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Development and operation of research infrastructures

The IOW provides four research infrastructures for use by the broader scientific community:

The database IOWDB currently comprises more than 70 million oceanographic readings and metadata, mainly from the Baltic Sea, covering the years 1877–2019. Phyto- and zooplankton data are available for the period 1988–2018. In order to provide free public access, the IOW IT group has developed a research tool (ODIN2). It allows a quick and targeted search in the IOWDB as well as visualisations of the retrieved information. The IOW database IOWDB is widely used not just for publications or PhD, Master’s-or Bachelor’s theses, but also for the validation of model results and Baltic-wide assessments. The IOWDB is the main infrastructure operated by the institute for the benefit of the whole Baltic Sea research community.

The IOW is part of the German consortium of the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS), one of the European Research Infrastructures with the target of “quantifying and understanding the greenhouse gas balance of Europe and neighbouring regions”. Among the IOW’s tasks are the continuous acquisition of pCO2 and pCH4 data on a “voluntary operating ship” (VOS), the cargo ferry FINNMAID, which commutes between Lübeck and Helsinki. The data are delivered to the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT), from where they are publicly available, discoverable and citable. For example, the SOCAT data are used to quantify the ocean carbon sink and ocean acidification and to evaluate ocean biogeochemical models.

The CAMECA NanoSIMS 50L is a secondary-ion mass spectrometer. This device enables visualisation of the distribution of individual elements or isotopes in solid samples and has a lateral resolution of up to 50 nm. Applications include the exploration of microbiological laboratory cultures or environmental samples experimentally mixed with isotopically labelled substrates. NanoSIMS can then be used to determine the amount of substrate absorbed by which organisms at the cellular level, a pre-requisite to elucidating the role of microorganisms in matter cycles. Beyond the IOW, cooperation partners and external scientists also use the NanoSIMS, of which there are only about 25 in Europe. A contribution to cover the running expenses is required from external users.

Finally, the institute operates the research vessel ELISABETH MANN BORGESE. Since 2018, ship-time can be applied via the German Research Vessels Portal.