Hydrodynamics and Data Assimilation

Closed Projects

Future Ems

The future of the Ems-Dollart estuary – tackling environmental degradation

The Ems-Dollart estuary is of high ecologic and economic value to the neighboring regions in both the Netherlands and Germany. During the past decades, the environmental conditions in the Ems-Dollart have rapidly degraded/worsened, such as an increased load of suspended matter and an increase in tidal range. As a consequence, the risk of storm floods seawards the weir at Gandersum has increased, harbors and channels have increasingly silted up and the ecologic value has decreased.

In a bilateral and multi-disciplinary project, researchers from the Netherlands and Germany and a variety of disciplines, such as oceanography, mathematics, geochemistry and biology, will collaborate in order to advance the knowledge of the system substantially and provide new tools for addressing practical key problems. The project aims at developing a model with which the behaviour of the Ems can be simulated in great detail. This tool will be subsequently used to stimulate debate between scientists and decision makers on designing proper, cheap and environmentally friendly measures aimed at improving the ecologic value of the system, while maintaining its important role for the local economy.

The project 'Impact of climate change and human intervention on hydrodynamics and environmental conditions in the Ems-Dollart estuary: an integrated data-modelling approach' started in December 2011 and will last for four years. During this period, the researchers will collect new environmental data, integrate existing data as well as advance and extend a numerical model of the system. This improved model will be used to assess the response of the Ems-Dollart system ‘s characteristics, such as water motion, sediment, oxygen and phytoplankton concentrations, to both climate change (i.e. sea level rise, changes in storm statistics and tidal conditions) and human intervention. In addition, simple models will be used to advance the understanding of key processes in the Ems.


WIMO - Wissenschaftliche Monitoringkonzepte für die Deutsche Bucht (Scientific monitoring concepts for the German Bight)
This project network addresses significant environmental parameters in the sea, the state and quality development of the German sea regions as well as scientific advice for the decision makers. Furthermore display formats suitable for the public community will be developed.
The project is funded by the Ministry of Science and Culture and the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony.


MyOcean is a project of the 7th framework program of the EU to build up GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, now Copernicus) Marine Core Services. It shall establish an integrated paneuropean capacity to monitor and predict the ocean. One goal is to provide the user a continuous approach to Copernicus service products and establish the necessary interface to research and development activities. Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht coordinates the scientific and technical development in MyOcean-2, especially in the frame of numerical modelling and data assimilation, but is also engaged in in the Ocean Colour TAC (Thematic Assembly Centre) and the Monitoring and Forecasting Centres (MFCs) for the Baltic and the Black Sea.


MyWave is a project of the 7th framework program of the EU which aims at the improvement of services of the European Program for the establishment of a European capacity for Earth Observation in the field of “Marine Environment Monitoring Systems”. First of all the ocean wave and circulation models shall be substantially improved by developing modern coupled atmosphere -wave-ocean model systems. This comprises new methods for ocean wave physics, coupled methods of wave-ocean-atmosphere and new data assimilation techniques where satellite data from coastal areas will be used more frequently.
Main task for the Institute of Coastal Research of the Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht is to combine and document all developments which will lead to a new standard model version of the wave model WAM.


Task of the Helmholtz network EOS is to look at the system earth – consisting of lithosphere, pedosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and biosphere – and to analyse their functionality globally and regionally. It investigates how human action influences the natural balances and processes in this highly complex system.

In this sense the network EOS collects the geoscientific competence of the following centres: Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the National Aeronautics and Space Research Centre (DLR), Research Centre Jülich (FZJ), Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht Centre for Material and Coastal Research (HZG) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Altogether the infrastructure of all these six Helmholtz Centres is manifold comprising research vessels, aeroplanes and up-to-date satellite sensors and super computers.

Seven research topics which are investigated by the research community, range from analysis of atmospheric, hydrological and ecological systems and processes, monitoring of individual dangers and risks in a changing environment to the development of new monitoring systems of the earth.

