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The North Sea Coast - in Transition

The North Sea and its coast provide unique habitats for numerous plants and animals. Impact from land, such as nutrient input from rivers, as well as impact from the sea, such as sea level rise and storm floods, shape the ecologically singular transition zone on the coast. The natural processes of the North Sea are in numerous ways connected to the well-being of human societies. Recurrent issues are safety of transportation (e.g., extreme waves, or hazardous spills), coastal defense against storm surges and a slowly rising sea level, or morphology changes due to sediment transport. In recent decades, enormous changes in North Sea material cycles and ecosystems have been detected. Overfishing, nutrient and pollutant input, migration of new species and climatic changes have been playing a role.

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Arctic Coasts

In the Arctic, the influence of a changing climate is already visible: the sea ice cover, for instance, has been shrinking during the last decades. Major anticipated consequences include: a largely ice-free Arctic Ocean in the summer or higher erosion of permafrost cliffs due to increased wave activity. Higher concentrations of nutrients as well as dissolved and particulate matter will change the productivity of phytoplankton in coastal waters. In addition, emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from the thawing permafrost could influence the global climate.

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The Global Coast

The “global coast” the importance of the coastal oceans for large-scale processes will become a focus of COSYNA. Among the topics of interest are the carbon exchange between the coastal seas and the open ocean as part of the global carbon cycle and the ocean's energy budget as one of the important influences on worldwide climate For investigating these questions and similar issues, COSYNA develops and builds mobile measurement stations, which can be utilised in research projects all over the world. The data obtained is analysed and fed into computer models. This serves not only to examine and improve the models, but the data can also be used to describe and understand central processes and mechanisms in the coastal seas.

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