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New IOW research programme 2024 – 2033: “Perspectives of Coastal Seas”

Coastal seas with their habitat and species diversity as well as their ecosystem services are of paramount importance for our planet and human well-being. They are, however, under enormous pressure from pollution, habitat destruction and climate change. With a special focus on the Baltic Sea, the IOW's research programme “Perspectives of Coastal Seas” launched in 2024 provides new impulses for understanding, protecting and managing these vital marine ecosystems for the benefit of nature and humans. Marine observation is being strengthened by innovative methods and the Baltic Sea long-term monitoring program is substantially extended northwards; as a new tool, so-called “Baltic Challenges” make it possible to react quickly to newly emerging research topics.

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Fact sheet on climate change and its impacts in the Baltic Sea region

How does climate change affect the Baltic Sea and what are its possible impacts on the marine environment? The international research network Baltic Earth and the Helsinki Commission for the protection of the Baltic Sea marine environment, HELCOM, published a synopsis of current research results from about 100 researchers from the entire Baltic Sea region in the form of a compact fact sheet (download available here).

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Gas leaks from Nord Stream 1 & 2

According to various sources, it can be assumed that a total of about 500 million m3 of methane was released from the damaged Nord Stream pipelines. On this basis, IOW experts have compiled a brief overview with a comparative benchmarking of the amount of climate gas released as well as of other potential hazards (available also as download).

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Baltic Sea ‘dead zone’ development since 1969: IOW proviedes detailed map material based on long-term data

Oxygen minimum zones caused by intense microbial degradation processes of organic matter are characteristic for the Baltic Sea. The hostile living conditions of these so-called ‘dead zones’ become even more pronounced, when toxic hydrogen sulphide is produced by bacterial activity. To visualise the spatial and temporal distribution and dynamics of these areas, the IOW regularly publishes new maps in a unique collection of several hundered, thereby covering data of more than five decades.

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Microplastics in the Sea

Alarming news about the growing littering of the seas and the omnipresence of microplastics trigger the public concern. Marine scientists are working with special emphasis to answer open questions related to this highly topical environmental issue. At the IOW, we investigate

• whether microplastics might serve as an ideal transportation vehicle for pathogenic germs

• how methods to determine microplastics, which today are still very time-consuming, can be improved

• which are the sources and pathways of microplastics into the sea.

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The „Altona Declaration“: German coastal research presents future concept

42 German research institutions together with numerous stakeholders intensively cooperated over a two-year period to develop a research agenda for the coming decade. Highlight of the agenda process was the symposium “Coast 2025” in April 2015 in Hamburg-Altona. On October 6, the resulting “Altona Declaration” was presented to representatives of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) in Berlin.

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BACC II report: Up-date on Baltic Sea climate change research

In April 2015, the Second Assessment of Climate Change for the Baltic Sea Basin (BACC II) was published by the BACC II Author Team chaired by the International Baltic Earth (former BALTEX) Secretariat at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht. IOW researchers also contributed significantly.

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Record setting 2014

On the basis of a 25 year series of daily satellite data on the Baltic Sea´s sea surface temperate (SST), the year 2014 develops to be the warmest of this period. In the Western Baltic Sea all mean monthly values exceeded the long-term average values by 1 – 3 °C.

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Geschichtsbuch Meeresboden

In den Sedimenten der Ostsee schlummert ein wahrer Schatz aus Informationen über die Vergangenheit des "Meeres vor unserer Haustür".

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