AquaTerra is one of the first environmental projects within the 6th Framework program by the European Commission. It began in June 2004 with a multidisciplinary team of 45 partner organizations from 13 EU countries, Switzerland, Serbia, Romania and Montenegro. Results from sampling and modeling in 4 large river basins (Ebro, Danube, Elbe and Meuse) and one catchment of the Brévilles Spring in France led to new evaluations of diffuse and hotspot input of persistent organic and metal pollutants including dynamics of pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, as well as metal turnover and accumulation. While degradation of selected organic compounds could be demonstrated under controlled conditions in the laboratory, turnover of most persistent pollutants in the field seems to range from decades to centuries. First investigations of long-term cumulative and degradation effects, particularly in the context of climate change, have shown that it is also necessary to consider the predictions of more than one climate model when trying to assess future impacts. This is largely controlled by uncertainties in climate model responses. It is becoming evident, however, that changes to the climate will have important impacts on the diffusion and degradation of pollutants in space and time that are just at the start of their exploration.