• Impact of resource extraction activities
    in tropical systems

  • Dynamics of the Earth System
    in greenhouse climates

  • Co-evolution of natural and socials
    systems through time

  • Science can bring a better and
    more sustainable future for all

  • A unique place
    to do amazing research

  • We go to incredible places
    to do impossible things

  • Interdisciplinary advanced research

Research on Anthropogenic Impacts in Natural Systems

Our research is on global change.

We study the impact of human activities on the natural environment.

The approach we adopt is highly interdisciplinary, combining tools from envirionmental chemistry, remote sensing, wildlife observation, and citizen science. We bridge the natural and social sciences to study the Earth System from an integrated perspective.

To achieve this, we have 2 complementary strategies:

  1. characterize the natural dynamics of the Earth system components and their interactions
  2. find out how these dynamics, and the associated processes, are transformed in response to human activities.

We target different spatial and temporal scales to have access to areas and time periods with different levels of anthropogenic impacts (e.g. remote areas, past climate changes).


Featured Projects

January 2019 to September 2022

Up to 11% of worlds rainforests overlap with conventional oil and natural gas reserves. In this context, the occurrence of petroleum-extraction activities in the Amazon and their impact on the environment and those indigenous populations living in the vicinity of these areas has generated a great deal of controversy. A major cause for concern has been the reported high levels of oil-related lead in the blood of members of remote indigenous communities. On a different vein, the use of lead-based ammunition, which in 2003 had a global consumption of 120,000 tons, is a very important source of direct lead release to soil at the global level. This study aims at providing new insights into lead (and other heavy metals) pollution in remote areas of the planet, and at establishing their potential sources.

While the Paris Agreement envision a transition away from fossil fuels, their extraction and the consequent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to intensify, posing serious challenge towards the achievement of the climate policy targets of global mean temperature to remain below to 1.5°C. The total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that should not be exceeded in order to limit average global warming to a 1.5°C limit, a concept known as the remaining carbon budget, is 250 gigatons of CO2 (GtCO2). The CO2 emissions contained in present estimates of global fossil fuel reserves (2,900 gigatons of CO2 or GtCO2) largely exceed the carbon budget for a 1.5°C limit (250 GtCO2), showing that an actual commitment to limit global warming and tackle the climate challenge should lead to large proportions of fossil fuel reserves remaining under the ground. This prompted the discussion on unburnable fuels (or unextractable) internationally. The selection of the fossil fuel resources that need to stay under the ground is a crucial, required and pending step to enact, scaled-up and globally adopt climate policies in a coordinated manner for reaching the climate policy targets. UNBURNED project will fill this gap by identifying and prioritizing at the global level those fossil fuel reserves that should remain unburned so to maximize socio-environmental collateral benefits of climate mitigation policies, while compensating over economical collateral effects. By rigorously studying the geo-spatial socioenvironmental, economic and equity criteria for identifying and prioritizing fossil fuel reserves that need to be left untapped globally, UNBURNED will address the urgent need for interdisciplinary research to understand how the climate change policy targets can be concretely met, contributing to a rapid, economically effective and equitable phase-out of fossil fuel production, while delivering important socio-environmental benefits. Such imperative research will be further exploited to create a flexible and interactive online platform (the atlas of unburnable fuels) to provide a simple guideline for energy corporations and governments on coordinated divestment strategies and future investment to minimize the risks of stranded assets.

December 2019 to November 2023

Tropical climates are changing rapidly in the most populated regions of the planet. The changes largely arise from alterations in the Hadley circulation driven by natural and anthropogenic factors, ...

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