grafico15Establishment of a Spanish operational oceanographic system. ESEOO (2004-2007)

Is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology which aims to promote operational oceanography in the national and, more specifically, services capable of providing answers to emergency situations at sea, such as object tracking discharges and the drift. Involving more than 14 Spanish institutions, highlighting the Maritime Rescue Society for being a end user of the products of the project.

As part of this project, IH Cantabria has developed a series of numerical modeling based services:

  • OPROMS operating system, which  provides daily high resolution predictions of sea level, currents, temperature and salinity for the coast of Cantabria and
  • the transport and fuel degradation model TESEO, which predicts the path and behavior of spills or drifting objects.
Published in R&D projects

Study of physical processes and numerical analysis of gravitational flow, environmental variables and discharges of hypersaline plumes.


(BIA2011-29031-C02-01, 2012-2014) is a research project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, which is part of a project coordinated by IH Cantabria together with the University of La Coruña (Spain).

The goal is to advance the research developed in the MEDUSA project (2008-2011, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Environment) and to obtain methodologies and tools for the design of brine discharged into the sea from desalination plants, to try to minimize their potential impact on marine ecosystems, especially in the Mediterranean Sea.

Specifically, the research consists of different tasks all aimed at further studying the mixing process between a hypersaline release and the marine environment (receiver).

We will study, among other things:

  • flow dynamics in multiple jet discharge under different diffuser section designs;
  • influence of hydrodynamic environmental conditions (waves, currents, density stratification of the water column, depth) on the behavior of effluent discharges;
  • brine discharge behavior in far field, paying special attention to mixing processes and the development of modeling tools;
  • characterization and assembly modeling near and far field.
Published in R&D projects
The number of accidental oil spills affecting the Atlantic coast of Europe in the last decades has led to a growing concern regarding oil spill preparedness and response, and has motivated the development and implementation of different tools to be used in these emergency situations. Close to shore, most damage occurs in sheltered bays and inlets, where oil is concentrated.

In the last years different national and internationals administrations have promoted environmental directives aimed to protect these aquatic ecosystems (e.g. Water Framework Directive (2000/60/CE); Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)).

To fulfil the legislation and to prevent, prepare for, and respond to oil spills, two different approaches exist: planning tools to promote an integrated and sustainable oil spill response capability in the regions are needed, and operational oceanography systems that provide real-time forecast of oceanographic variables and oil spill trajectories are becoming a key element in oil spill response.


The main objective of the project is to generate both operational forecasting systems and planning tools, at local scale (estuaries and ports) by developing a set of high resolution operational oceanographic systems in several estuaries or ports located in the Atlantic Area, and establishing local oil spill response plans for these local areas based on risk assessment.

SPRES also aims to embed the project results firmly in regional development activities through the involvement of stakeholders in a large range of activities. The stakeholders will therefore be involved in the planning and delivery of the project aims, as well as promoting the project results to the wider industrial and public sector communities. By involving stakeholders closely and making sure that the stakeholder community as a whole is benefiting from the output of SPRES, this project will carry on benefiting the project partners as a base for other projects, governments, by providing decision making tools, and other stakeholders by promoting sustainable development of marine resources.

The partners of the project are research institutions and non-profit organisations from Spain, France, Portugal and United Kingdom. A combined effort between the partner countries will allow achieving a much greater progress than separate country actions, thus establishing common standard that will contribute to the improvement of interconnections between territories.

The project has as associated partners, the Ministry of Environment of the Government of Cantabria, the Directorate of Civil Protection of Cantabria, the Aveiro Port Authority, the Centre Hidrographic Region of Portugal, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the African Maritime Safety and Security Agency.

