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COSYNA provides research infrastructure enabling research on a wide range of temporal and spatial scales, from extreme events to long-term trends, from small scale turbulence to North Sea-wide processes and applied to coastal areas worldwide. COSYNA addresses a variety of fundamental research questions of coastal and operational oceanography such as the interaction of physical, biogeochemical and biological processes and dynamics of the North Sea, the Wadden Sea and adjacent river estuaries. But what exactly is the influence of such processes on, for example, carbon budgets in the North Sea, what are their ramifications for regional carbon cycles and their interaction with the North Atlantic? The North Sea system has always been shaped by extreme events such as storms and river floods. How important are such events for the physical and biogeochemical environment and how do they influence general trends? These and similar questions are subject to research in COSYNA.


Numerous scientific papers are published in the context of COSYNA.


COSYNA is involved in MOSES (Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems), a research initiative of nine Helmholtz Centres from the “Earth and Environment” research field that provide sensor and observing systems which are combined into “modules”.
MOSES modules measure environmental states and fluxes as well as processes related to energy, water, nutrient and greenhouse gas cycles by utilizing a cross-compartmental approach. The modules are being set up to integrate observations in the atmosphere, at the land surface, in coastal regions, in the ocean and in the cryosphere. COSYNA partakes in the hydrological extremes event chain, while it provides logistic support for the ocean eddies event chain

Global Coast

Coastal waters, a region of the ocean, contribute to global processes in many ways. The “global coast”—the importance of the coastal oceans for large-scale processes—is a focus of study in 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. The objective is to describe coastal sea processes for specific regions as well as for the "global coast".

Using COSYNA Data: Elbe River Flood 2013

Within the context of the predicted and observed increase in droughts and floods with climate change, large summer floods are likely to become more frequent. These extreme events can alter typical biogeochemical patterns in coastal systems. The extreme Elbe River flood in June 2013 not only caused major damages in several European countries but also generated large-scale biogeochemical changes in the Elbe estuary and the adjacent German Bight. Data from COSYNA and other sources captured the flood influence on the German Bight. The investigation by Voynova et al. (2017) is a prime example for the usefulness of COSYNA data. It made use of data collected at the stationary Cuxhaven FerryBox in the Elbe estuary, from a FerryBox aboard the M/V Funny Girl ferry (traveling between Büsum and Helgoland) and combined them with a variety of data from other research institutions and federal agencies.

Using COSYNA Data: Carbon Budgets in the North Sea

Many global problems influence in particular the ecosystems and communities along the coasts. Coastal regions on the other hand provide the ‘boundary conditions’ for the deep ocean. As part of our research focus area Global Coast COSYNA will investigate the relevance of coastal waters for global processes, such as carbon exchange processes with the open ocean as well as carbon budgets. COSYNA uses data and numerical model runs to analyze carbon budgets for coastal areas and their variability, especially with regard to exchange processes with river systems and their watersheds, the Wadden Sea and the open ocean, as well as changing air-sea gas exchange patterns in particular areas and their underlying physical, biogeochemical and biological causes.

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