System Analysis and Modelling

Coastal Climate

Environmental conditions such as storms, storm surges or extreme wind generated waves at the sea surface considerably influence living and working at sea and in coastal areas. Coastal climate is the statistics of such events.
Scientists from the coastal climate group analyze the state, variability, and long-term changes of the coastal climate. Using complex numerical models the scientists reconstruct recent changes and variability, and develop scenarios for future developments. The objective is to gain improved understanding of climatic processes and their changes in the coastal system supporting the scientific community, the general public, public authorities and businesses interested in coastal climate in decision making.
Regionally the activities are presently focused on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea while others coastal areas such as in Southeast Asia increasingly receive attention. A core product of the group’s activities is the coastDat data set which is presently applied by more than 100 users.


The coastDat approach was developed to improve the observational data base and to increase data homogeneity and consistency. The approach uses quasi-realistic numerical models of the marine atmosphere, tide-surges or wind waves to optimally exploit existing observations and to reconstruct
the marine climate providing detailed hourly descriptions of changing marine environmental conditions from 1948/1958 up to now. Scenarios of potential future developments in a changing climate are also available, complementing the reconstruction of past conditions in a consistent way. The coastDat approach was developed over more than 15 years and was successfully applied, for example, for providing assessments of the effectiveness of political measures to reduce chronic oil pollutions or changes in wind and storm surge climate. Industrial applications comprise, for example, uses in ship design, oil risk modelling and assessment, or the construction and operation of offshore wind farms. The coastDat data set is used by more than 100 users with about 42% of them located in industry, 14% in authorities and 44% in other research institutes.

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