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VIGES2. Establishes the development of specific protocols for assessing the ecological status of water bodies in the coastal environment of discharges inareas  surrounding outfalls. (CTM2008-04649/Tecno). 2008-2011. MEC. National R + D + I (2008-2011)

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires Member States to protect, enhance and restore all bodies of surface water in order to achieve at least "good status" by 2015. This raises, among other actions, the need to establish "operational control" in those water bodies at the risk of failing their environmental objectives, as would be the case of areas in which there are sewage discharges due to outfalls. To respond to this need, this project seeks to standardize and validate specific protocols for the evaluation of the chemical and ecological status of coastal water bodies in the area of influence of outfall discharges. Within this framework, we have developed VIGES2. 

The specific objectives of the project are:

To develop a procedure to limit thearea affected by outfall discharges while integrating the randomness of different hydrometeorological phenomena associated with pollutant dispersion.

To develop and standardize procedures for the assessment of biological indicators (phytoplankton, macroalgae and invertebrates) applicable to the quantification of the effects of discharges from outfalls.

To select and confirm the most appropriate and sensitive procedures for the evaluation of the chemical and ecological status of water bodies in outfall affected coastal areas.

To transfer the results, using standardized procedures, to train managers and planners working on the Cantabrian coast.




VIGES2. Desarrollo de protocolos específicos para la evaluación del estado ecológico de las masas de agua costeras en el entorno de incluencia de vertidos de emisarios submarinos. (CTM2008-04649/Tecno). 2008-2011. MEC. Plan Nacional I+D+I (2008-2011)

La Directiva Marco del Agua (DMA) exige a los Estados Miembros proteger, mejorar y restaurar todas las masas de agua superficiales con el fin de alcanzar al menos el "Buen estado" para el año 2015. Para ello plantea, entre otras actuaciones, la necesidad de establecer "controles operativos" en aquellas masas de agua en riesgo de incumplir sus objetivos medioambientales, tal y como sería el caso de las zonas sometidas a vertidos de aguas residuales a través de emisarios submarinos. Con el fin de dar respuesta a esta necesidad, el presente proyecto trata de estandarizar y validar protocolos específicos para la evaluación del estado químico y del estado ecológico de las masas de agua costeras en el entorno de influencia de vertidos de emisarios submarinos. Dentro de este marco conceptual, se ha desarrollado el poryecto VIGES2, cuyos objetivos específicos son los siguientes:

  • Desarrollar un procedimiento para la delimitación del entorno de afección de los vertidos de emisarios submarinos que integre la aleatoriedad de los diferentes fenómenos hidrometeorológicos asociados a los fenómenos de dispersión de contaminantes.
  • Desarrollar y estandarizar procedimientos para la evaluación de indicadores biológicos (fitoplancton, macroalgas e invertebrados) aplicables a la cuantificación de los efectos producidos por vertidos de emisarios submarinos.
  • Seleccionar y validar los procedimientos más adecuados y sensibles para la evaluación del estado químico y ecológico de las masas de agua costeras en el entorno de afección de los vertidos por emisario submarino.
  • Transferir los resultados obtenidos, en forma de procedimientos estandarizados, a los gestores competentes en el ámbito de las Demarcaciones Hidrográficas del litoral Cantábrico.
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Study of key aspects to determine environmental flows in estuaries.

Qest is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation within the National R&D+i (2008) in effect between 2009 and 2012, the work carried out by  IH Cantabria on environmental flows in rivers, highlighted the importance of extending these studies to the estuarine zone, where the existence of a unique physical and ecological conditions, require the development of specific methodologies.

Among these critical points to be considered in these areas include:

the difficulty of the numerical models of transport and mixing of salinity for shallow estuaries function of total mixture

lack of biological models that quantify the response of species to salinity changes in the transitional waters of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the essential thresholding flow.

The project's main objective is to answer gaps identified within the Qest project creating a methodological approach based on hydraulic, hydrological and biological aspects.

To meet these objectives, the project involves the tasks detailed below:

  • Adaptation and validation of a two-dimensional transport and mixing model for saline for shallow estuaries dominated by tidal flow.
  • Development of biological models against salinity preference of target species, to predict the response in the distribution of the same against changes in salinity.
  • Analysis of the sensitivity of the main factors involved in the different aspects of the calculation process.
  • Development of a process for the integration of the biological component into the calculation of environmental flow regimes.
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IH Cantabria and the University of Cantabria  are participating in COCONet,  a European project within the Seventh Framework Programme, which aims to promote the sustainable use of coastal areas in the Mediterranean and Black Sea for the production of offshore wind energy.

