II. Water and environment

II.A.Transport dynamics and environmental monitoring in the river watersheds and coastal zone


Objectives are: a) Development of new modeling techniques to characterise the pollutant surface and subsurface transport discharging in the coastal zone. The concentration dynamics and its fluctuations will be described developing a novel modeling tools able to predict the point and areal concentration distribution developing in time. b) Promoting new monitoring techniques, which will be used to verify modeling results from the first objective. The idea is based on the recently developed semi-analytical tools for assessing concentration dynamics in the surface and subsurface water coupled with innovative hyper-spectral measurements of concentration fluctuations. Such developed concentration distribution in space and time could be used for developing probabilistic risk assessment in context with water related EU directives (Water Framework Directive, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, and European Flood Directive).

Aereal photographs of the Grand River plume at Grand Haven

Integrated LIDAR and HSI data over ruptured containment dam

These ideas will be used also to address the climate change impacts on the coastal zone in terms of predicting future risk assessment as a result of changing key climate variables influencing concentration dynamics in the environment. For High Resolution Hyperspectral Remote Sensing for Environmental Management of Coastal Zones, different data can be extrapolated from same datasets - water quality, vegetation type, soils type, pollution levels, man-made material (e.g. roof and building types etc.)

Cooperation: This research group has a close collaboration with prof. V.Cvetković (KTH, Sweden) and prof. G. Destouni (University of Stockholm, Sweden) with whom two researchers rom FGAG obtained a joint Ph.D. Additional collaboration regarding the research on risk assessment was done with dr. J. Daniels (Desert Research Institute, USA) and prof. A.Fiori (University Roma, Italy).  For the continuation of this research young researchers and equipment for the Croatian research groups are needed.
Commercialization: Commercialization is envisaged in the form of developing a new environmental monitoring for certain water quality parameters since it offers continuous spatial resolution with desired temporal frequency.

II.B. Impact of climate change on coastal areas

The two main objectives of this research project are to predict future coastal climate change for the Adriatic region by using high-resolution regional climate modeling with a coupled atmosphere-ocean modeling system including predictions of trends in hydrological resources and investigate the impact of atmospheric and ocean parameters on the hydrological cycle as well as to develop an integrated forecasting system that consists of coupled atmosphere-ocean predictive models and a module for predictions of the transport and dispersion of passive tracers in the Adriatic in current and future climate scenarios.

The main idea in this task is to couple pollutant transport and dispersion in both media including atmospheric deposition to the ocean and source inputs injected directly to the ocean. Using predicted turbulence fluxes in the ocean, we will be able to develop stochastic parameterizations for the dispersion and verify the developed scheme using dye experiments.

Cooperation: Scientists involved in the research are dr. D. Koračin (PMF, UNIST), dr. Clive Dorman (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego), dr. Gordana Beg Paklar (IZOR, Split); dr. John Mejia (Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada, U.S.A.), (FGAG, UNIST), doc. Željka Fuchs (PMF, UNIST), dr. Kristian Horvath (MHSC), dr. Rahela Žabkar (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), dr. Johannes Bieser (Helmholtz Centre, Geesthacht, Germany) and dr. Amela Jeričević, (MHSC) with their research groups. For the realization of the project young researchers and equipment for the Croatian research groups are needed.

Commercialization: Predictions of transport and dispersion of pollutants in the coupled atmosphere-ocean medium is important for waste and wastewater management in coastal areas. The proposed coupled atmosphere-ocean model can be used as an operational tool for many agencies and private enterprises.

II.C. Ecotoxicological characterization of biologically active substances from marine environment – Blue biotechnology

Management and sustainable use of marine resources, especially in the case of the Adriatic Sea as a relatively close, highly diverse, and ecologically vulnerable ecosystem, strongly relies on research capacities available in the field of environmental toxicology. Therefore, in this context the basic idea fostered by the advanced research organized within the ZCI STIM will be focused on further development of internationally competitive research capacities in marine ecotoxicology. This will be achieved by activities directed towards several research topics and objectives that links the basic research in molecular ecotoxicology with potential applications.

Significant part of the project activities will be dedicated to identification and molecular characterization of (eco)toxicologically relevant transport proteins and key cellular detoxification and/or DNA or protein repair systems in suitable in vitro (cell cultures) and in vivo (zebrafish) research models. The knowledge obtained and the methods developed will be than used for development of high throughput screening (HTS) protocols that will enable fast and reliable screening and identification of environmental contaminants that may induce or inhibit crucial cellular defense mechanisms addressed in the project. Finally, combination of developed bioassays and advanced chemical analytical identification protocols will be used for prioritization of contaminants in marine environment using the multidiscplinary concept of the Effects-Directed Analyses (EDA), in close collaboration with other ZCI STIM research groups.

Cooperation: The main part of research on the topics described above will be performed by the group of Dr. Tvrtko Smital (Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb). Apart from ZCI STIM researchers, other international collaborators include Dr. Karl Fent (University of Basel, ETH Zürich, Dr. Thomas Dickmeis (European Zebrafish Resource Center, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany), Dr. Amro Hamdoun (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, CA, USA), Dr. Till Luckenbach (UfZ, Leipzig, Germany), Dr. Ilaria Corsi (University of Siena, Italy), and Dr. Jelica Simeunović (University of Novi Sad, Serbia).

Commercialization: The commercial aspects related to the research described mainly relies in potential application of the high throughput screening methods developed in the course of the project. Using those methods it will be possible to identify new, biologically active substances with well-defined mechanism(s) of action, as well as contaminants that may critically affect basic cellular defense mechanisms present and active in aquatic organisms.


 Sampling location sites for Caulerpa taxifolia and their distribution (marked red and green) across the Vrsar seabed and Stari Grad Bay


II.D. Biofilm research - Blue biotechnology

The ideas of the project are: a) based on the fact that marine organisms have developed unique metabolic and physiological capabilities that ensure survival in diverse habitats and have resulted in the evolution of an array of secondary metabolites and unique chemistry; b) understanding the structure and function of microbial communities and their dynamics with regard to biotic and abiotic changes in the environment and identify possible biotechnological use (adaptive evolution for the ne blue base economy)

Medicaments from marine organisms

CooperationProf. Dr. Olivier P. Thomas, University of Nice; Dr. Gennaro Pescitelli, University of Pisa; prof. R. Amann, Max Planck Institute; prof. M. Wagner, Division of Microbial Ecology, University of Vienna, prof. T. Bosak, MIT; Prof. S. Pretorius, Macquarie University. For the realization of the project young researchers and equipment for the Croatian research groups are needed.

CommercializationBioproducts discovery and molecular based drug development in cooperation with SMEs experienced in scaling-up of bioproduction, biomedical applications will exploit aquatic molecular biodiversity. Cooperation with clinics and pharma industry will contribute to commercialization. SME based research dealing with sustainable exploitation of aquatic molecular diversity.