Humans interact with their environment in manifold ways; they are changing it and in turn, are themselves changed by it. However, these human-nature relationships are increasingly becoming more complex. There is increasing acknowledgement that societal and environmental challenges require new ways of knowledge production, knowledge exchange, and decision-making. One key aspect of science, is the involvement of actors from outside academia into the research process (i.e., transdisciplinary research), in order to integrate the best available knowledge, reconcile values and preferences, as well as to create ownership of problems and solution pathways.

On this basis, the "Earth System Knowledge Platform" (ESKP) concept of the German Helmholtz Association (HGF) was initiated in 2012, which combines and synthesizes the information and knowledge of eight Institutes of the HGF within the research field "Earth and Environment" (




AWI as one of these eight institutes welcomed this opportunity and developed a unique, tailored ESKP@AWI strategy as part of its program-oriented research structure. In addition to providing scientifically-based knowledge, the various research work packages of AWI focus on target-specific translation and contextualization of the best available scientific knowledge. The central focus of the ESKP@AWI strategy is to strengthen knowledge transfer capacities in the institute whilst acting as a tool for science-stakeholder interactions initiated by AWI researchers. To this end, an internal annual “ESKP@AWI Call for Tender” was launched, which invites explorative and integrative project proposals, actively working at the science-stakeholder nexus, and with a clear focus on stakeholders and knowledge transfer. These proposals cover ideas specifically addressing new and emerging topics that are of interest to science and society alike but for which the attraction of third party funding is challenging. The ESKP@AWI Call for Tender both reflects and frames the institutional learning capacities and provides a better understanding of the opportunities, internal workings, and potential pitfalls of knowledge transfer activities and dialogues.

Dr. Gesche Krause

+49 (0) 471-4831 1631

ESKP@AWI Projects 2018

Web-based visualisation of past environmental change in permafrost regions                                (PAST PERMAFROST)

This project brings together stakeholders from the economy, research and educational sectors to shape the future of our scientific goals towards their relevance for the German and international society. The overall objective of the project is the development of a web-tool that allows the user to visualize AWI environmental data sets in space and time in permafrost areas (incl. interactive maps of past and present vegetation). The sites can be used to compare the millennial scale climate history in the area to the present thermal state of permafrost. Our vision is to link paleoclimate findings to direct consequences of recent environmental change in the Arctic.

Contact: Dr. Boris K. Biskaborn, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Herzschuh

Seaweeds of the German North Sea - taxonomic key of taxa and guide to their natural and artificial habitats (SeaTax)

All natural, biotic or artificial hard bottom substrates within the shallow North Sea (incl. ~ 1100 km of coastal protection and harbour facilities), are densely covered by a rich flora of macroalgae. Besides their important primary ecological functions, macroalgal species richness, diversity and abundance are relevant measures for national and international water quality guidelines such as the EU-Water Framework Directive or the EU-Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Despite their importance, the knowledge for correct taxonomic identification of marine macroalgae is both scattered in a diversity of older textbooks, which do not unify the relevant information for macroalgal determination, and taxonomic expertise on macroalgae in general is diminishing in Germany. This project thus wants to counteract this situation by developing a user friendly taxonomic key for macroalgae focussing on the German North Sea with its diverse macroalgal habitats, both as a printed textbook and also as a web-based key. This will take place in close interaction with the needs of environmental agencies, universities and Wadden Sea Centers.

Contact: Dr. Inka Bartsch, Dr. Christian Buschbaum

Transcending Spreadsheets, Enabling Data Science (TranSEnD)

The TranSEnD project builds the technological foundation for the creation of a modern biodiversity data management, thus lowering the transformation costs in a user-driven approach to enable scientists to streamline their tasks. As ecological research  transforms itself from a rather descriptive field to prediction-oriented studies, our data management also needs to transform. Once built around spreadsheet software, essentially unchanged for over 30 years, it is no longer up to the task. Spreadsheet software is so deeply ingrained in the scientific workflow that an upgrading process from component to component might not be possible. A leap is required which involves risks to be taken.

Contact: Dr. Jan Holstein, Prof. Dr. Dieter Piepenburg, Paul Kloss, Dr. Roland Koppe, Dr. Casper Kraan

Blue Growth in a Changing Environment (BlueChange)

The marine realm has great potential for economic growth and innovation. For this, the EU initiated the Blue Growth Strategy, based on cooperation between countries through sea basin strategies. The North Sea basin is intensely used by different maritime sectors (incl. such as energy production, shipping, fisheries, tourism). In addition to the limited space available for growth and further development, conflicts of marine area use rise between the different actors. The project BlueChange addresses the prospective problems, shifts and required adaptations of a sustainable development of the Blue Growth sectors in a changing environment in a multi-disciplinary approach.

Contact: <link nc en about-us organisation staff bela-h-buck.html _self>Prof. Dr. Bela H. Buck<link nc en about-us organisation staff christina-hoerterer.html _self>, Christina Hörterer

Winds of change – analysing socio-economic implications of blue growth initiatives on island communities (IslandChange)

In close cooperation with BlueChange, the project IslandChange looks at potential repercussions of EU Blue Growth Initiatives on the local communities inhabiting the small islands of Sylt and Helgoland in the German North Sea. Compared to the relatively advanced technological and ecological considerations of wind farms, both the role of science and the role of the island population in the directly related societal transformations has been under-investigated to date. Yet, the roles of communities within these sectors, their stakes and interests, determine the quality and usefulness of the participatory processes within these transformations. Island communities face direct (social and opportunity) costs, e.g. where offshore wind farms reduce options for coastal tourism. In a first step, we aim to assess the status quo of the socioeconomic implications.

