Special Issue "Feature Papers in Environments in 2020"

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Yu-Pin Lin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
Interests: ecological hydrology monitoring and modeling in drainage basin; global change- land use modeling; landscape ecology; system dynamic modeling of wetlands; spatial analysis and modeling; blockchain; spatial dynamic modeling
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As Editor-in-Chief of Environments, I am pleased to announce this Special Issue, entitled “Feature Papers in Environments in 2020”. This Special Issue will be a collection of high-quality reviews and original papers from editorial board members, guest editors, and leading researchers, discussing new knowledge or new cutting-edge developments in the science of environments in 2020.

Prof. Dr. Yu-Pin Lin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • innovation environmental technology
  • smart environmental management
  • environmental policy
  • transdisciplinary approach

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
A New Approach to Mapping Cultural Ecosystem Services
Environments 2021, 8(6), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8060056 - 15 Jun 2021
Viewed by 238
Abstract
According to various sources, Southern Morocco has stood out as an outstanding tourist destination in recent decades, with global appeal. Dakhla City, including Dakhla Bay, classified by the Convention on Wetlands in 2005 as a Wetland of International Importance, offers visitors various entertainment [...] Read more.
According to various sources, Southern Morocco has stood out as an outstanding tourist destination in recent decades, with global appeal. Dakhla City, including Dakhla Bay, classified by the Convention on Wetlands in 2005 as a Wetland of International Importance, offers visitors various entertainment opportunities at many city sites. Therefore, human activity and social benefits should be considered in conjunction with the need to safeguard the ecosystems and maintain the Ecosystem Services (ES). This study aims to provide an overview of the tourism dynamics and hotspots related to cultural ecosystem services in Dakhla Bay. The landscape attributes are used along with an InVEST model to detect the distribution of preferences for the Cultural Ecosystem Services (CESs), map the hotspots, and identify the spatial correlations between features such as the landscape and visiting rate to understand which elements of nature attract people to the locations around the study area. Geotagged photos posted to the Flickr™ website between 2005 and 2017 were used to approximate the number of tourist visits. The results showed that tourism suffered several dips in 2005–2017 and that tourist visits are currently rising. Additionally, an estimated annual tourist visit rate shows that tourism in Dakhla Bay has been growing steadily by 2%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Article
Classification of Noise Sources for Port Area Noise Mapping
Environments 2021, 8(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8020012 - 09 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1006
Abstract
Maritime transportation is recognized to have advantages in terms of environmental impact compared to other forms of transportation. However, an increment in traffic volumes will also produce an increase in noise emissions in the surroundings for a greener source, as ports are frequently [...] Read more.
Maritime transportation is recognized to have advantages in terms of environmental impact compared to other forms of transportation. However, an increment in traffic volumes will also produce an increase in noise emissions in the surroundings for a greener source, as ports are frequently surrounded by urban areas. When more sources or higher noise emissions are introduced, the noise exposure of citizens increases, and the likelihood of official complaints rises. As a consequence, among the most demanding aspects of port management is effective noise management aimed at a reduction in the exposure of citizens while ensuring the growth of maritime traffic. At the same time, the topic has not been thoroughly studied by the scientific community, mostly because port areas are challenging from a noise management point of view; they are often characterized by a high degree of complexity, both in terms of the number of different noise sources and their interaction with the other main transportation infrastructure. Therefore, an effective methodology of noise modeling of the port area is currently missing. With regard to the INTERREG Maritime Program, the present paper reports a first attempt to define noise mapping guidelines. On the basis of the current state-of-the-art and the authors’ experiences, noise sources inside port areas can be divided into several different categories: road sources, railway sources, ship sources, port sources, and industrial sources. A further subdivision can be achieved according to the working operation mode and position of the sources. This classification simplifies actions of identification of the responsible source from control bodies, in the case that noise limits are exceeded or citizen complaints arise. It also represents a necessary tool to identify the best placing of medium/long-term noise monitoring stations. The results also act as a base for a future definition of specific and targeted procedures for the acoustic characterization of port noise sources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Article
Factors Affecting Alkali Activation of Laterite Acid Leaching Residues
Environments 2021, 8(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8010004 - 10 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 849
Abstract
In this experimental study, the alkali activation of acid leaching residues using a mixture of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and alkaline sodium silicate solution (Na2SiO3) as activators is investigated. The residues were also calcined at 800 and 1000 °C for [...] Read more.
