Lines of research

The lines of research carried on at IIAMA are in fields relating to Water and the Environment, covering almost the complete hydrological cycle. In many of these lines, and also in the many collaboration projects we have been involved in, we have obtained results that have been transferred to both business companies and public organisations.

In these centres, more than 50 different lines of research are being carried out in the following fields:

Assessment of Environmental Impact

Development of new equipment for on site measurements in aquatic systems

Development of measurement probes of different parameters with the aim of facilitating considerably certain measurement and sampling processes.

Tools for the implementation and development of The European Water Framework Directive on Coastal and Transitional Waters

Analysis and optimization of sampling networks for nutrients and phytoplankton. Analysis and development of indicators for contamination by heavy metals and indicators for plankton. Determination and analysis of pressures. Establishment of the relationship between pressure and indicator. Development of the methodology and establishment of the good ecological potential for application in heavily modified port and transitional water masses (estuaries, salt marshes, coastal lagoons).

Integral management of coastal zones

Analysis of uses in coastal zones. Planning and management of the coast. Territorial ordination. Changes and evolution of uses. Environmental impacts and transformations of the coastal zone. Discharges of organic matter, nutrients. Effects on plankton, benthos and other communities.

Development of tools for environmental impact assessments

Search criteria and thresholds to evaluate the importance of environmental assessment. Methodologies for the determination of indirect impacts. Methodologies for the determination of cumulative impacts. Tools for quantitative forecasting of pollutant accumulation processes in the ecosystem.

Forestry Science and Technology

Soil biogeochemistry

The carbon cycle within soil. Respiration of soil. Carbon of microbial biomass. The nitrogen cycle within soil. Mineralization and nitrification. Nitrate leaching. Enzymatic activities.

Forest hydrology, management and hydrological planning of headwaters catchments

Adaptive management for water scarcity from climate change in forest watersheds. Quantification of forest management in water terms (tree/stand water use). Matching management criteria with a strong basis on soil conservation along with hydrological objectives of saving and / or water production. Obtaining hydrological indicators, quantification of forest-water relationships, effect of forestry on these.

Water-soil-plant relationships. Transport models of water and solutes in soil

Soil characteristics that determine the distribution and productivity of vegetation. Soil temperature. Soil moisture. Plant response patterns to different abiotic stress conditions in Mediterranean climate. Evaluation of simulation models of nitrogen in the soil, and their subsequent use as tools of advice to farmers. Sensitivity analysis. Analysis of uncertainties.

Sustainable Forest Management

Sustainable forest management: forestry; silvopastoral systems; use of forestry products and other environmental services; Mountain ordination.


Improvement of cultivation techniques and production monitoring of truffles in mycorrhizal plants that are managed as an agro-forest exploitation. We work with the following variables: soil disinfection techniques, reinoculations, irrigation, pruning etc. Management of the forest mass to maintain the current truffle plantations and favour the formation of new truffle plantations, so much with light and reinoculations as with plantations. Implementation of techniques to establish truffle plantation (highly fire resistant) in firebreak areas in a way that contribute to the best maintenance of the firebreak due to its allelopathic effects that promote a very resistant fuel model and the entailment of the local population interested in the truffle for the maintenance of the firebreak areas.

Forestry and forest management adaptation to global change; Morphological, physiological and biochemical responses of forest species to water stress; Monitoring and tracing of forest ecosystems

Influence of forest management as a measure of mitigation and / or adaptation of forests to global change (changes in forest structure, etc.). Quantification of the goods and services of forest ecosystems and their articulation within forest management, orientating it towards payment systems for environmental services. Transpiration and sap flow, dendrochronology, stable isotopes and characterization of WUE, Proteomics of species against abiotic stress (hydric and thermal). Characterization and monitoring of environmental and ecohydrological variables in experimental sites. Data loggers. Sensor networks.

Forestry, forest governance, international forest resources

Sustainable forest management, criteria and indicators, forest certification, adaptive forestry, multifunctional forestry, silvogenesis, intensive plantations, silvicultural treatments, restoration of degraded forests. Forest tenure and ownership, forest institutionality, forest regulation, international forest regime, forest financing, environmental service payments, forestry planning, forest communication, forestry education and research, forestry history. Forest resources at a global and regional scale, deforestation and its causes, forest restoration programs, “REDD +”, “FLEGT”, the UN system and forests.

