Research institute for geo-hydrological protection (IRPI)

Research activities

The Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection (Istituto di Ricerca per la Protezione Idrogeologica - IRPI) is an institute of the Department of Earth System Sciences and Technology for the Environment (DTA), of the Italian National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, CNR). The mission of the institute is to design and execute scientific research and technological development in the fields of natural hazards, environmental protection, and the sustainable use of geo-resources. IRPI carries out its mission by operating at different geographical and temporal scales, and in different climatic, physiographic and geological zones.

Our research & development activities focus on natural hazards, and specifically geo-hydrological hazards, including floods and flash floods, debris flows, landslides, erosion, hazards in glacial and coastal areas, ground subsidence, pollution and depletion of surface water and groundwater, and on the expected impact of climate change on the geo-hydrological hazards and the geo-resources. The primary goal is to improve current knowledge on geological, geomorphological, hydrological, hydraulic, hydrogeological, soil, seismic, geotechnical, geomechanical, geothermal and environmental issues, and to define new criteria, methods, models and tools for the prediction and prevention of geo-hydrological hazards and their consequences, for the definition and mitigation of geo-hydrological risks, and for the design of effective and sustainable adaptation strategies.

We work in multiple fields of the geo-sciences operating at different spatial and temporal scales, with the goal of improving the understanding of geo-hydrologic hazards, including floods and flash floods, debris flows and landslides, soil erosion, glacial, karst and coastal processes, ground subsidence, availability and pollution of surface water and groundwater. Our aim is to define new and innovative criteria, methods, models and tools for the prediction and prevention of geo-hydrologic hazards and their consequences, the mitigation of geo-hydrologic risks, the assessment and the exploitation of the geo-resources, and the design of effective & sustainable adaptation strategies. With this respect our activities are of scientific interest and societal relevance. This motivates young scientists willing to make a difference in the geo-sciences.

Modern investigation of geo-hydrological hazards poses challenging problems that require diversified expertizes. Our most effective groups are multi-disciplinary, have a shared vision and a common language, and strong links with leading national and international research centres and teams. This guaranties that the groups remain at the forefront of their fields. Our scientists are active in national and international communities e.g., as editors of international journals and in the board of scientific and professional societies. We lead European projects and we participate to international, European, national and local projects. This gives us visibility and allows young researchers to gain experience and international visibility.

For our work we exploit consolidated techniques, and we design and experiment new methods and techniques. We maintain active collaborations with large enterprises and SMEs, and we engage in technology development and brokering, transfer of knowledge and dissemination. We provide high-level professional services on natural and environmental hazards and risks to national and foreign public authorities and private businesses. As a Centre of Competence for the national Department for Civil Protection we have access to unique datasets and are in the frontline when large geo-hydrological events occur. This gives us unique opportunities to test our products & services, and young researchers the possibility to study geo-hydrological hazards and to test innovative solutions. The lessons learnt are useful in private/industry sectors.

Our strongest groups study meteorological and hydrologic processes & events and their consequences, the dynamics of sediment in mountain environments, landslide detection/mapping using remote sensing, methods for landslide forecasting and hazard & risk assessment, and the integrated monitoring/modelling of complex slope phenomena. The leading groups balance basic and applied research, execute extensive fieldwork, and exploit modern technologies including numerical and GIS modelling, remote sensing, ICT, and large geographical databases ("big data").