Effects of interactions between land and ocean on the coast

One of our main areas of research is the interactions between land and ocean and their effects on the coast, with a particular focus on the problems caused by eutrophication.

Heterogeneidad de parámetros fisicoquímicos y biológicos en el litoralHeterogeneity of physicochemical and biological parameters on the coast

The coast receives inflows from the continent mainly in the form of freshwater and nutrients. These continental inputs are diluted in the ocean and transformed by chemical, physical, and biological processes. Therefore, the coastal zone’s dynamics make it one of the most complex marine environments. Since 1990, the PBL has studied the coastal zone variability and the many influences that act upon it, including their causes and consequences, using recent data and time series of temperature, salinity, dissolved inorganic nutrients, chlorophyll, phytoplankton species, etc. The results provide both a general and a detailed description of the heterogeneity of coastal physic-chemical and biological parameters, at different spatio-temporal scales. This knowledge serves as the basis of coastal marine research and coastal management, particularly those aspects affecting the implementation of new environmental European directives (Water Framework Directive and Marine Strategy Directive)

Processes involved in coastal dynamics

Procesos implicados en la dinámica litoralSpatio-temporal studies on coastal physic-chemical and biological parameters have allowed us to begin to elucidate the processes that control coastal functioning. However, continued progress depends on the ability to recognize the structures involved in the determination of coastal dynamics, identify the relationships between them and, finally, interpret the information. To acquire this knowledge, the first aim of our work has been the identification of tracers of different types and, subsequently, on the determination of those that can serve as environmental quality indicators. Moreover, the nature of the identified tracers must be discerned in order to determine whether they are of natural or anthropogenic origin.

Assessment of coastal environmental quality

Evaluación de la calidad ambiental litoralAn understanding of the spatio-temporal structures of the physic-chemical and biological parameters and the comprehension of the processes that relate these structures on the coastal zone enable us to assess the environmental quality of this fragile environment. We have therefore developed methodologies based on environmental indicators, using coastal procedures or indexes to evaluate coastal water quality. The results provide information about the state of the coastal ecosystem and the continental influences that act upon it. In this regard, one of our tasks is to assess the impact of human activities on the coastal zone, especially with respect to eutrophication. In fact, distinguishing coastal disturbances caused by natural vs. anthropogenic processes is one of the key aims of the current European directives regarding the marine environment (WFD and MSFD). According to these directives, if anthropogenic processes are identified as the cause of coastal disturbances, remedial actions must be implemented in order to restore the natural state of the coastal environment. Additional applications of our research on environmental management include the monitoring network design or the optimization of sampling networks already implemented.