of the Earth System

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bathmann | IOW, Warnemünde | 

The Ocean is a significant source of Food and income for humans. Economic activities related to oceans, seas and coastal areas are rapidly growing. Moreover, the ocean is the world's most important Transport route with steadily increasing importance and also plays a key role in the supply of raw materials and energy. Around one third of oil and gas production takes place today in regional seas and coastal regions. Rapid growth factors are tourism, ports and water Projects, marine living resouces and blue economy. 


The Leibniz-Network Integrated Earth System Research will develop und support a sustainable use of marine resoucres and ecosystem Services, and promote a good status of marine systems.

Foto by: arttmiss 2011 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Foto by: arttmiss 2011 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The ocean contains more than 50 times as much carbon as the atmosphere. It has, so far, strongly mitigated anthropogenic CO2 effects by taking up about a quarter of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Yet, this mitigation is expected to decrease because of ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation and other human-induced perturbations deteriorate the physical, chemical and biological capacities of the oceanto sequester carbon. 


All projected pathways that limit global warming to 1.5 Degrees additionally require the use of active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Current scenarios generally focus on land-based methods alone, will be extremely difficult if not impossible. 


Knowledge on how the ocean might contribute to the required decarbonization effort is limited. Little is known about ocean-based CO2 removal and storage approaches.


The growing utilization of the marine realm is characterized by trade-Offs and creates potential conflicts. Stressors on marine and coastal environments originate from naturally occurring changes super-imposed to a combination of various human induced Impacts. Thus, we will need to adopt a combination of long and short term regional and local approaches to assess overarching human and environmental drivers and their impact on marine regions and land-ocean zones. This will identify the various human use and planning scenarios in the selected marine ecosystems and assess basin scale and remote impacts thereon. We will further develop potential future scenrios for human use in the face of climate change, especially in terms of the future management options dealing with and developing mitigation strategies in an adaptive and integrative management framework.

Marine spatial planning aims to delineate Areas for different use categories in order to prevent conflicts in the use of areas and resources. However, this is not regulated for all use types and spill-over effects are to be expected. The increasing demand of use poses growing pressures to marine ecosystems. The ecological risks that are caused by the combination of different stressors pose a serious threat to society, as they will impair the ecosystem services and natural functions of the sea and ist inhabitants. The Services of the seas that society relies on may change in uncontrollable ways.


These aspects in Earth System Sciences directly support the activites within the German Marine Research Alliance, the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. It aims to support activities under the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and to contribute to the BMBF strategy. It is necessary to develop a Roadmap for sustainable use and protection of marine areas. The developed options will consider related environmental, social and economic aspects.