Research Needs

The Environmental Research Needs Register is an organised listing of gaps in our understanding of the emirate’s environmental system and its interactions with socio-economic systems .


It also  assists stakeholders to understand the link between research and sustainable development of the emirate.



EAD Priority Area Question
 Research Question
Conserve Groundwater And Actively Contribute To Integrated Water Management In Abu Dhabi Determine the impacts, including cumulative, of the various agricultural industries, different agricultural practices and other industries on the quality and quantity of water resources Determine the location, size and level of contamination in aquifers Abu Dhabi has got it's groundwater quality baseline in 2018. But how good are we in understanding and assessing the groundwater quality trends? Determine the most effective triggers (-ve & +ve) of water consumer behaviour Development of spatial zoning for groundwater, with protection limits for each zone, in order to have differential protection for agriculture, forestry and natural ecosystems. Determine how social, political and economic factors affect water resources and identify those factors that have the most impact on changes in water resources
Protect Air Quality What are the effects of air quality on health in Abu Dhabi emirate? Which fixed and mobile emission sources should be prioritized for new or revised regulation and why? How to reduce exposure of population to harmful doses of ambient air pollution and indoor air pollution. How to reduce exposure of population and wildlife to harmful noise levels in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. How to predict the impact on the population and environment in cases of accidental chemical releases/emergencies? Design method and mechanisms to inform vulnerable populations of upcoming episodes of high air pollution.
Mitigate Climate Change And Adapt To Its Impacts Which elements of biodiversity in which locations are most vulnerable/resilient to climate change, including extreme events? 2 How is the resilience of ecosystems to climate change affected by human activities and interventions? What are the GHG future scenarios important for avoiding unsustainable development pathways, what are the economic and externality implications, and how can the acceptable pathways be reached by the government, corporates and indiviuals? Conduct studies to assess the vulnerability of human populations and ecosystems to climate change Based on AGEDI and most recent studies need to determine how to integrate natural ecosystems into GHG inventories and NDCs; also quantify changes on GHGs when natural ecosystems are lost.
Ensure Integrated Management of Waste in Abu Dhabi to Protect The Environment How to identify the value and income of the dumped waste in return to industries What is the most effective way to convince the public, Youth to reduce and recycle their waste
Protect Quality of Marine Water to Preserve Ecosystems and Public Health Full Cost Accounting of Brine Discharge into the Arabian Gulf Assess impacts on water quality and ecosystem functioning from plastics, microplastics and other contaminants Assess feasibility of brine use to support reductions in brine discharges Financial impact assesment of water quality deterioration scenarios (salinity, pH, contaminants, temperatures) an water desalination treatment costs Investigate the oceanographic and bathymetric patterns of the coastal and marine environment
Ensure Sustainable and Integrated Approaches to Protecting Land and Soil Identify areas at risk from erosion and identify causes How are arid and semi-arid ecosystems affected by the interaction of multiple stressors such as grazing by domestic livestock, soil erosion, and drought? At what spatial and temporal scales are management or policy interventions most likely to achieve various objectives for conservation of land  cover? Investigate utilising the technology of remote sensing and drones to perform monitoring, assessment and mapping of soil quality with the incorporation of the use of artificial intelligence models to analyze data, find relations and patterns, identify and forecast soil quality scenarios.
Ensure Effective and Evidence-based Planning and Regulation for Abu Dhabi’s Biodiversity Improve knowledge of the abundance and distribution, habitat utilisation, threatening processes, conservation status indicators of key species What is the size of a minimum viable population for a target species? What are the spatial requirements of a target species (e.g. home range size, dispersal distance, minimum habitat patch size and critical inter-patch distance, minimum viable area for population persistence)? In which ways are indigenous species affected by neobiota? Collect population dynamics and habitat requirements information on threatened terrestrial species such as  Marine turtles, Dugong, dolphins, Arabian Tahr, Sand Cat, Socotra Cormorant, Sooty Falcons, Crab Plovers and other key species What are the impacts of  fragmentation on distribution, abundance of key species? What is the reliance of natural vegetation on groundwater? What is the depth limit of groundwater in order to maintain the current natural vegetation? Species inventories, ecological assessments, habitat use/human activities, threatening processes and conservation status indicators required. Assess the impact of anthropogenic pressures on terrestrial and marine biodiversity, in particular critical habitats  (Determine the implications of loss or decline of important habitats on the extent of species abundance and distributions) Gap analysis of key habitat extent and species distribution under protection (Determine the proportion of populations and their ranges protected (within Pas) for 25 flagship species in Abu Dhabi and need for further conservation actions) Ecosystem Services Assessment of natural desert rangelands/ critical terrestrial habitats Socio economic assessment of livestock farms to evaluate whether their social or economic values justify their environmental cost ( Cost benefit analysis). Conduct cost-benefit analyses of tourism investments vs the value of ecosystem services
