Affiliation with (inter)national research programmes

ECODRIVE will strengthen the European Research Area by bringing together the collective expertise of leading research institutions within Germany, Norway, the UK and the Netherlands in the field of marine science on the topic of “North Sea ecosystem change”. This will be achieved by a series of thematic workshops and reports, and specific targeted research providing a coherent synthesis of the insights gained concerning the impact of various drivers (i.e., climate change and anthropogenic activities) on historical, ongoing and future changes in the structure of the North Sea marine ecosystem.

ECODRIVE contributes to the development of holistic and integrated strategies to ecosystem-based management that were identified as a major research priority for the EU (IPTS-JRC 2000 Mega-challenge 2, Sustainable development) and supported at the highest political levels (e.g. Ministerial Bergen Declaration 2002). Furthermore, the EU is now committed to the contents of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation, including targets to restore depleted marine fish stocks by 2015. To this end, ECODRIVE advances the state of the art in development of medium- to long-term strategic ecosystem-based management by 1) developing methods to disentangle the impact of climate change, fisheries and other anthropogenic activities on marine living resources, and 2) created “informed proxies” of response employed in scenario tests providing model-derived forecasts of change.

ECODRIVE benefits from strong coupling among different disciplines including biology, ecology and physics. Concerning the latter, this project is a logical follow-up to a number of process-oriented EU-projects (e.g., XTRANS, PROFILE, NOWESP, NOMADS2, CARTUM, PROVESS and COHERENS that focused on understanding specific physical processes acting in the North Sea system. ECODRIVE will now collect all this information in order to make scientifically based extrapolations to the future. Specific activities within WPs 2 –4 will be closely associated with ongoing activities in the German SFB 512 „Low pressure regions and the climate system of the North Atlantic”.

Participants of ECODRIVE (IHF, IFM, MPI) are members of the German Science Foundation Excellence Center on Integrated Climate System Analysis and Prediction (CLISAP) which aims at solving the most crucial questions of climate change, in the fields of predictability of climate and consequences of climate change. ECODRIVE will profit from this cooperation especially in the fields of atmospheric and hydrodynamic modelling and prediction.

German partners within ECODRIVE were primarily responsible for research activities within GERMAN GLOBEC which aimed at understanding the physical and biological processes responsible for trophodynamic structure and function of the North and Baltic Seas. The program is within the final synthesis phase and process knowledge will be easily transferred, including ecophysiological, trophodynamic and advanced NPZD model parameterizations. One of the partners is also currently involved within DFG “AQUASHIFT” program linking climate-driven changes within various aquatic (freshwater and marine) system within Germany including the North Sea.

Partners within ECODRIVE are also integrated within various EU-networks of Excellence including MARBEF covering the topic of Marine Biodiversity on Ecosystem Function. AWI is represented in all themes, including long-term change, and several responsive mode actions. A further EU-network of Excellence where ECODRIVE-partners are involved is the European Network of Excellence for Ocean Ecosystems Analysis (EUR-OCEANS). EUR-OCEANS covers all marine science disciplines, e.g. “Ecosystems-end-to-end”, “Biogeochemistry” and “Ecosystem Approach to Marine Resources”. Especially the modelling activities within EUR-OCEANS in “Ecosystems-end-to-end” (lead my M. St.John, IHF) are of high relevance for ECODRIVE.

Project participants work closely together with similar initiatives in the Baltic Sea. Cooperation exists with the ICES/HELCOM Working Group on Integrated Assessments of the Baltic Sea (Chair: C. Möllmann, IHF), conducting meta-analyses of large data sets and ecosystem modelling similar to the work planned in ECODRIVE. Related to these activities are planned cooperations with recently submitted proposals for the ERA-NET BONUS, specifically proposals MARIMBA, PELAGWEB and AMBER.

ECODRIVE scientists work on leading positions within several EU research projects. The recently finalized project BECAUSE (coordinated by A. Temming, IHF) dealt with critical interactions between fish species and their implications for a precautionary fisheries management. Multispecies model results from BECAUSE feed directly into the upper trophic levels components of ECODRIVE. Process knowledge on ecosystem function and modelling activities within a related project UNCOVER, investigating mechanisms of fish stock recovery will contribute to the project. Closely related to ECODRIVE is RECLAIM (coordinated by IMARES) which has the aim of resolving climatic impacts on fish stocks. The project efforts on ecosystem and fish modelling will directly contribute to ECODRIVE.

Closely related to ECODRIVE is MEECE (Marine Ecosystem Evolution in a Changing Environment), a further EU-funded project. The overall concept addresses global change, the result of natural and anthropogenically induced climate change impacts upon the structure and function of marine ecosystems via a number of abiotic and biotic drivers. In particular, global change will lead to large scale changes in climate patterns, ocean circulation and climate (i.e. structure, temperature and light) while enhanced atmospheric CO2 levels will lead to acidification of the oceans with significant impacts on ocean biogeochemistry, calcareous organisms and potentially the reproductive success of higher trophic. Through the performance of experimental synthesis and simulation activities, MEECE will provide the European Commission with an increased understanding of the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic drivers on the marine ecosystems and provide the numerical simulation tools to assess these impacts on a regional basis.

ECOOP (European COastal-shelf sea OPerational observing and forecasting system) is a further EU-funded project where Partner No. 2 co-ordinates WP10 on hindcast and scenario studies on coastal -shelf climate and ecosystem variability and change, where the main objective is on hindcast and future climate runs with coupled biophysical models.

RecNor is a project funded by NFR. The principal objective of this study is to provide understanding into the variability in productivity of ecologically and commercially important North Sea fish stocks. The project is divided into six sub-goals:

  1. Quantify the direct and indirect effects of fluctuations in sea temperature on fish recruitment.
  2. Examine the role of variability in current patterns affecting recruitment through transport of eggs and larvae.
  3. Examine the mechanisms behind the variability in inflow of C. finmarchicus to the North Sea.
  4. Determine the effects on fish recruitment of the observed switch from C. finmarchicus to C. helgolandicus and towards smaller zooplankton species.
  5. Address the effects on recruitment of fisheries-induced changes in fish stock reproductive potential including abundance, age and size composition of spawners.
  6. Determine the role of planktivorous fish, especially herring and sprat, as regulators of recruitment through predation on fish larvae.

The methods applied within the project are 3D physical and individual based modeling, statistical time series analysis, and statistical spatial analysis. Active partners are Institute of Marine Research (Norway), University of Oslo, Oregon State University, and Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Research.