In this experimental study, the alkali activation of acid leaching residues using a mixture of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and alkaline sodium silicate solution (Na2SiO3) as activators is investigated. The residues were also calcined at 800 and 1000 °C for 2 h or mixed with metakaolin (MK) in order to increase their reactivity. The effect of several parameters, namely the H2O/Na2O and SiO2/Na2O ratios present in the activating solution, the pre–curing time (4–24 h), the curing temperature (40–80 °C), the curing time (24 or 48 h), and the ageing period (7–28 days) on the properties of the produced alkali activated materials (AAMs), including compressive strength, porosity, water absorption, and density, was explored. Analytical techniques, namely X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and elemental mapping analysis were used for the identification of the morphology and structure of the final products. The experimental results show that the laterite acid leaching residues cannot be alkali activated in an unaltered state, and the compressive strength of the produced AAMs barely reaches 1.4 MPa, while the mixing of the residues with 10 wt% metakaolin results in noticeably higher compressive strength (41 MPa). Moreover, the calcination of residues at 800 and 1000 °C has practically no beneficial effect on alkali activation. Alkali activated materials produced under the optimum synthesis conditions were subjected to high temperature firing for 2 h and immersed in distilled water or acidic solution (1 mol L−1 HCl) for 7 and 30 days in order to assess their structural integrity under different environmental conditions. This study explores the potential of alkali activation of laterite leaching residues amended with the addition of metakaolin for the production of AAMS that can be used as binders or in several construction applications in order to enable their valorization and also improve the environmental sustainability of the metallurgical sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Article
Proton Competition and Free Ion Activities Drive Cadmium, Copper, and Nickel Accumulation in River Biofilms in a Nordic Ecosystem
Environments 2020, 7(12), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7120112 - 15 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 804
Abstract
Biofilms can be used as a biomonitoring tool to determine metal bioavailability in streams affected by mining and other anthropogenic activities. Surface water and biofilm were sampled over two years from rivers located in the vicinity of a mine located in a Nordic [...] Read more.
Biofilms can be used as a biomonitoring tool to determine metal bioavailability in streams affected by mining and other anthropogenic activities. Surface water and biofilm were sampled over two years from rivers located in the vicinity of a mine located in a Nordic ecosystem (Nunavik, Quebec). Biofilm metal content (Cd, Cu, and Ni) as well as a variety of physicochemical properties were determined to examine relationships between metal accumulation and water quality. Among the three metals of interest, copper and nickel had the highest levels of accumulation and cadmium had the lowest. When considering the exposure levels, nickel was the most abundant metal in our sampling sites. Both exposure and accumulation levels were consistent over time. Biofilm metal content was highly correlated to the ambient free metal ion concentration for sites of circumneutral pHs for all three metals. When the surface water pH was below 6, biofilm metal content was much lower than at other sites with similar aqueous metal concentrations of exposure. This apparent protective effect of decreasing pH can be explained by proton competition with dissolved metals for uptake binding sites at the surface of the organisms within the biofilm as described by the Biotic Ligand Model principles. The relationships obtained for Cd and Cu were overlapping those observed in previous publications, indicating strong similarities in metal accumulation processes in biofilms over very large geographical areas. Although more data are needed for Ni, our results show that biofilms represent a promising metal biomonitoring tool. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Article
Structural Assessment of Reinforced Concrete Beams Incorporating Waste Plastic Straws
Environments 2020, 7(11), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7110096 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1021
Abstract
The behavior of reinforced concrete beams containing fibers made of waste plastic straws (WPSs) under the three point bending test is examined. The effect of WPS fiber addition on the compressive and split tensile strength is reported. Four concrete mixes were prepared. The [...] Read more.
The behavior of reinforced concrete beams containing fibers made of waste plastic straws (WPSs) under the three point bending test is examined. The effect of WPS fiber addition on the compressive and split tensile strength is reported. Four concrete mixes were prepared. The control mix PS-0 had a proportion of 1 cement: 1 sand: 2 coarse aggregate and a water cement ratio of 0.4. In the other three mixes PS-0.5, PS-1.5 and PS-3, 0%, 0.5%, 1.5% and 3% of WPS fiber (by volume) was added respectively. The results show that at 0.5% WPS, there is slight increase in compressive strength. However, beyond 0.5% addition, a decrease in compressive strength is observed. The split tensile strength shows a systematic increase with the addition of WPS fibers. The reinforced concrete beams containing WPS fibers show higher ductility as demonstrated by the larger ultimate tensile strain and ductility index (Δu/Δy). There is a tendency to have more fine cracks with the presence of WPS fibers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Article
Lead Complexation by Humic Acids and Their Analogs: A Voltammetric Study
Environments 2020, 7(11), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7110094 - 26 Oct 2020
Viewed by 957
Abstract
Differential pulse polarography (DPP) was used to assess the interaction of Pb2+ with various humic acid analogs and several humic acids. DPP analysis demonstrated that the reduction peak maximum (Ep) for Pb2+ shifted to more negative values in the [...] Read more.
