Science

Coasts, Climate and Society: Research the environment, to keep it liveable

Measurements, models and analyses for crucial prognoses

Corbis

Foto: Cobris

The world’s oceans determine our climate, contain enormous resources of food and raw materials, provide energy and serve as transport routes. Of particular importance are the interfaces where the oceans meet the land – the coasts.

Almost half of the global population lives here. It is also where a large proportion of marine biomass is concentrated and a wide range of flora and fauna thrives. Even though coasts are highly diverse – from mudflats to craggy cliffs – they all have one thing in common: they are shaped by a complex interaction between water, land, atmosphere, flora, fauna and human intervention.

Scientists are investigating these complex interrelationships in detail. They monitor the coastal waters using a dense observation network, measuring aspects such as temperature, plankton content and contaminant concentrations. The data is used to build and verify elaborate computer models, which the experts use to recreate various processes and phenomena – from the flow of the tides to the spread of ship emissions and the growth of plankton in the sea.