This area of research is focused on two major subjects
This line led to the participation in the MARINET project, funded in the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union, and in collaboration with several Italian institutions, such as RSE or the Port Authority of Civitavecchia, Fiumicino and Gaeta
This area of research is focused on two major subjects: analysis of the value of natural capital associated to marine ecosystems and the study of marine renewable energy, with particular reference to the characterization of suitable sites for experimentation. This line of research consist of the creation of a Sea-Use Map, which is an instrument that collects different layers of information and products that can be used as a reference model, both in scientific research projects and to support the government in the programming and management of the coastal area. It is therefore a work of synthesis and finalization, in which also converge the results of other lines of research.
As for the value of natural capital, the approach is based on the knowledge of the ecosystems and the study of ecological processes at the base of many services and benefits that humans receive from ecosystems.
When considering, for example, the seagrass Posidonia oceanica, very widespread in the investigation areas, it plays a key role both ecologically and from an anthropogenic point of view. For example, through photosynthesis P. oceanica meadows produce oxygen, while sequestering carbon dioxide; they offer protection and nursery, reproduction and deposition areas for many species of high interest for fishing; through the leaf structures, P. oceanica meadows are capable of dissipating wave energy and trap sediment, contributing to the erosion protection of the coastline; they also improve coastal waters quality, both through biological control and making more clear and oxygenated waters. Moreover, associated biological communities, both at leaf level and, above all, at rhizomes and roots levels, are able to metabolize various potentially harmful substances.
The delivery of such benefits encompasses complex ecological processes that constitute its base, but it has the advantage of being a simple information that can be used on a political level in the decision-making processes (eg. site evaluation and introduction of a new use in coastal systems). The Sea-Uses Map is also the ideal starting point in computational studies of the economic ecosystems value.
With regard to non-biological resources, this line of research has focused primarily on the study of marine renewables. Particularly, the aim of the study is the integration of converters in coastal systems. This aspect is studied from the point of view of the impact on natural systems, the possible usage conflicts for space and coastal resources and the distribution of available energy along the coast. For this purpose, computational studies are performed on the potential associated to wave motion, through the collection and production of data and through the usage of numerical modeling, capable of simulating the propagation of waves in coastal waters.