Changes observed over a wide area cannot be caught by single measurements alone. This leads to a main focal point “global change and processes in the ocean and at the coast”, coordinated by Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht, where changes in the marine environment are analysed with remote sensing and in situ methods combined with numerical models.


The research project Hypox, a project of the 7th framework programme of the EU, aims at better understanding the oxygen depletion in open seas and land-locked water bodies. This process is influenced by climate change and a dramatic impact on the ecosystem and the economy of coastal areas is expected.

In Hypox the scientific basis will be developed which allows modelling and forecasting the oxygen depletion on different temporal and spatial scales. One of the main issues is the improvement of model capacities by coupling physical and biogeochemical processes in three-dimensional numerical coupled models as well as integration of existing data.

It is expected that the data assimilation not only enables a more exact estimate and prediction of the oxygen content but also provides basic recommendations for the improvement of oxygen monitoring systems.


FIELD_AC (Fluxes, Interactions and Environment at the Land-Ocean Boundary. Downscaling, Assimilation and Coupling) aims at the improvement of predictability for the coastal area using high-resolving numerical models and measurements. Fresh water discharge as well as sediment and nutrient input for geographically limited areas (with strong gradients and up to now high prediction errors) will be considered. The results of the project contribute to improve operational services for coastal areas and will be a surplus for GMES Marine Core Services which are limited to shelf seas and regional scales. FIELD_AC fills the gap between forecasts for shelf seas and coastal areas.


ACOAST-Baltic (Assessment of coastal observing systems in the Baltic Sea: on the route to developing science based coastal services). Main goal of the project is the establishment of a forum which fosters the development of intelligent coastal monitoring systems. It is restricted to certain areas (e.g. Danish sounds and belts, German coastal waters, Swedish coastal waters, Gulf of Finland). It is necessary to assess existing measurement systems and improve their functionality. The approach is to combine remote sensing data and numerical model results to identify, understand, and predict physical, biogeochemical and biological processes in intensively used coastal areas and to minimise uncertainties in the ecosystem prediction.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


BALTICWAY (“Significance of currents for the environmental management of the maritime industry in the Baltic”) aims at diminishing environmental risks caused by the industry (e.g. pollution from ships which cause damages in environmental sensitive areas far from the accident). Strategies are investigated to minimise any damage. The scientific approach is based on the intelligent use of statistically heterogeneous semi-persistent current patterns, the knowledge of which is important for the drift of ships without power unit, rescue boats or lost containers. Areas with minor risks are therefore most appropriate for waterways and the operation of potentially dangerous installations in the sea.

The German contribution is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Further EU Projects

YEOS (Yellow Sea Observation, Forecasting and Information System): YEOS is an EU FP6 Specific Supported Action, which aims at technical transfer and international cooperation with developing countries, as a part of EU contribution to GEOSS. The goal of YEOS is to strengthen the GOESS cooperation between EU and other key GEOSS players, by demonstrating benefits and building up confidence through a solid cooperation in national level (i.e., EU-States-China-South Korea) and regional level (i.e., BOOS - Yellow Sea OOS).

ADOPT (Advanced decision support system for ship design, operation and training) : The project will focus on optimizing safety by development of a system that senses the environment for actual situation data, and predicting the ship motions accordingly, thereby ensuring optimal operational performance, relying on computer based decision support tool creating an interface to be used in ship operation, training and design.

SAFEDOR (Design, operation and regulation for safety): SAFEDOR undertakes to deliver the foundation for Europe to sustain world-leadership on safety-critical and knowledge-intensive ships, services, products, equipment and related software and to install systematic innovation in ship design and operation by modernizing the maritime regulatory system.

HIPOCAS (Hindcast of Dynamic Processes of the Ocean and Coastal Areas of Europe): Retrieval of a 40-year hindcast of wind, wave, sea-level and current climatology for European waters and coastal seas for application in coastal and environmental decision processes.

SEAROUTES Advanced decision support for shiprouting based on full-scale ship-specific Responses as well as improved sea and weather forecasts including synoptic, high precision and realtime satellite data.