Drought analysis

Drought indexes. Relationship between droughts and forest fires. Droughts and forest management.

Efficient management of irrigation water. Efficiency of water and energy use in irrigation

Water-energy binomial as a fundamental factor for irrigation to meet the new challenges of sustainability required. Irrigation programming, agronomic modeling of irrigated crops (Aquacrop, EPIC, etc.), energy optimization for the operation of irrigation pressurized irrigation networks. Modeling of nitrate pollution from irrigation. Adaptation to climate change.

Integral ordination of watersheds; Hydrological-Environmental-Forestry restoration and climate change; Forest fires and climate change; Desertification processes; Ordination of forests with sustainability criteria; Biomass

Watershed planning and management for decision making with sustainability criteria. Responses and restoration strategies in degraded areas. Ecological consequences on elements of the environment regarding soil erosion and change of floristic composition and vegetation structures. Analysis of global incidence of fire as a deforestation element, change of land-use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and incidence on climate change. Identification of desertification processes at different scales and response strategies. Planning criteria with the objective of creating mature forests that are ecologically stable and more resistant to pests, diseases and fires. Biomass as natural renewable energy at crop level and as a tool for forest management and preventive forestry in the fight against forest fires.

Forest restoration, nurseries and plant quality

Forest restoration. Control and monitoring of the integral reforestation process, focusing on the different elements (environment, stock, works execution, project, climatology, etc.) that affect plantation establishment; Stock quality improvement programs (genetic, morphological, physiological and biological plant quality, and marketable stock quality). Development of stock quality standards for reforestation (target seedling). Improvement and protocolization of nursery stock culture of forest species. Overall improvement of goals and results in forest restoration programs of watersheds.

Hydraulic Networks and Pressurised Systems

Software development for the analysis of pressure water networks

Improvement of algorithm analysis of the permanent and non-permanent hydraulic state of hydraulic networks. Data conversions. Simplification of networks. Algorithms of topology and sectorization. Algorithms of energy optimization. Assessment of leakage and pressure dependent demands. Translation of commercial/free software to other languages. Developments based on EPANET software.

Evaluation and planning for improvements in water supplies

Design of new networks, preparation and calibration of network models in service, advice for field measurements, improvement and rehabilitation of networks in operation, evaluation and location of leaks, proposal of maintenance plans, optimization of operation in the short and medium term, preparation of water quality models in networks, and the general technical assistance in preparing Master Plans.

Application of GIS to the management of water distribution networks

Integration of simulation models in a Geographic Information System and the development of tools to aid in decision making. Calibration and simplification of models and tools for up-to-date model maintenance. Management applications based on the network model: production balances, sectorization, demand management, fault management, emergency situations, service quality assessment, location maps, inventories, project monitoring, etc.

Real-time control and optimization of water distribution networks

Integration and use of models in daily operations of networks. Field data analysis and filtering, demand forecasting, synoptic preparation for SCADA systems, SCADA-model connection, training of operators, anticipation of actions, anticipation of system evolutions and optimization of operating regime in real time.

Design and optimal exploitation of pressure irrigation networks

Optimal solutions for the outline and dimensioning of pressure irrigation networks, incorporating agro-climatic data for the evaluation of crop needs, with the help of GIS. Exploitation management of community irrigators from GIS. Estimation of crop water needs from agroclimatic data in real time. Optimization of irrigation scheduling, and real time energy optimization.

Management of irrigation water through remote sensing, soil and plant sensors

This line of research focuses on the calculation of water requirements and the determination of water stress of crops by means of remote sensing techniques at different scales, the measurement of soil moisture content and the determination of water stress through the measurement of physiological parameters in plants.

