Increasing development along the coastline and offshore Qatar results in continuous interaction between industrial activities and the biodiverse Qatar Marine Zone. Enhancing the understanding of this environment and the potential for impacts is essential to Qatar. The ExxonMobil Research Qatar (EMRQ) Environmental Management Research Program is working with local and international partners to develop the scientific knowledge needed to better understand environmental risks specific to this region, and is developing technologies to enhance environmental management capabilities. Scientists at EMRQ are using state-of-the-art research labs combined with field studies and eco-risk model development to understand, assess, predict and mitigate potential impacts to the local marine environment that may occur as a result of Qatar's industrial activities. In addition, we are developing state of the art technologies and data acquisition / management systems that will allow for effective identification of baseline environmental resources, monitoring ecosystems to identify change, and analyzing environmental data to support rapid and successful decision making. Taken together, the projects undertaken in this integrated program are supporting Qatar's ability to understand and manage its resources responsibly. Several projects are described in detail within the framework of how the information and tools developed are integrated into the environmental management process. Sensitive ecosystem monitoring, laboratory based ecosystem risk assessment tool development, hydrodynamic modeling, ecological baseline surveys, remote sensing and mapping are the main projects to be discussed. Monitoring Qatari corals and seagrass over the last few years with the use of new technology as well as in-situ temperature monitoring devices has provided insight into the factors affecting these sensitive ecosystems. The development of laboratory based environmental risk studies provides methods to utilize indigenous species to determine the potential effects of chemicals and other parameters in the environment. Three dimensional modeling of hydrodynamic processes in the Qatar marine zone allows visualization of fate and transport of pollutants and can be used to assess and predict impacts. Baseline surveys provide a great deal of data cataloguing biodiversity, and documenting physical and chemical processes in land, sea and the interface in-between. New cutting edge techniques like remote sensing from space born satellites or small autonomous vehicles deployed in the sea allow large or targeted areas to be studied and classified in a more rapid manner than traditional field studies. This data, if properly formatted and managed, allows for accurate mapping and temporal analysis by acquiring imagery at timed intervals. The system used to integrate environmental data and modeling analysis tools is a geographical information system (GIS). In today's world, a single development project can result in tens or hundreds of thousands of electronic files and terabytes of data characterizing the environment. A structured file geo-database and GIS system provides a mechanism to manage and analyze enormous amounts of information and to provide reports and visual tools for managers within government and industry to make informed decisions for environmental management or risk assessment purposes.


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