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Institute of the Environment

Lines of research

Institute of the Environment

Water

Goals:

In this area water is treated as a resource but also as a determining environment for life on Earth. In this sense the study of its interaction with the atmosphere is a key subject for the study of the climate. On the other hand, ever since the seventies, serious worry about water as a limited resource and of diminishing quality has been present. From the initial particular vision, in the present it has undergone an integrated treatment that can only be successful if there are heterogeneous and complementary human resources. The management of the water cycle today needs consideration at several levels and an interdisciplinary approach. For this reason it is our objective that the contribution of the members and collaborators of the IMA,from different disciplines with complementary visions and experiences, can offer society far-reaching support on the subject of water.

Lines of research:

  • Analysis and management of the use of water resources
  • Analysis and management of floods and droughts.
  • Applied hydrodynamics
  • Transport and mixture in natural aquatic systems
  • Management of fluvial basins
  • Selection of the most appropriate technologies
  • Advanced treatments of wastewaters
  • Control and decision making in management
  • Monitoring and control of water quality
  • Study of the oceanic surface layer and the coastal platform.

Relevant experience:

  • 1:25.000 and 1:10.000 scale cartography of floodable areas and the analysis of the risk of flood of the cultural heritage in the Fluvià river basin. Catalan Water Agency.
  • Plan of integral ordering of the Ter river. AlbaTer Consortium.
  • Development of a system of control and supervision applied to a sequential reactor for loads (SBR) for the elimination of matter, nitrogen and phosphorus. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Study of hydrodynamics and their effects on the distributions of particles in reservoirs as a factor of water quality. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Integrated study of the water cycle. The case of the Muga river basin (Girona). Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  •  The efficiency of environmental policy measures in agriculture. Analysis of water and soil erosion. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • STREAMES (STream REach Management, an Expert System) Human effects on nutrient cycling in fluvial ecosystems: The development of an Expert System to assess stream water quality management at reach scale. European Union

Biodiversity, biology of conservation and ecology of the landscape

Goals:

Deepening knowledge of biological diversity, to analyse the most frequent perturbations of anthropogenic origin, their consequences, the possible performances and to promote research related to the conservation of our natural heritage with a special focus on and utilisation of the principles and methods developed from the biology of conservation and the ecology of landscape.

Lines of research:

  • Endangered species and conservation: vascular flora, marsh vegetation, benthonic seaweeds, continental and sea fish, birds.
  • Perturbations: forest fires, invading species, exploitation.
  • Management and conservation: regeneration and re-forestation, restoration of lagoon systems.
  • Population studies through genetic analysis and criteria of conservation.
  • Environmental Change.
  • Design ecological networks and other structures of ecological connection.

Relevant experience:

  • Non invasive methods of genetic analysis for the identification and conservation of endangered populations of otter, Lutra lutra, and muskrat, Galemys pirenaicus. Department of Environment and Habitat - Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia.
  • Ecological impact of invading fish and its evaluation: from the mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki) to the catfish (Silurus glanis). Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Study of the state, dynamics and impacts of the invasion of the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) in Mediterranean ecosystems. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Evaluation of the temporary stability of population parameters and genetic diversity in populations of common trout (Salmo trutta) subjected to different management status. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Recovery and sustainable use of lawn meadows in coastal wetlands for use as natural hardware. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Integration of geographical information technologies for the analysis of changes in the uses of the ground at Alt Empordà. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Cartography and study of non-forest habitats of Alta Garrotxa (pastures and crops) with special emphasis on the habitats of community interest. Consorci de l'Alta Garrotxa - Department of Environment and Habitat.

Climate change and energy resources

Goals:

This area results from the concern about the impact that human activities have on the global environment, and includes both research on anthropogenic climate change and related aspects, such as energy resources. Among the objectives of the field are: to contribute to improve future climate predictions, both on a global scale and especially at a regional level; improve the knowledge of the present and past climate; to support the most extensive implementation of the use of renewable energy funds; and describe the impacts on our environment caused by climate change.

Lines of research:

  • Evaluation of the solar and aeolian resource from meteorological data and using models of simulation.
  • Implantation of photovoltaic and thermal solar energetic exploitations,
  • Energy use of biomass
  • Climatology of cloudiness, radiation in the atmosphere and interaction with clouds and aerosols.
  • Regional climate change (in Catalonia)
  • Studies of the impact of electromagnetic waves generated by high-tension cables.

Relevant experience:

  • Estimation of the aeolian resource through tools of numeric simulation of fluid dynamics. Ecotècnia.
  • The biomass as a source of raw materials and energy: Feasibility study. Abertis Foundation.
  • Studies on the impact of electromagnetic waves. Different Town Councils and Associations of defence of the land.
  • Climatology of cloudiness in Catalonia and in the Iberian Peninsula. Catalonia Meteorology Service - Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia.
  • The transfer of radiation in the atmosphere, effects of aerosols and clouds. The case of UV radiation. Department of Environment and Habitat - Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia.