Hydraulics and Hydrology

Hydraulics of large dams

Analysis and hydraulic design of spillways and outlets. Study of aerated flows and stepped chutes. Theoretical-experimental study of the methodological criteria of adaptation of existing designs of dams with a shock absorber bowl or semi-submerged ski-jump, at higher flow rates than those of the project. Experimental analysis and hydraulic designs of new element-structures of energy dissipation.

Automatic hydrological networks: real time applications

Measurement and estimation of climatic, hydraulic and hydrological variables in real time with high resolution. Hydrometry. Sensors and data management. Automatic networks. Hydrological databases. Verification, completion and real time processing of information. Use of robust real-time models for decision-making and optimum management of hydraulic resources systems. Quantification of uncertainty and predictions in short term scenarios.

Environmental Hydraulics

Mass transport in turbulent flow. Stratified flows. Quality processes in lakes and reservoirs. Hydrodynamics of Reservoirs. Hydraulic and geomorphological relationships with riparian vegetation. Thermal flows in rivers and bodies of water. Selective extraction. Density currents. Salt stratification in estuaries.

Fluvial Hydraulics

Study of sediment transport hydraulics and fluvial morphology. Theoretical-experimental analysis of local erosions in structures inserted in riverbeds and development of protection methodologies. Quantification of the vulnerability of bridges over river overflows. Study of the effects of resistance to the flow of vegetation, rigid and flexible, totally and partially submerged, in riverbeds and floodplains.

Physical Modeling in Hydraulic Engineering

Physical models of Hydraulic Works. Spillways of large dams. Modeling of channeling and sediment transport. Energy dissipators. Scale effect. Aerated flow. Laboratory instrumentation.

Hydrological analysis of large dams

Flood frequency analysis. Flood routing in reservoirs. Hydrological and hydraulic design of outflow appurtenances. Flood risk modification by large dams and reservoirs. Risk at river junctions. Statistical copulas. Dam spillways. Real time gate management.

Sustainable Drainage Systems

Retention tanks. Hydrological and hydraulic design. Control and management of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO). Permeable pavements. Retention and infiltration ponds. Source control of urban runoff.

Analysis, design and modeling of storm sewer systems

Design of large sewer networks. Hydrological computation of flow rates. Hydraulic design. Energy dissipators. Hydrological simulation. Hydraulic mathematical modeling. Water quality modeling. Storm tanks. Retention and attenuation tanks.

Hydrology of wetland

Water balance, evaporation. Hydrological analysis. Hydraulic analysis. Geohydrological relationships. Water-biocenosis relationships. Hydroperiods. Water regime of soil and vegetation. Hydrological and hydraulic modeling. Water quality and its modeling.

Stochastic modeling. Prediction and hydrological simulation

Generation of synthetic rainfall and flow series with ARMA, ARMAX and nonlinear models. Intermittent series. Data completion. Analysis and forecasting of droughts. Application of artificial neural networks: Hydrological forecasting, Water demand forecasting and simulation. Generation of synthetic time series. Incorporation of qualitative variables and expert knowledge in hydrological models. Real-time forecasting for flood control as support for criteria and rules of dam management. Classification of hydrological problems with functions of radial basis functions (RBF) - support for decision-making. Connection of stochastic rainfall models with water balance models.

Precipitation modeling

Quantitative rainfall prediction. Downscaling. Stochastic modeling. Scale Reduction of atmospheric circulation models. Multidimensional modeling. Completed series. Continuous simulation models. Distributions of extremes. Estimation of IDF curves. Analysis of IDF curves at smaller intervals. Regionalization. Design storms. Synthetic generation of temporal high- resolution rainfall. Applications in urban hydrology. Areal reduction factors. Precipitation areal estimation. Calibration of models with radar information. Time and space-time stochastic precipitation models.


Subsurface hydrology

Management of water resources. Exploitation and management of aquifers. Mathematical models of groundwater flow and mass transport. Conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater. Models of groundwater management. Analytical and semi-analytical flow models. Eigenvalues. Relations of surface water and groundwater. Modeling of karstic media.

