Coastal Ecology

Coastal Science at the AWI (mainly the Sections CE and SSSE) specifically addresses Earth System needs, whereby overarching issues relevant to PACES are exemplified by the following facts:

  • roughly 70% of all humans will live at a coast by 2070 (UNEP 2016)
  • 12-15% of the population relies on fisheries/aquaculture (FAO 2016)
  • tourism is the world's largest industry - a coastal industry (UNEP 2009/13)
  • artificial surfaces in European coasts/catchments increase at >190 km2 per year (EEA 2013).



AWI Coastal Areas of Research

Fig. 1: The global areas Coastal Science covers in PACES (Graphic: AWI)

The Coastal Ecology Section (CES) specifically addresses questions in the Pelagic North Sea with an emphasis on intertidal regions, benthic habitat and geology/ particulate matter, Ecological systems at the Ice Edge in glacier and permafrost coastal regions.
Our science is both stakeholder and curiosity driven.


CE Section structure and delivery to PACES

Fig. 2: Section Structure showing section research emphases 1-3, networked topics (center triangle) and the collaboration with stakeholders in green. (Graphic: AWI)

Karen H. Wiltshire is Topic Speaker for Topic 2.

The current set up of the Coastal Ecology Section exists since 2015.

To maximize interactive networking three scientific topics are pivotal to the section (see Figure 2):

  1. The structure and function of the Wadden Sea and comparable areas
  2. The evolution and adaptation of organisms in  changing intertidal environments
  3. Habitat change and long term ecosystem shifts.

We currently have identified three major collaborative areas of expertise within the section:

  • “Bio-Geological habitat interactions”
  • “Environment and Evolution
  • “Coastal FESOM”.

The expertise from the scientific research feeds directly into the stakeholder oriented part of the section.



We investigate the structure and function of coastal systems in terms of changing environmental conditions. We provide scientific and stakeholder expertise on Wadden Sea, North Sea and polar coastal interfaces.

Section Head

Prof. Dr. Karen Helen Wiltshire


Rasha Bamatraf