Ecoproduction

Goals:

Optimum utilisation of resources and the introduction of preventive methods in the industry (reduction at the origin, valuation, recycling, reuse), as preferential over methods of correction of the problems generated. First, in the drive for cleaner production promoted by PNUMA and ONUDI, and then following the European Union directives with the best available techniques. On the other hand the training of professionals and collaboration in specific activities designed for improving the environmental conditions and the competitiveness of companies.

Lines of research:

  • Formulation and diffusion of the principles of prevention and minimisation.
  • Combining technologies compatible with the environment with management in the company.
  • Analysis of the life-cycle, industrial ecology and other tools of business/environment management.
  • Implantation of eco-production in companies and specific study of cases of eco-efficiency.
  • Support for the application of environmental management systems, ISO 14000 and EMAS.
  • Recovery of waste in the life-cycle of resources.

Relevant experience:

  • Study of reduction in residual currents. Medichem S.A.
  • Prevention of pollution in the use of solvents. Economagement Manual 22. Department of Environment and Housing.
  • Application of an analysis tool for decision making processes with environmental criteria in an I+D project: production of active coal from biological mud. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Development of optimum techniques of synthesis and integrated design of processes. Application of the process of purification of wastewaters. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Paperex Project. Study of the alternatives of economic and social development of territories: an application of the methodology of multi-criteria decisions. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.

Environmental education

Goals:

They are set out in the recent statement by the United Nations: 2005-2014. Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

And there are five in particular: promoting the incorporation of environmental thought and action in university professionals, design and analysis of educational methodologies that contribute to an effective environmental education of children and young people, to contribute to the social formation of an environmental ethics based on knowledge and personal reflection as social individuals and groups, to study strategies of action as a basis for the development of scientific and environmental thought and to promote civic participation in the area of sustainability.

Lines of research:

  • The training of teaching staff and environmental educators for sustainability
  • The curricular orientation of university studies and compulsory education
  • Environmental communication and civic participation
  • The qualitative evaluation of Environmental Education programmes

Relevant experience:

  • Research of Curricular Environmentalism in Compulsory and Higher Education.
  • Catalan Strategy of Environmental Education (ECEA). Department of Environment and Housing.
  • Competency based curriculum development for education for sustainable development in initial teacher training and in-service training institutions. CSCT Comenius Project.
  • Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability. UNITWIN/UNESCO International Network.

Planning and management of territory and landscape

Goals:

The utilisation of specific analysis and diagnosis methodologies in order to propose new forms of planning and management of territory which can attain one suitable balances between human activities and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. These new forms of planning and management must also serve to foster the local (integral and sustainable) development of local territorial systems defined as supra-municipal areas. And on the other hand identify the values ​​and functions of the landscape with a special focus on the analysis, evaluation and evolution of landscapes, from a natural and cultural point of view with the aim of establishing management measures and landscape planning aimed at their conservation and/or restoration.

Lines of research:

  • Definition of methodologies for the concretion of urban areas and analysis and classification of these.
  • Studies for the elaboration of urban and territorial planing.
  • Studies for the elaboration of strategic planing and local development.
  • Studies of tourism resources and sustainability.
  • Elaboration of local Agendas 21 (plans of Local Action for Sustainability).
  • Socioeconomic and territorial analysis of information in different scales.
  • Transformation of landscape
  • Elaboration of catalogues and cards of landscape
  • Design of green ways and other structures of landscape connection.

Relevant experience:

  • Demographic analysis and definition of the urban area for the territorial and urban strategy of Figueres 21st century. Ajuntament de Figueres.
  • Local Action Plan for the Sustainability of Torroella de Montgrí-l'Estartit. Town council of Torroella de Montgrí.
  • Study of mobility in the comarca of La Garrotxa. Local Board of La Garrotxa.
  • Socioeconomic and territorial diagnosis of the Catalan coast. Record of the Master Plan of the Coast. Department of Territorial Policy and Public Works.
  • Development and validation of a method of appraisal of the beach resource such as grants for the integrated management of coastal tourism zones (MeVaPlaya). Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Catalogue of the landscape of the Camp de Tarragona. Observatory of the Landscape of Catalonia.
  • Definition of the connectivity of the space of Gallecs with the natural spaces of the Prelitoral Serralada and the Serralada Litoral. Diputació de Barcelona.
  • Cartography and evolution of the coastal landscape of Catalonia 1800-2000. Ministerio de Ciencia y Technology.