Improve Implementation of In-situ Conservation and Build a Representative Network of Protected Areas Valuation of the important ecosystems (Ideally the 15 selected habitats), to answer questions as: what is the accepted trade-off of the development project impact on these habitats? How effective are different types of protected areas (e.g., strict nature reserves, hunting reserves, and national parks) at conserving biodiversity and providing ecosystem services? What are the human well-being costs and benefits of protected areas, how are these distributed, and how do they vary with governance, resource tenure arrangements, and site characteristics? Determine if species of conservation concern use or need biological corridors, and if so, determine the minimum corridor specifications for any given species Density and abundance of rare and environmentally sensitive species in ecosystems with a history of presence which have no formal protection but are under threat from future development (eg Empty quarter). Information to be used to assess ecosystem health. How can protected area networks be designed to increase carbon storage benefits and mitigate climate impacts, with these benefits as incentives to support conservation actions? Which management actions are most effective for ensuring the long-term survival of coral reefs in response to the combined impacts of climate change and other existing stressors? How will ocean acidification affect marine biodiversity and ecosystem function, and what measures could mitigate these effects? Determination of home range and habitat use of elusive and sensitive species (eg Sand Cat) in protected areas as a measure of ecosystem health and ecoystem requirements for protected areas. Have populations of indicator species changed from historical records and what are the causes attributed to this change. Information will provide the success of current proptection and management practices. Do critical thresholds exist at which the loss of species diversity, or the loss of particular species, disrupts ecosystem functions and services, and how can these thresholds be predicted? What was the condition of ecosystems before significant human disruption, and how can this knowledge be used to improve current and future management? How can ecosystem management systems be designed to better emulate natural processes, notably natural disturbance regimes, and to what extent does this improve conservation effectiveness? What are the impacts of pest species on island ecosystems in the Arabian Gulf in particular islands with no formal management. Studies on impact and tolerance to marine discharges (effluents and thermal). Sediment tolerance limits of coastal marine habitats Research to identify appropriate indicator species of environmental impacts of key marine habitats
Lead Ex-situ Conservation Efforts to Maintain Sustainable Populations of Key Flora and Fauna Whilst the existing data has been used to inform the 'Guidelines for Artificial Reefs' there are many alternative materials and configurations and designs that have yet to be assessed To what extent can habitat restoration or rehabilitation compensate for loss of quantity or quality of existing species’ habitat?
Sustainably Manage Fisheries And Aquaculture in Abu Dhabi Investigate population processes and assess long-term viability of populations of key species, including game species, in the context of legal and illegal extraction Determine the status, distribution and abundance and size of key commercial fish species within and outside MPAs Determine size limits for key commerical fish species Determine population and stock structure, and source of larval supply for key species' stocks What is the role of key habitat types (throughout fish lifecycle) and how can spatial management tools support fish population recovery?
Deliver Scientifically Credible Environmental Information & Knowledge How to efficiently bridge the research-implementation gap?
Promote Environmental Education and Shared Responsibility What drives positive environmental behaviour? What are the most critical enablers for government and private sector entities to advance resource efficiency and environment protection?
Strengthen Abu Dhabi’s Environmental Policy & Planning Framework Determine the effect of various land-use practices on geo-morphology and hydrology Determine how social, political and economic factors affect critical habitat cover and identify those factors that have the most impact on critical habitat cover changes Determine how social, political and economic factors affect key species population status and identify those factors that have the most impact on changes in key species populations
Improve the Environment Regulatory Framework and Enhance Compliance Establish the toxicology of pollutants to humans and biodiversity