The mission of this cluster is to carry out basic and applied research towards monitoring, improved understanding and management of Qatar’s natural, coastal and built environments. This cluster adopts robust, innovative and an inter-disciplinary approach and it extends its geospatial analytical capabilities to other research clusters in the center, in the areas of marine and atmospheric sciences. It also offers expert consultancy services of highest quality to the wider academic communities, as well as to the public and private sectors in the country and the region.
The nature of this research cluster is interdisciplinary, and it aims to develop an integrated understanding of the Earth’s terrestrial and geological systems in the State of Qatar and the wider region. This will be achieved by understanding the past changes and the current processes which will facilitate the forecast of future scenarios and perspectives. The main research themes within this cluster are outlined below:
- Integrated analysis of land use and land use changes: Qatar is placing its land resources and living environment under ever greater stress due to accelerated economic development and fast population growth. Research in this area aims to advance our understanding of land use change in Qatar using spatial, temporal and multi-sectoral perspectives where spatial models for simulating landuse change scenarios are applied and adapted to the local settings.
- Land-sea interactions in the coastal zone: To investigate the natural and anthropogenic processes operating in the coastal zones in Qatar using numerical modelling and fieldwork methods, where seismic survey, remote sensing & GIS techniques, wave, and current measurement can be implemented. This work may ultimately lead to develop environmental management applications such as the assessments of shoreline and coastal erosion.
- Vegetation cover and soil mapping: Soil and natural vegetation are valuable but limited national resources, which can be damaged and lost. The climate in Qatar is arid, and its natural environment is very fragile, where soil and natural vegetation have been fast degrading over the past few decades. This research theme will focus on understanding the spatial extent and impacts of potentially-significant degradation threats to the soils and natural vegetation in the country which essential guidance to decision-makers.
- Water & groundwater resources: Qatar is located in the desert belt and in the arid climate zone, where groundwater is the only source of non-renewable freshwater in the country that sustained its population for centuries. This water resource has been fast depleting due to constant pumping to meet growing needs, and water quality has deteriorated due to saltwater intrusion. Climate change, global warming and high rate of population growth are the major factors threatening groundwater regime. This research cluster has strong research capabilities and expertise in the areas of geology, geophysics, hydrogeology, hydrology, GIS and remote sensing which multidisciplinary research to tackle challenges to surface and groundwater. Research is committed to preserve and sustain water resources through a detailed characterization of these resources and a better understanding of water demands/challenges.
- Climate change and global warming: Climate change is having/will have an adverse effect on food system, economy, communities and urban centers in Qatar. Understanding and predicting the changes of the climate towards the end of this century is vital for the economy, development and society in the country. At the moment, no national or regional climate change models exist, thus, this work will focus on the development of such national/regional model through the process of downscaling of established global climate projections. In addition, adaptation research will be carried out into areas such as sustainable development of freshwater/groundwater ecosystems and adaptation of built environment.