- Modeling and Control of Environmental Systems
Environmental Impact Assessment
The LASA Research Group belongs to the Department of Industrial Engineering (DII) of the University of Padua. LASA is the acronym for "Laboratorio di Analisi dei Sistemi Ambientali" (Environmental Systems Analysis Lab). The research group is directed by Prof. Luca Palmeri.
LASA carries out research, through both monitoring and mathematical modeling, on water quality, diffuse pollution, ecology and environmental status of most types of aquatic ecosystems, including freshwater, saltwater and transitional water bodies, with an applied focus on the reduction of human impacts and on management strategies. LASA carries out all the phases of the "supply chain" of environmental data: its staff carries out environmental monitoring through field surveys and subsequent analysis of the collected samples in the chemical laboratory, and then the collected datasets are used to construct mathematical models of environmental processes and ecosystems. This holistic approach allows researchers to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each phase of the "supply chain" and create efficient tools providing practical support to enviromental decision-making and resources management.
The staff of LASA includes both modelers and field/laboratory technicians with varied scientific backgrounds such as physicists, biologists and engineers. LASA is scientific consultant for public bodies and private enterprises concerned with the quality of water bodies and their management, and continually collaborates with land reclamation consortia (“Consorzi di Bonifica”), regional/national environmental protection agencies and the local regional government. LASA has extensive experience in international research, having been regularly involved over the past years in EU projects (FP5, FP6, FP7, LIFE, INTERREG) mostly dealing with the functioning and sustainable management of wetlands, rivers, coastal zones and marine ecosystems.
Recent research at LASA includes: monitoring/modeling of nutrient loads discharged to surface water bodies (e.g. Venice lagoon, Adriatic Sea) and generated by natural/human processes in catchments; diffuse pollution of water bodies; energy, nutrient and pollutant cycling in water bodies; monitoring/modeling of aquatic primary production; eutrophication models; fishery models; food web models; ecotoxicological models of rivers; analysis of long term ecological time series; design, monitoring and modeling of multi-functional reconstructed water treatment wetlands; monitoring of river, channel and wetland waters; integrated water resources management; modeling of aquatic ecosystems and ecosystem services; economic valuation of ecosystem services; integrated approaches to the management of water bodies in coastal zones; air quality and odor dispersion modeling.
LASA is equipped with chemical laboratory facilities in Padova including technical instrumentation for water quality
analysis, with field sampling instrumentation and with a computer modelling
History and experiences
LASA was founded at the beginning of the 1980’s by a group of researchers working on reduction and
modelling of diffuse pollution from agricultural activities. The director was prof. Franco Zingales (then director of the Institute of Industrial Chemistry).
Initial research focused on nutrient loads discharged into the Lagoon of Venice generated by agricultural activities
in the drainage basin of the Lagoon. Under the direction of Prof. Giuseppe Bendoricchio, research activities focused more generally on modelling and control of environmental systems. At present, LASA is coordinated by Prof. Luca Palmeri. Over its four decades of activity, LASA has carried out research on:
- evolution of agricultural diffuse pollutant
loads into the Lagoon of Venice
- modelling agricultural diffuse pollution at
- evolution of pollutant loads in the Lake of
- modelling of the nutrient loads evolution at
- modelling of macroalgal and acquatic plants
- monitoring Ulva and Zostera growth cycle;
- modelling eutrophication of surface waters;
- management of groundwater level for the
reduction of agricultural nitrogen loads;
- wetlands reconstruction for the improvement of
the quality of surface waters;
- monitoring of river and lagoon waters;
- design and fulfilment of biologic experiment at
field- and lab-scale;
- modelling of aquatic food webs and ecosystems to support management (e.g. of fisheries, nutrient enrichment, pollution);
- analysis of long-term ecological time-series;
- ecotoxicological modelling of riverine and lagoon food webs;
- monitoring, modelling, risk assessment and management of emerging contaminants;
- mapping, modelling and valuation of ecosystem services;
- integrated water resources management;
- modelling of the atmospheric dispersion of pollutants and odour emissions;
- integrated approaches to the management of water bodies (lagoons, rivers) combining environmental conservation with socio-economic uses of ecosystems and stakeholder participation;
International projects and other activities
LASA has been involved in several European research projects:
- MAST 2 – Marine Universal Structural Model, for the study of structural dynamic of acquatic systems;
- JEP TEMPUS – with Slovenian partners, for
technology exchange in the envrionmental modelling;
- STD 3 – with Philippines, for the ecosystemic
study of the sustainable management of Laguna de Bay (Philippines)
- TMR –
research network between seven European laboratories on WET (Wetland Ecology
and Technology) topic;
- EUROCAT – European research project (FP5) for the study of the
interaction between river catchement and coastal zones and evaluation of
ELME – European research project (FP6) for the
evaluation of lifestyle impact on marine ecosystems.
- INCOFISH – European research project (FP6) for the integration of multiple
demands on coastal zones, with emphasis on aquatic ecosystems and fisheries.
- KnowSeas – European research project (FP7) with the goal of providing
a comprehensive scientific knowledge base and practical guidance
for the application of the Ecosystem Approach to the sustainble development
of Europe’s regional seas.
