Our focus is the benthic mineralization of organic matter and nutrient cycling within the coastal ocean, mainly the regeneration of nutrients from organic matter on the seafloor, the fluxes of nutrients from the sediments to the overlaying water.
Coastal, shelf and estuarine systems comprise only 10% of the surface area of the world’s oceans. They account for up to 30% of the marine primary production and 90% of the world’s fish catch. Today, approximately 60% of the human population lives within coastal areas (LOICZ, 1995). Coastal ecosystems represent extremely valuable resources. However, they are degrading at an alarming rate. Principal causes are e.g. sea level rise due to climate change, overfishing, dumping, dredging and nutrient input (nitrogen and phosphorous) from terrestrial sources (e.g. agriculture, urbanization, fossil fuel combustion), leading to coastal eutrophication.
In shallow waters of coastal areas, a substantial part of the organic matter is deposited on the sea floor where it represents a food source for the benthic community. They decompose organic matter by microbial reactions into inorganic compounds of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and silica. Those nutrients resulting from benthic mineralization diffuse back into the water column, where they are readily used for primary production of organic matter. Consequently, benthic mineralization is a key factor of benthic-pelagic coupling in shallow marine ecosystems and may be important in sustaining the high productivity of the system.
Research areas comprise the North Sea, the Black Sea and...
Coastal research projects are
PACES research program, Topic 2 “Coastal change “: WP 3 : Coastal Systems under Global and Regional Pressures, WP 4 : Integrating observations for coastal management