Environment has been a hot topic of CERENA’s research since the starting of the Centre. There is a long experience in research in a very wide variety of topics, a strong involvement with industry and an active interaction with society, as demonstrated previously in the main achievements 2008-2012 and through the curricula of CERENA’s researchers. Members of the Environmental Group are extracting insights from chemistry, geosciences, biology, ecology, computer science, physics and other fields, and applying them to give a positive contribution to some of today’s most important environmental challenges, based either on improving knowledge of the processes involved, or on the development of technologies, observation and information systems to monitor and modelling the processes or by improving capacities for forecasting and assessing vulnerabilities and impacts of natural and technological hazards.
The research activity of the Environment Group will be coordinated by the PI with the assistance of the coordinators of the main research domains detailed below and will be supported by the following experimental facilities, i.e., laboratories resources, located at IST/ULisboa and FEUP: Geo-Resources and Geo-Environment, Separation Processes, Hydrometallurgy and Environment, Seismology, Energy and Environment Engineering, Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry, Geomathics. Nevertheless the research subareas and research projects within this Group will be developed by the collaboration of researchers associated with other distinct R&D units. Sharing of synergies will be the base of success for the research carried out and for technology knowledge transfer.
The PI of the group should also promote the preparation of project proposals from researchers within the group and help to gather the appropriate partnership to apply for funding calls. Moreover it is also expected that the researchers within this group contribute to solve specific industry problems, through their expertise.
The Environment Group (EnvG) will develop an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to meet critical environmental challenges of the 21st century. The past experience of CERENA’s researchers and on-going projects are relevant elements for supporting the objectives for the next 6 years.
Research and innovation on management and protection of natural resources (water, air, biomass, soil, biodiversity and ecosystems) will focus on: (i) developing technologies and innovative solutions to improve water quality, recycle and reuse such as removal and recovery of metals and other solutes from liquid effluents and solid residues; ii) fundamental research on the origin of life on Earth based on mineral waters; iii) development of multidisciplinary approach to assessment of thermomineral (Spa) waters; iv) development integrated methodologies to model and evaluate dispersion of pollutants (air, soil, water) associated with industrial activities and abandoned mines to assess their impacts on human health and ecosystems; v) improving capacities for forecasting/early warning, and assessing vulnerabilities and impacts, including the multi-risk dimension, to better understanding the resilience of societies and ecosystems to pollutants and catastrophic events (including natural hazards).
EnvG will also drive research for the characterization of the causes, evolution and consequences of climate change on biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services, water resources, infrastructures and economic and natural assets, namely by: i) improving the scientific knowledge of climate thresholds associated with the terrestrial ecosystems; ii) assessing the impacts, vulnerabilities and to develop innovative cost-effective adaptation and risk prevention and management measures, taking into account extreme events and related climate-induced hazards and their recurrence (desertification, landslides and floods); iii) evaluating the potential impacts, costs, risks and benefits, of potential of geo-engineering options, such as geological carbon sequestration; iv) improving scientific knowledge regarding stone Cultural Heritage and environment interaction, by characterizing the components and constructing valid and useful forecasting models and by developing non-destructive techniques, in order to set up adequate and efficient intervention methodologies.
EnvG will conduct research to contribute to the development of sustained global environmental observation and information systems. We highlight the EnvG participation in the preparatory phase of EPOS infrastructure. EnvG will also endow research for providing web services based on exclusively free and unrestricted accessible data which include Earth Observation data (remote sensing images), namely to provide desertification indicators, to monitor and access the application of measures to prevent and mitigate desertification processes. Research on Image Analysis of Remotely Sensed Planetary Surfaces aiming at automated mapping of planetary surfaces in detail and surface chronostratigraphy, mineral exploration, surface modification, environmental monitoring, natural hazards and risk assessment will continue to be developed.
EnvG will continue to develop research on Environmental Health where the main interests are the investigation of the associations of human health outcomes with natural or anthropogenic factors, especially: i) excessive exposure or deficiency of elements and minerals by ingestion and/or dermal contact; ii) association of inhalation of mineral dusts and other atmospheric pollutants with respiratory system diseases morbidity and mortality and with childhood health outcomes; iii) the association of mental health outcomes with the use of mineral waters; iv) investigate the use of mineral waters for therapeutical purposes.