- TRAP –
an INTERREG IV C project (LASA was involved as subcontractor). The Territories of Rivers Action Plans (TRAP) project was about bringing together
river basin and landscape protection, with regional growth models and solutions; this is called "integrated river and river territory development".
The overarching ambition of the TRAP project was to collect, analyse, transfer and disseminate good practices in river basin and territory management
in the Thematic Areas of Governance, Monitoring, Aquatic Environment and River Tourism.
- WSTORE2 –
a Life+ Environment Policy and Governance project for
reconciling agriculture with environment through a new water governance
in coastal and saline areas; the project focused on the natural area of Vallevecchia, near Caorle (NE Italy)
[Internal Data Server]
- LIFE VIMINE –
A Life+ Nature project for the definition and application of an integrated approach to
the sustainable conservation of the salt marshes ("barene") of the Lagoon of Venice; the project run from 02/09/2013 to 01/09/2017 and was
coordinated by LASA - DII.
- LIFE PHOENIX –
A Life+ Environment and Resource Efficiency project aiming to demonstrate how a new interinstitutional governance system,
supported through innovative forecast tools based on monitoring, can manage risks related to
the diffusion of persistent mobile organic contaminants – with a particular focus on
PerFluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) – more effectively and efficiently. The project started on 01/09/2017 and is ongoing.
LASA is partner of the Smart Rivers Network Action Group - European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water).
Proposed by the Europe 2020 Innovation Union flagship initiative, EIP's aim to speed up innovations that contribute to solving societal challenges, enhance Europe's competitiveness and contribute to job creation and economic growth.
The Smart Rivers Network Action Group promotes multi-stakeholder participative governance in the management of European hydrologic basins.
LASA is partner of the project "Valorizziamo i Canali Cittadini" (2018), led by the City of Padova.
Among other things, this pilot project aims to demonstrate the efficacy and sustainability of a novel management system for the channel network of the historical centre
of Padova which is based on regular actions of ordinary maintenance of the riparian and aquatic environment and the connected green spaces.
Examples of such actions include regular vegetation management and removal of litter and wastes. LASA is in charge of monitoring the benefits of the management
approach, which are environmental (e.g. the regular presence of working staff allows to manage the vegetation of the water-bank interface with more care), social (e.g. creation
of regular local jobs), and economic (e.g. mainly manual labour is needed, which is relatively inexpensive and particularly cost-efficient
in hard-to-access locations such as the banks of the city channels). The project
is co-funded by the City of Padova, Fondo straordinario di solidarietà per il lavoro (CARIPARO), and the project partners.
LASA is scientific consultant for public and private
concerned with water quality, by means of various
research contracts (Consorzio di Bonifica Adige-Bacchiglione, Consorzio
di Bonifica Dese-Sile, Consorzio di Bonifica Bacchiglione-Brenta,
Veneto Agricoltura, Regione Veneto, etc.).
The members of LASA are:
University permanent staff members:
Prof. Luca Palmeri (coordinator, full researcher)
Marco Carrer (laboratory and monitoring technician)
Leonardo Girardi (informatics technician)
Temporary staff members:
(postdoc research fellow)
(postdoc research fellow)
Paola Cocurullo (laboratory technician)
Chiara Ferronato (postdoc research fellow)
Andrea Gredelj (PhD student)
We carry out a research collaboration on air dispersion models and odor nuisance monitoring and modeling with Osmotech srl:
Alberto Pittarello (olfactometry lab, OSMOTECH srl)
Alice Mantovani (olfactometry lab, OSMOTECH srl)
Francesco Favaretto (olfactometry lab, OSMOTECH srl)
LASA carries out
environmental monitoring programmes for the study of the main hydraulic
parameters and various chemicals in aquatic ecosystems. It implements
several monitoring activities, ranging from water sampling (using
available preservation techniques for the samples) to specialized
chemical analysis of the various forms
of pollutants and data processing. Within the Dept. of Industrial Engineering,
LASA cooperates with specialist groups for the analysis of heavy metals
in the different environmental matrices and of organic micropollutants
(PAHs, pesticides, PCB, etc.).
The available facilities for the monitoring of chemical processes in aquatic environments are:
• Equipment for water sampling in different environmental conditions
• ISCO automatic samplers SIGMA and ENDRESS HAUSER
• Flow ISCO
• fluorimeter SCUFA
• Field spectrophotometer
• Spectrophotometer UV - visible
• Multiparameter probes IDRONAUT and WTW
• pH meter-ion-RADIOMETER
LASA is also equipped with a vehicle (field lab) to carry out environmental monitoring field activities.
LASA is involved in didactic
activities on Modelling and Control of Environmental Systems
and Environmental Impact Assessment
and it coordinates apprenticeships and thesis projects for several
Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree students in Environmental Engineering.
Check out our Ecological Processes Handbook
A description of the research of LASA on water quality
(movie in Italian)
LASA and the constructed wetland of Castelnovo Bariano along the Po River, 1995
(100 MB, movie in Italian)
- research and thesis project opportunities at LASA
- LASA leaflet in English (PDF, 28 MB)
and in Italian (PDF, 28 MB)