System Analysis and Modelling
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aerial image of an algae bloom in the North Sea (Foto: Sabine Billerbeck)

Matter transport and ecosystem dynamics

Natural climate variability, climate change, extreme events and increasing human activities trigger complex and often non-linear changes of coastal environments. For coastal science, this calls for efforts to identify drivers of variability in coastal systems, both human and natural, to assess the present environmental status and disentangle climate and human impacts.

The department "Matter transport and ecosystem dynamics" studies the dynamics and long-term variability of complex marine coastal systems and related exchange fluxes at the oceans interfaces to atmosphere, land and sea floor. Therefore, we develop and operate coupled numerical multi-compartment models resolving interacting physical, biological and chemical processes. While our work aims at basic understanding of system functioning and key drivers, it is also relevant for socioeconomically important topics, such as coastal engineering, human health, fisheries and food safety. Models and tools can be used to support an informed management of the wider coastal zone and to assess and minimize future risks.

Specifically, our models target questions related to

  • The basic physical transport and mixing processes;
  • Nutrient and carbon fluxes within the marine ecosystem and across compartment interfaces and sedimentary organic carbon cycling;
  • Biological production, trophic coupling and benthic-pelagic coupling;
  • Sediment transport and morphodynamics of estuaries, coasts and continental margins including corresponding climate change / human imprints;
  • Fate, and transport of pollutants in the coastal environment and marine ecosystem.