Coastal-Observatories

Analysis, monitoring and prediction

The objective of coastal research is to reliably monitor the development of the system “coastal sea” as well as its interacting subsystems, to analyse the potential hazards in a changing environment and to make prognoses about future developments using scenarios based on different options for action. This can only be achieved using  modern, innovative observation methods and state-of-the-art numerical models, linking these with the help of advanced mathematical-statistical methods.

Efficient and economical monitoring systems

Autonomous measurement stations have been operating continuously at several positions in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea for around 15 years. As a first step, the number of these stations should be increased and modified to obtain better time series by increasing the spatial (vertical) and temporal resolution of the measurements as well as the number of parameters measured. In addition there will continue to be a need for measurement campaigns, mostly from ships, in order to focus more precisely on  particular phenomena or processes. Long time series of observations are essential in marine science for identifying and differentiating between variability and long-term change in ecosystems. Complete understanding of the functioning of these usually highly complex ecosystems will, however, continue to be limited by the low density of observational data and the lack of adequate measuring techniques. In this connection, there is a great need for research and development of modern sensors which can operate in autonomous measurement stations.

It would therefore be highly desirable to establish the planned operational network of observation systems for the German coastal seas which can be accessed via internet in real time by diverse users. The development of such an interlinked “observatorium” can only be realised in cooperation with other nations, and it would represent a significant German contribution to international programmes such as Coastal GOOS, GEOSS, GEOHAB and GMES. Since the coasts must be regarded
together with their bordering inland areas for many questions, there are also plans to link Coastal GOOS with a terrestrial observation system (GTOS). Several international organisations (IOC/GOOS, ICES, and GEOSS) are in the process of promoting these developments.

The goals and implementation plans of these programmes, especially Coastal GOOS, envision an important role for Germany, particularly in two areas: in international “capacity building” (e.g. within the framework of the IOC project TEMA) and in the implementation of the so-called “common variables” for the coastal observation system. These comprise, first of all, a basic set of geophysical, chemical and biological parameters. Together with these, for which there should be blanket coverage, there will also be a number of additional variables of interest for the coastal network in certain regions and with reference to specifi c problems. One aspect, which should not be overlooked here, is the opportunity that such an “observatorium” would present for small firms to develop innovative monitoring and information management systems for selected parameters and to test them prior to operation in remote areas such as the Arctic or the tropics.


Excerpt of KDM Memorandum "Changing Coastal Seas - Challenges for Coastal and Shelf Sea Research in Germany"