Geostatistics and risk analysis

Applications of Geostatistics for the management of natural resources. Analysis of uncertainty in underground flow modeling and mass transport. Flow modeling in low permeability media. Storage of toxic and nuclear waste. Stochastic flow models. Self-calibrating method. Inverse modeling. Analysis of the heterogeneity and spatial variability of permeable media.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental impact analysis of public works. Environmental impact studies. Vulnerability studies of aquifers. Risk analysis. Application of mathematical models for the evaluation of impacts.

Geostatistical methods for the incorporation of geophysical information in the estimation of hydrological variables

Use of geostatistical techniques to incorporate information derived from geophysical surveys (seismic, meteorological radar and remote sensing), in the improvement of knowledge of hydrological relevance variables such as precipitation, hydraulic conductivity, heavy metal concentration, infiltration rate or the leaf area index.

Contaminated soils and solid waste management

Techniques for treatment and disposal of solid waste (toxic and hazardous waste, industrial waste and urban waste). Transfer plants. Recycling center. Solid waste dumps. Safety deposit of hazardous waste. Contaminated soil remediation techniques.

Discrete numerical methods of particle and fluid Interaction

Numerical simulation studies of arid movement processes (sand, sludge, etc.) using discrete methods. Energy conservation in dynamic processes. Fluid-structure interaction by calculating hydrodynamic forces with specialized computer codes based on the finite element method and applying them to other discrete element codes. Study of sedimentation phenomena and movement of dunes.

Multiphysics and numerical analysis of active materials

Analysis based on thermodynamic physics of mechanical, electrical, thermal and magnetic field interactions. Implementation in a finite element research code. Study of a wide range of active materials such as piezoelectric, thermoelectric, pyroelectric etc. Simulation of other materials such as semiconductors and photovoltaic and with mass movement such as plasmas. Application for detection sensors (humidity, gas, etc.) and as actuators (pulses for searching and characterization in geology etc.).

Design and analysis of parts made of composite materials

Numerical analysis using finite elements of aeronautical parts made of composite material. Detection of possible damages in the structure while being used. Application of optimization algorithms and inverse problems to detect anomalies in global responses, for example in the vibration of a high-speed train bridge when it is inaugurated (undamaged state) and during the passage of a convoy (possible damaged state).

Hydrological and Environmental Modelling

Statistical Hydrology

Statistical models of extremes (floods and droughts). Historical information and historic floods incorporation techniques. Regional analysis. Multivariate statistical models. Non-stationary modeling. Teleconnections between extremes and climatic indicators. IDF curves estimation. Scalability. Small watershed floods. Sensitivity analysis of models. Models of error and uncertainty estimation in simulation and prediction.

Hydraulic modeling and floods

Flood studies. Impact of floods. Generation of hazard and flood risk maps using GIS techniques. Design of defense actions and Eco-engineering. 2D flood numerical modeling. Automatic channel control. Urban sewer and drainage network information management. Hydraulic modeling of sewer and drainagenetworks. Optimal flood control strategies and reservoir reserves. Real-time prediction systems.

Water resources evaluation

Distributed hydrological modeling. Hydrological models for continuous simulation. Spatial variability of precipitation and temperature. Multi-scale water balances. Distributed recharge of aquifers. Effects of climate change on the hydrological cycle. Effects of changes in land use and/or vegetation cover on the hydrological cycle. Evapotranspiration modeling. Arid climates hydrology. Environmental flows.

Ecohydrology and environment

Modeling of hillside vegetation and plant ecosystems. Geohydrological relations. Water-biocenosis relationships. Interactions between the soil water regime and the dynamic vegetation. Modeling of riparian vegetation. Environmental flows. Anthropogenic effects and climate change in riparian ecosystem. Distributed modeling of N and C cycles at a watershed scale. Erosion and sedimentation processes. Siltation of reservoirs. Radar and satellite assimilation data.

Mathematical Modelling of Flow and Transport

Integrated modeling of water resource systems

Integration of surface and subsurface water models for water resources allocation problems in planning and management. Uncertainty analysis. Modeling of aquifer contamination. Conjunctive use of surface and subsurface water resources.

Application of geostatistical methods to the analysis of hydrological and environmental variables

Applications of spatial statistics to the estimation and mapping of hydrological and environmental variables. Stochastic inverse modeling. Application of uncertainty analysis to the estimation of aquifer reserves and the presence of contaminants in soils and waters.

