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Inria and Cemagref pool their expertise in order better to understand the complexity of environmental phenomena

Michel Cosnard, Inria Chairman and CEO, and Roger Genet, CEO of Cemagref, have signed a partnership agreement strengthening collaboration between the two organisations on applied research projects concerning environmental problems. This agreement demonstrates the multi-disciplinary approach required of scientists faced with complex environmental problems. The synergies between environmental sciences and computational sciences will be a powerful lever to help meet the challenges posed by global changes and to ensure sustainable development.

There are many scientific challenges to be met in order to adapt to environmental phenomena such as climate change, problems in accessing fresh water, erosion and soil pollution, and changes in coastal areas… Yet, in the environment as in many other disciplines, modelling and simulation, together with observation and detection, allow the complex phenomena in play to be studied with greater accuracy.

Computational sciences and environmental sciences: essential synergies

The aim of the agreement signed today between Inria and Cemagref is to develop collaborations between computational science experts and environmental science experts. Each partner is developing additional competencies. Cemagref has the capacity to develop tools for modelling and viewing environmental systems and for storing and searching for information. Inria has expertise in applied mathematics and in the development of tools and methods in computer science.

 « Applied mathematics and computer science now play a decisive role in understanding environmental problems. These disciplines make it possible to study highly complex natural phenomena with an ever greater level of accuracy. The approach pursued with Cemagref will help to develop knowledge in computational and environmental sciences, and to meet the great challenges of our time  »  said Michel Cosnard, Chairman and CEO of Inria
« We have to adopt a genuinely interdisciplinary approach encompassing the best specialists, and move away from the compartmentalised approach to science that has traditionally prevailed in our country. That is part of the reason for our agreement,’ explained Roger Genet, CEO of Cemagref. ‘The research problems tackled by Cemagref are very real and have high social stakes: from sustainable territorial development, to prevention of natural risks such as floods, avalanches and forest fires. We are still severely lacking in tools for analysing, modelling and forecasting these phenomena.  »

A partnership based on two major areas of collaboration: research and innovation

The fruits of this collaboration will make it possible to design and develop analysis and storage tools to:

  • Model and predict environmental phenomena,
  • Analyse scenarios and assess the pertinence of a given environmental policy,
  • Devise prevention and adaptation strategies for risk situations.

Inria and Cemagref are also committed to working together to strengthen their links with industry in order to promote technology transfer.
The aim is to propose solutions to innovative players in the field of the environment and sustainable development.

FLUMINANCE, the first Inria-Cemagref joint team

Analyse des flux de Fluides © Équipe Fluminance/ INRIA

Atmospheric turbulence: Comprising researchers from both Inria and Cemagref, the FLUMINANCE team was born out of a previous collaboration between the two organisations via the European project FLUID, coordinated in 2004 by Etienne Mémin, Senior Research Scientist at Inria and now head of the FLUMINANCE team.
Based in Rennes, the team’s work focuses on studying methods for the measurement, analysis and control of fluid flows based on image sequences. The aim is, on the one hand, to develop image sequence processing methods for the analysis and description of fluid flows and, on the other hand, to propose operational models and tools to extract characteristic attributes of the flows for control, inspection or analysis purposes.
The ultimate objective of FLUMINANCE is to provide experts with computerised methodological tools providing reliable forecasts in a controlled experimental framework.

Three main fields of application are concerned at present:

  • Geophysical flows, or how to develop analysis methods to prevent very short-term meteorological phenomena, measure ocean currents or monitor waterways, etc.
  • Industrial fluid mechanics, or how to analyse the flows generated by an industrial process or the wake of an object such as the profile of an aircraft wing.
  • Interaction with flows, or how to farm sustainably (controlled pesticide sprinkling), adjust the settings of a wind farm according to local climatic conditions, or reduce drag in the wake of a vehicle



the French national institute for research in computer science and control, is a publicly-owned establishment dedicated to science and technology, operating under the dual authority of the Ministry of Research and the Ministry of Industry. It had an annual budget in 2010 of €217 million, of which 21% represented its own resources. Inria operates eight research centers, in Paris, Sophia Antipolis, Grenoble, Nancy, Rennes, Bordeaux, Lille and Saclay. Its 3,150 researchers are working in over 170 project teams, mostly in collaboration with other bodies, Grandes Ecoles and universities. Altogether, it employs 4,100 people throughout France and has links with 80 teams worldwide. It has been involved in forming over a hundred companies since 1984.


A public organisation under the joint supervision of the ministries of research and agriculture, Cemagref conducts environmental research throughout France. This proactive institution focuses on three major social challenges: sustainable management of water and territories, natural hazards and environmental quality.
With an overall budget of €110 million, 30% of which is its own resources, Cemagref employs 1600 people including 950 scientists, spread among 9 centres in France and 25 research units.
A well established part of the French and European research scene, it conducts its research in support of public policies and in partnership with industry (130 research contracts). It is involved in some ten competitiveness clusters. In 2006, it was awarded the Carnot label for all of its activities.

Keywords: Partnership Fluminance Press release Applied Mathematics Computational sciences