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the monthly newsletter of the association. Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter

Mega cities was a theme featured in the article on the era of the ‘endless city‘, a blog about sustainable cities from the Innovative Metropolis conference, reflecting on the importance of infrastructure, the social implications of such urban sprawl are commented on together with visions and planning for the future.

In Europe, the new Social Atlas of Europe was launched in August, with new visualizations on a range of topics, including values, culture, education, employment, well-being, social inequalities and cohesion. You can browse through the map collection at geography map

The Climate for Culture Project came to a close, looking at the potential impact of climate change on Europe’s cultural heritage assets – particularly on historic buildings and their interiors. It examined adaptation to preserve these cultural and heritage assets in Europe.

Research concerning the important role of maps and mapping was outlined in the Cartography Of Geopolitical Chaos with concerns raised over Who Owns the Arctic and modern-day land grabbing described in the New Scramble for Africa.

Several  articles provided glimpses into the future, for example in Thanet Earth the farm of the future, modernisation of agriculture is taken to an extreme, though critics question its sustainability.

Africa land grabbing Cities, smart and less smart were a frequent theme of news items throughout the year with analyses on technology potential and entrepreneurial capability featured in the Directions Magazine Blog. The Future Cities: Pocket Drones,

Bioinspired Designs & Smart Citizens reviewed the Future Cities conference and examined some of the possible breakthrough innovations that might impact on creating sustainable, intelligent and efficient future cities.

All 50 selected Human Geography stories are  available at

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