Mathematical modeling of the flow and mass transport in the subsurface

Development of mathematical models of flow in aquifers and, more generally, applicable to porous media. Study of the relationships between surface water and groundwater. Modeling of processes in saturated and unsaturated media. Development of stochastic flow and transport models. Inverse modeling and model calibration. Analysis of the heterogeneity and spatial variability of permeable media. Modeling of processes of generation and movement of leachates from landfills.

Risk analysis

Application of mathematical models and stochastic techniques for the analysis of risk associated with problems of environmental contamination, landfills and geological deep waste repositories. Assessmet of deep geological storage of nuclear waste.

Physical modeling of flow and transport with laboratory prototypes

Design and construction of physical models of porous medium – porous medium tank - at the laboratory scale for the study of mathematical modeling of the flow and mass transport.

Water Chemistry and Microbiology

Metagenomics of protozoa and bacteria in irrigation and drinking water

Microbiological characterization of wastewater reused for irrigation. Determination of emerging pathogenic protozoa and bacteria.

Survival of pathogenic bacteria in aquatic systems

Study of fluorophores as markers of viability. Study of morphological changes with scanning electron microscopy. Changes in DNA and RNA with PCR and FISH techniques. Survival studies in different aquatic systems. Direct and indirect re-counting techniques.

Molecular techniques applied to the study of ecology of active sludge and MBR biofouling

FISH technique for the determination of phylogenetic groups and functional groups.

Bioindication and control of biological processes in wastewater treatment

Ecological studies of protists, micrometazoans, filamentous bacteria, physicochemical and operational variables for the optimization and monitoring of the active sludge process in WWTP.

Detection of pathogenic microorganisms and indicators of fecal contamination

Tuning of techniques for the detection of pathogenic bacteria by conventional and molecular methods. Detection of pathogenic protozoa by immunocapture, immunofluorescence and molecular methods.

Water Quality

Wastewater treatment

Experimental study, at a laboratory scale using sequential batch reactors, and at a pilot scale using different pilot plants located at industrial Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs). Study of wastewater treatment systems using anaerobic membranes. Study of nutrient recovery of wastewater by microalgae culture. Study of the nutrient recovery (nitrogen and phosphorus) of flows with medium and high concentrations. Microbiological studies of the biomass involved in the different biological processes of wastewater treatment.

Process modeling in Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs)

Modeling of the physical, chemical and biological processes involved, through the development of a global model capable of representing together the main processes that take place in a WWTP and calibration techniques of the model parameters. Development of control systems to optimize the operation of WWTPs including aeration control, pH, control of the level of sludge in primary decanters, and nitrogen and phosphorus removal control. Application of statistical modeling methods for monitoring, diagnosis and control of WWTPs. Development of software for the simulation of different processes modeled together.

Water quality in inland aquatic ecosystems

Study of the physical-chemical quality of inland waters, mainly in lentic environments with special emphasis on the main nutrients in the water column and sediments, heavy metals, volatile acids and sulphide in sediments. Experimental assessment of nutrient flow between sediment and water column.

Surface water quality modeling

Development of eutrophication models in lakes and reservoirs, discharge to the sea by submarine emissaries, transport of metals in sediments and nutrient flows between the sediment and the water column. Part of them realized in collaboration with the group of Water Resources. Currently developing and implementing water quality models for natural and artificial wetlands.

Water treatment through artificial wetlands

Design and exploitation of artificial wetlands for the recovery of eutrophic water bodies; Joint assessment of water quality improvement and indicators of biodiversity and habitats. Study of the use of various adsorbent agents to aid in the elimination of phosphorus through vertical flow artificial wetlands. Study and implementation of improvements in artificial wetlands of small populations for the reduction of ammonium. Evaluation of the role of helotophytes in the reduction of nutrients in waters and their adaptation to working conditions in artificial surface flow wetlands.

