Research Focus & Projects
The New Technologies Department coordinates development of new measurement systems for coastal research. One focus lies in the coastal observation system (Coastal Observing System for Northern and Arctic Seas).
Several Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht departments as well as external partners from the scientific and industrial sectors are involved in COSYNA. The scientific data and products are made available free of charge via COSYNA’s data portal.
As part of the “global coast” research focus, the department collaborates with partners around the world. Research is carried out by cooperating on international research projects and through regular exchange of knowledge and expertise with international partners.
Dialogue on research results takes place with administrative bodies, politicians and the industrial sector. The public can stay informed through websites and brochures.
Within the COSYNA framework, measurements are carried out with the help of many different systems such as gliders, buoys, FerryBoxes, satellites or radar. -image: HZG-
COSYNA facilitates systematic and continuous observation of the coastal ocean in the North Sea and the Arctic. Computer models, which simulate coastal sea processes, are analysed and improved using the data measured. The objectives are to describe the current environmental condition and make short-term forecasts.
The data made available by COSYNA can assist government bodies, the commercial sector and the public to better plan routine tasks. It can also assist in exceptional situations so that contaminants, oil spills or poisonous algal blooms can be handled properly. An additional area of application lies in long-term estimates and forecasts.
COSYNA also develops and improves scientific products such as North Sea current maps. Furthermore, underwater nodes, FeryBoxes, measurement buoys and other scientific instruments are utilised, developed and optimised
In cooperation with many , COSYNA expands knowledge of the coasts in "our backyard" and globally – as well as on their regional coastal characteristics.
Further information can be found on the COSYNA website.
The Helmholtz Association is in the process of creating a flexible, mobile measurement system for Earth observation. Nine Helmholtz Association centres will cooperate to set up a measurement system for Earth observation: MOSES – Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems. The project will initially be running from 2017 through 2021 and is funded by the Helmholtz Association with a grant of almost €28 million. MOSES is specifically designed to lay the foundation for research into interactions of short-term dynamic events, such as heat waves or extreme rain events, and long-term trends across Earth system compartments. MOSES is being coordinated at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig.
MOSES targets four event chains: heat waves, hydrological extremes, ocean eddies and the thawing of permafrost. The following questions are being adressed: What impact do heatwaves have on water resources, vegetation and air quality? How does flooding of terrestrial ecosystems change coastal regions? How do ocean eddies influence marine energy transport and oceanic food chains? What amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases is released during the thawing of Arctic permafrost soils?
The Institute of Coastal Research coordinates the “Ocean Eddies” event chain and plays a central role in “Hydrological Extremes.
In the New Technologies Department, internet-based data portals are developed for simple and quick access to measurement data and data products.
Access to the COSYNA data from all over the world. -image: HZG-
COSYNA Data Portal
The COSYNA Data Portal enables users to access data on the COSYNA system. The data can be downloaded in a variety of formatsas well as in map form.
The COSYNA Data Portal provides various search options whereby the user can select measurement quantity (e.g., water temperature), time period, region and water depth.
Data access and metadata follow international standards (INSPIRE, ISO 19115, OPeNDAP, SOS).
COSYNA Data Portal
The “Marine Network for Integrated Data Access” (MaNIDA) is a network that standardises, combines and enables easy access via a common data portal to these various existing electronic infrastructures.
The New Technologies Department provides access to COSYNA data within the MaNIDA framework and supports the German Oceanographic Data Centre (DOD) in supplying data. The MaNIDA project is coordinated by the Alfred Wegener Institute.
MaNIDA Data Portal
Coasts not only look different around the world, but they also possess different characteristics. -image: HZG-
Coastal waters, a region of the ocean, contribute to global processes in many ways.
The “global coast”—the importance of the coastal oceans for large-scale processes—is a focus of study in the New Technologies Department. Among the topics of interest are the carbon exchange between the coastal seas and the open ocean as part of the global carbon cycle and the ocean's energy budget as one of the important influences on worldwide climate
For investigating these questions and similar issues, the New Technologies Department develops and builds mobile measurement stations, which can be utilised in research projects all over the world. The data obtained is analysed and fed into computer models. This serves not only to examine and improve the models, but the data can also be used to describe and understand central processes and mechanisms in the coastal seas.
The measurement systems, like the computer models, are designed to be as flexible as possible. This enables scientists to quickly adjust to new research questions and regions.
The objective is to describe coastal sea processes for specific regions as well as for the "global coast".
Coastal regions play a significant role for global processes. Ecosystem
models focusing on the coastal zone help improve significantly our
understanding of global cycles of, for example, carbon and nutrients.
However, global ocean circulation models do not properly resolve shelf
seas dynamics due to limitations in grid resolution and physical
parameterizations. Similar to global models, regional models often
poorly resolve estuarine dynamics and are rather controlled by open
Nested systems can provide a solution to those issues. However, one-way
nesting systems are not able to address the question of tracer transport
from the river mouth to the open ocean. At the same time, the use of
two-way nesting techniques has numerical limitations due to propagation
of noise between nested meshes as a result of inevitable mismatches. To
investigate ecosystem processes in the southern North Sea while avoiding
the problems associated with nesting solutions we use an
unstructured-mesh physical ocean model (FESOM coastal version) coupled to a biogeochemical model. The unstructured grid consists of quads and triangles zooming into the estuary, its vicinity and the coastline.
The decrease in horizontal resolution provides a better numerical
representation of coastal processes like asymmetries in tidal and
residual flows, and periodic stratification. The lower resolution in the
open sea allows to conduct comparatively large regional studies. The proper representation of physical properties both near shore and in the open sea allows for the possibility to investigate nutrient and carbon
transports from land to the open sea.
Reaching out to the public is one of the aims of the COSYNA project. -image: HZG-
One of the key features of COSYNA is that it doesn’t limit itself to the ivory tower of science. The data and results obtained by COSYNA are therefore made available to a broad spectrum of users. Possible users of COSYNA products include government administrations, associations (nature protection, tourism), scientific users, the industrial sector (e.g., offshore wind energy companies) as well as the broader public. Depending on the stakeholder group, the selected products can vary: forecasting algal blooms or wave heights, for example, might be of interest to the public.
COSYNA products should be useful and applicable for the user. In order to ensure this objective, the New Technologies Department participates in dialogues and workshops with potential users prior to creating new products. These dialogues are also continued later in order to constantly improve the product quality.
In order to directly reach the public, COSYNA produces brochures and other informational material in both German and English and maintains a website as well as an interactive app, which visually presents the COSYNA system and its obtained insights.
Die App (for PC, Android and iPad) includes short descriptions and illustrations of the various measurement systems operated by COSYNA. What makes this app unique is that the user can directly access real-time data from different measurement stations.
All printed products, such as brochures and other materials, are available for Download on the COSYNA website.