MaxWave (Maximum Waves): Main objectives are the investigation of properties and forecasting abilities of low frequency wave fields, extreme individual waves and wave groups as well as derivation of new design criteria considering the impact of rogue waves on ships and offshore constructions (coordinator).

EuroRose (European Radar Ocean Sensing): Development of a transportable methodology for monitoring and forecasting winds, waves, water level and currents in limited areas (coordinator).

COST714 (Measurement and Use of Directional Spectra of Ocean Waves): Development of methods for directional wave spectra retrieval from remote sensing and directional wave spectra for modeling application. Comparison of different wave measuring techniques.

PIONEER (Preparation and Integration of Analysis Tools towards Operational Forecast of Nutrients in Estuaries of European Rivers): Development of techniques for the day-to-day monitoring, analysis and short-term prediction of nutrient and related suspended matter distributions in estuaries.

PROMISE (Pre-operational Modeling in the Seas of Europe Sylt-Rømø): Develop a framework to optimize the application of existing pre-operational dynamical models of the North Sea towards the present focus of quantifying the rates and scales of exchange of sediment between the coast and the near-shore zone.

WASA (Waves and Storms in the North Atlantic): Investigation of hypotheses of a worsening storm and wave climate in the Northeast Atlantic and its adjacent seas in the present century (coordinator).

NEPTUN An integrated approach for determining North West European coastal extremes.

WASP (Wadden Sea Project): Development and testing of combined models of wind, waves, currents, sediment and ecosystem (coordinator).

Further Projects

CliWaCoas (Climate Change, Wind-Wave Interaction and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Processes ): Investigation of risks that may develop in the coastal regions under accepted scenarios of possible climate change and/or human activity. Scientific and technological cooperation project with TECHNION in Israel. BMBF funded.

GITEWS (German Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System): Development of a Tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean. GKSS´s part is to model the Tsunami wave propagation, transformation and run-up in selected coastal areas. BMBF funded.

EXTROP (Investigation of Extratropical Cyclones Using Passive and Active Microwave Radars): The aim of the Virtual Institute is to improve the predictability of cyclones in the northern Atlantic using various remote sensing techniques. HGF funded.

SOWWC (SAR Ocean Wind, Waves and Currents): Develop and validate processing methods for ocean wind, waves and current retrieval from ENVISAT ASAR data with a view to their rapid incorporation into operational products. ESA funded.

MOSES Modelling of the mid-term wave climate within the German North Sea coastal area. BMBF funded.

ODERHAFF Hydrodynamics and transports in tideless coastal waters.

ODERFLUT (Oder flood): Simulation of a flood plain in the catchment area of the Oder with a coupled model system (coordinator).

ENVOC A New Perspective of the Ocean. The instruments of the European satellite ENVISAT will be used for various tasks including improvement of wind, wave and sea ice measurements as well as water constituent, hydrobiological and geochemical monitoring (consortium).

SARPAK (Spatial Resolution of Marine Parameters with ERS-SAR Images): Investigation of the spatial Resolution of marine meteorological and marine biological parameter fields in coastal areas with ERS-SAR images (coordinator).

Environmental assessment study for the deepening of the Elbe river (consortium).

Baltic Sea hindcast for reconstruction of the breakwater and entrance of Warnemünde harbor, Rostock, Germany. On behalf of the Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW), Germany.

40 year hindcast of the southern North Sea for the Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW), Germany.

Investigation of sea state near to the coast and the estuaries of the German Bight for the Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW), Germany.

Measurement and modeling of ocean wave spectra for the calibration and validation phase of the European remote sensing satellite ERS-1.

Hindcast study and extreme value analysis of 132 storms in the Southern North Sea for a consortium of 6 oil companies.

NESS (North European Storm Study): A hindcast study to establish extreme value statistics of winds, waves and currents for the North European shelf areas (consortium).

SWAM Comparison of several deep-water wave models (consortium).

SWIM Comparison of several shallow water wave models (consortium).