Water Resource Engineering

Methodologies and Decision Support Systems for Integrated Planning and Management of Watersheds and Water Resources Systems

Development and application of models of simulation and optimization contemplating quantitative, qualitative, economic, environmental and social aspects of the water, and its integration in support systems of decision and information. Development and analysis of future scenarios, including climate change and adaptation.

Decision making and conflict resolution of water

Decisions with multiple objectives and with multiple actors. Multiobjective Analysis and Applications of Game Theory.

Drought Planning and Management

Analysis of risks related to long-term drought and reduction of vulnerability. Adaptation to droughts. Drought indicators. Short-term risk analysis. Real-time management and increased resilience.

Application of risk analysis to the safety management of dams and other hydraulic infrastructures

Risk analysis. Security of dams. Risk models. Prioritizing investments.

Assessments of sustainability and energy efficiency in water cycle infrastructures

Energy efficiency. Sustainability. Urban water cycle. Utility functions and decision making

Design, instrumentation and study of the behavior of hydraulic works and exploitations

Design of works and hydraulic exploitation. Instrumentation projects, auscultation and development of data analysis systems. Modeling of the mechanical (tenso-deformation) and hydraulic behavior of dams, as well as other hydraulic works and exploitations.

Modeling and restoration of water quality in river sections, lakes and reservoirs

Modeling of physical chemical pollutants in river sections. Water quality remediation techniques in rivers. Numerical methods in water quality. Reservoir eutrophication models. Hydrodynamic models. Restoration Techniques of lakes and reservoirs. Light models of water quality modeling at watershed scale.

Analysis and optimization of water resource systems

Analysis of water resource systems through simulation and optimization of watersheds. Allocation of water resources and estimation of guarantee of the demands. Optimization of operating rules. Evolutionary algorithms applied to the optimization of water resources.

Integral management of water resource systems

Integral water modeling by means of management, quality and environmental models. The management of systems and their influence on water quality and the environment. Definition of ecological flows. Measures for the environmental improvement of water resources.

Hydrological models with surface and groundwater quality at basin scale

Development of hydrological models of continuous simulation that includes surface and groundwater and river-aquifer relationship. Development of models to assess: nitrate contamination in surface and groundwater and recovery measures; erosion and sediment transport; and water quality conditions such as: the electrical conductivity of water, suspended solids and phosphorus.

Assessment of Climate Change in Water Resources and Water Management

Development of models to assess the impact of climate change on surface and underground resources. Analysis of the impact of Climate Change on: water resources, aquatic ecosystems and water management. Analysis and evaluation of adaptation measures.

Drought detection, analysis, prediction and management

Implementation of drought indicator systems in quasi-real time. Analysis of different drought type characteristics. Development of tools for predicting droughts. Impact assessment and drought mitigation measures.

Hydro-economic models and water economy

Hydro-economic models of simulation and optimization of watershed management. Stochastic models of reservoir management. Water markets. Impacts of droughts. Resource cost and environmental costs. Agent models. Cost-Efficiency and Cost-Benefit Analysis. Application to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive.

Assessment of impacts and adaptation to climate change

Climate change scenario creation. Simulation of impacts in hydrology and watershed management. Simulation of impacts on hydrology and management of aquifers. Economic impacts. Participatory methods for adaptation (bottom-up). Management and adaptation models to climate change. Uncertainty and robustness.

Demand planning and management

Projection of demands. Water-energy binomial. Models of impacts and water management in droughts for agriculture. Modernization of irrigation, efficiency and rebound effect. Models of public participation. Urban demand management. Economic instruments (tariff policies, insurance, rates, etc.). Instruments to control diffuse pollution.

Techniques and software for the management modeling of water resource systems

Design and development of methods and computer tools for the analysis of complex water resource (watersheds) systems for the purposes of evaluating operating rules and decision making for watershed management. Development of graphical tools in Geographic Information Systems Environment to help make decisions in the control of software and information of interest in the management of the watershed.

Joint use of surface and groundwater

Watershed management techniques and studies including surface resources, underground reuse and resources from other sources. With the aim of anticipating droughts, as well as designing mitigation strategies for them.

Generation of hydrological scenarios

Multivariate analysis of hydrological data for the formulation of statistical models of series generation: Classic and other techniques.