Differential pulse polarography (DPP) was used to assess the interaction of Pb2+ with various humic acid analogs and several humic acids. DPP analysis demonstrated that the reduction peak maximum (Ep) for Pb2+ shifted to more negative values in the presence of humic acids and humic acid analogs. The observed Ep for Pb2+ in the presence of humic acids and humic acid analogs is influenced by ligand concentration, solution pH and Pb2+ concentration. Shifts in the Ep for Pb2+ are related to the reduction potential and can be rationalized using the Lingane equation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Article
Spatiotemporal Evaluation of PM10 Concentrations within the Greater Athens Area, Greece. Trends, Variability and Analysis of a 19 Years Data Series
Environments 2020, 7(10), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7100085 - 06 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 997
Abstract
This work investigates the spatiotemporal variation of suspended particles with aerodynamic diameter less than or equal to 10 μm (PM10) during a nineteen years period. Mean daily PM10 concentrations between 2001 and 2018, from five monitoring stations within the greater [...] Read more.
This work investigates the spatiotemporal variation of suspended particles with aerodynamic diameter less than or equal to 10 μm (PM10) during a nineteen years period. Mean daily PM10 concentrations between 2001 and 2018, from five monitoring stations within the greater Athens area (GAA) are used. The aim is to investigate the impact of the economic crisis and the actions taken by the Greek state over the past decade on the distribution of PM10 within the GAA. Seasonality, intraweek, intraday and spatial variations of the PM10 concentrations as well as trends of data, are statistically studied. The work may assist the formation of PM10 forecasting models of hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual horizon. Innovations are alternative ways of statistical treatment and the extended period of data, which, importantly, includes major economic and social events for the GAA. Significant decreasing trend in PM10 series concentrations at all examined stations were found. This may be due to economic and social reasons but also due to measures taken by the state so as to be harmonised with the European Directives concerning the protection of public health and the atmospheric environment of the European Union (EU) members. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Article
Macromolecular Structure of a Commercial Humic Acid Sample
Environments 2020, 7(4), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7040032 - 15 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2003
Abstract
The molecular structure of a commercial sample of humic acids (HA) was investigated by membrane dialysis experiments (MD) and low-pressure size-exclusion chromatography (LP-SEC). MD showed that HA molecules were retained by dialysis membrane with a cut-off of 6–8 kDa, independently from HA concentration [...] Read more.
The molecular structure of a commercial sample of humic acids (HA) was investigated by membrane dialysis experiments (MD) and low-pressure size-exclusion chromatography (LP-SEC). MD showed that HA molecules were retained by dialysis membrane with a cut-off of 6–8 kDa, independently from HA concentration (15 or 150 mg L−1), NaHCO3 concentration (0.005–2.0 mol L−1), and from propan 2-ol (0–5 v/v %). SEC experiments at low pressure gave chromatograms with a broad peak, with an elution volume between those of the globular proteins bovine serum albumin (molecular weight = 66.5 kDa) and lysozyme from egg (molecular weight = 14.4 kDa). The pattern of the chromatogram did not vary with HA concentration, and second-run chromatograms of single eluted fractions showed relatively sharp peaks. From these data, we reveal that the commercial HA sample analysed has a macromolecular structure rather than being a supramolecular aggregate of relatively small molecules, as recently proposed for some samples of HA obtained from different sources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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Review

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Review
Microplastic Contamination in Freshwater Environments: A Review, Focusing on Interactions with Sediments and Benthic Organisms
Environments 2020, 7(4), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments7040030 - 12 Apr 2020
Cited by 39 | Viewed by 4699
Abstract
Plastic is one of the most commonly produced and used materials in the world due to its outstanding features. However, the worldwide use of plastics and poor waste management have led to negative impacts on ecosystems. Plastic degradation in the environment leads to [...] Read more.
Plastic is one of the most commonly produced and used materials in the world due to its outstanding features. However, the worldwide use of plastics and poor waste management have led to negative impacts on ecosystems. Plastic degradation in the environment leads to the generation of plastic particles with a size of <5 mm, which are defined as microplastics (MPs). These represent a global concern due to their wide dispersion in water environments and unclear potential ecotoxicological effects. Different studies have been performed with the aim of evaluating the presence and impacts of MPs in the marine environment. However, the presence of MPs in freshwater systems is still poorly investigated, making data retrieval a difficult task. The purpose of this review is to identify the main aspects concerning MPs pollution sources in lakes and rivers, with a focus on freshwater sediments as a site of accumulation and as the habitat of benthic organisms, which are key components of food webs and play a fundamental role in energy/contaminant transfer processes, but are still poorly considered. Through this review, the sources and fate of MPs in freshwater are analysed, ecotoxicological studies focused on sediments and benthic fauna are exposed, the most frequently used sampling and analysis strategies are reported, and future trends of MPs analysis in this field are proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2020)
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