The project covers many countries, and involves researchers across many different topics, in order to achieve a holistic approach to environmental protection, with over 39 research centers and universities across Europe and the Black Sea and Mediterranean, including Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, France, Germany and Spain among others. Because of the importance of the project and the impact it can have for this innovative sector, the EU has allocated 9,000,000 euros.

As a part of the outreach program, we have produced a 30-min documentary film on CoCoNet, directed by Roberto Rinaldi. It features Marine Protected Areas, ecosystem functioning, and offshore wind farms, with beautiful and colorful footages of both the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Please take a look and show it for various outreach and dissemination activities.



Published in R&D projects

IHCantabria and the University of Cantabria  are participating in COCONet,  a European project within the Seventh Framework Programme, which aims to promote the sustainable use of coastal areas in the Mediterranean and Black Sea for the production of offshore wind energy.

As a part of the outreach program, we have produced a 30-min documentary film on CoCoNet, directed by Roberto Rinaldi. It features Marine Protected Areas, ecosystem functioning, and offshore wind farms, with beautiful and colorful footages of both the Mediterranean and Black Sea.


Published in News


This project results from the collaboration between IH-Cantabria, UDELAR University (Uruguay), the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE, Brazil) to investigate the mechanisms that control dynamic alternative states of shallow lakes belonging to the Cuiabá river floodplain in the Pantanal (Brazil).

The shallow lakes of the Pantanal have a spatial and temporal pattern of complex alternative states, determined in part by the connectivity to other waterways. The tributary water quality, especially turbidity plays a key role in shaping these ecosystems. In this project we are investigating the relationship between flood pulses in the Cuiabá River and morphometric variability, water quality and trophic structure of three shallow lakes using a combination of field surveys and satellite imagery that can reconstruct data sets for over 20 years.

Published in R&D projects
At IH Cantabria we have begun to develop and apply quantitative tools to investigate the evolution morphodynamics of rivers, estuaries and coasts. In particular, we have focused on addressing the coupling between physical and biological processes in a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

We intend to increase the basic knowledge in the area of environmental fluid mechanics and ecohydraulics using a complex systems approach that describes the feedback between biology, hydrodynamics, sediment transport and morphological evolution. In particular,  laboratory experiments and numerical experiments have been united to understand how interactions between hydrodynamics and benthic population result in a variety of complex and unexpected behaviors that affect our ability to predict the long-term evolution of these systems. Regarding the study of the geomorphological evolution of the estuary, the objective is to develop predictive tools, by emphasizing the interactions between vegetation, hydrodynamics and sediment transport (sand and mud).

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globex1Nonlinear transformations undergone by  waves approaching the shore are accompanied by  long period  oscillations induced by the groups of waves.

A wave's nonlinearity is crucial for the transport of sediment accretion making it responsible for beach erosion. While in steep beaches nonlinear processes occur locally, the nonlinearity in extended beaches is significant, as this has the potential of developing over larger temporal and spatial scales.

Currently, there are gaps in the knowledge of many aspects of hydrodynamics related to outstretched beaches propagation and interaction of long and short waves and how these oscillations affect sediment transport. In this context, the GLOBEX (Gently sloping Beach Experiments) project was carried  out within the European program HYDRALAB. Physical experiments were conducted in the Scheldt wave flume channel located in Holland in which a beach with a concrete slope of 1:80 was built.

The goals of the project were to focus on the study of some of the main aspects of the nonlinearity of the waves, long wave dissipation in the surf zone, wave speed and boundary layer dynamics. The high spatial and temporal resolution adopted during the tests was collected in an extensive database used to improve understanding of the hydrodynamic processes in beaches.

Published in R&D projects
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