Contact: Dr. Annette Breckwoldt, Christina Hörterer, Nina Lefeldt

Concluded ESKP@AWI Projects



September 2018

A. Smaal, J.G. Ferreira, J. Grant, J.K. Petersen, O. Strand (Hrsg.) 2018. Goods and Services of Marine Bivalves. Springer

The aim of this book is to review and analyse the goods and services of bivalve shellfish. How they are defined, what determines the ecological functions that are the basis for the goods and services, what controversies in the use of goods and services exist, and what is needed for sustainable exploitation of bivalves from the perspective of the various stakeholders. The book is focused on the goods and services, and not on impacts of shellfish aquaculture on the benthic environment, or on threats like biotoxins; neither is it a shellfish culture handbook although it can be used in evaluating shellfish culture. The reviews and analysis are based on case studies that exemplify the concept, and show the strengths and weaknesses of the current applications. The multi-authored reviews cover ecological, economic and social aspects of bivalve goods and services. The book provides new insights for scientists, students, shellfish producers, policy advisors, nature conservationists and decision makers.This book is open access under the CC BY license. Gesche Krause, Bela Buck and Annette Breckwoldt contributed Chapter 17 on socio-economic aspects of marine bivalve production.

April 2018

Our ESKP@AWI Book (featuring many contributions of the completed ESKP@AWI projects!) has now been published @ Springer Nature! The Ebook is also already available:

Krause, G. (Ed.). 2018. Building Bridges at the Science-Stakeholder Interface: Towards Knowledge Exchange in Earth System Science, SpringerBriefs in Earth System Sciences (Series editors: Lohmann, G., Mysak, L.A., Notholt, J., Rabassa, J. and V. Unnithan), Spinger Nature, ISBN: 978-3-319-75918-0

"This book covers the approaches, applied methods and central participatory processes at the science-stakeholder interfaces embedded in the development of the "Earth System Knowledge Platform (ESKP)". The latter is an initiative of the German Helmholtz Association, synthesizing the expertise of the eight Helmholtz research institutions focusing on Earth System Sciences. The contributions showcase the approach of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) within the ESKP initiative. Central focus is placed on the question as to which knowledge transfer processes can be employed to foster meaningful approaches based on science-stakeholder dialogues, data products, and/or modelling. The authors suggest that the tools and approaches for enhancing the vital contributions of science to addressing societal challenges warrant further investigation and development."

November 2017

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) has published its first Evidence Review Report titled Food from the Oceans, which examines the question of how the ocean can help satisfy the global demand for food.

Gesche Krause contributed in her role as appointed expert in the international social science working group of the European Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) on the subject: “How can more food and biomass be obtained from the oceans in a way that does not deprive future generations of their benefits?”

As an integral part of the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM), the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) was asked to produce this Evidence Review Report to underpin the Scientific Opinion of the High Level Group (HLG), in response to a request from Commissioner Vella (DG MARE). The SAPEA Food from the Oceans Evidence Review Report and the SAM High Level Group Opinion based on this report are available here.

November 2017

Guillotreau, P., Bundy, A., Perry, R. (Eds.). 2018. Global Change in Marine Systems -Societal and Governing Responses. London: Routledge.

Marine social and ecological systems around the world face multiple natural and anthropogenic stressors associated with global change. The resulting changes can create hardship for local societies that depend on them for food, livelihoods and wellbeing. Knowing how to respond to global change in a timely and appropriate manner is increasingly occupying the attention of researchers, policy makers, decision makers and practitioners around the world. Written by an international group of researchers from the natural and social sciences, Societal and governing responses to Global Change in Marine Systems analyses and appraises societal and governing responses to change, highlighting and explaining similarities and distinctions between successful, and less successful, responses. Annette Breckwoldt contributed to the concluding chapter in her role as new member of the Human Dimensions Working Group of IMBeR.

August 2017

The first book of its kind has been published on the subject of Offshore Aquaculture, and Gesche Krause contributed to three chapters as lead- and co-author:

Buck, B.H. and R. Langan (Eds). 2017. Aquaculture Perspective of Multi-Use Sites in the Open Ocean - The Untapped Potential for Marine Resources in the Anthropocene. Springer Nature. ISBN 978-3-319-51157-3, ISBN 978-3-319-51159-7 (eBook), Open Access.

"This volume addresses the potential for combining large-scale marine aquaculture of macroalgae, molluscs, crustaceans, and finfish, with offshore structures, primarily those associated with energy production, such as wind turbines and oil-drilling platforms. The volume offers a comprehensive overview and includes chapters on policy, science, engineering, and economic aspects to make this concept a reality. The compilation of chapters authored by internationally recognized researchers across the globe addresses the theoretical and practical aspects of multi-use, and presents case studies of research, development, and demonstration-scale installations in the US and EU."

Funding, Events and Activities

April 2018

How have islands aided our understanding of human-environment interactions? What are the latest directions in island biological and cultural conservation? Where should island conservation efforts be focused? And what conservation lessons do islands have for the rest of the world? These are the key questions during the 7th International Conference on Environmental Future, which will take place from 16 – 20 April 2018 in Honolulu, Hawai’i, with a specific focus on Humans and Island Environments. Annette Breckwoldt will participate in this meeting under Session 10: How does environmental governance on islands currently operate and what forms of governance produce the best outcomes

March 2018

The plans are underway for our Oceans Past VII Conference (22-26. October 2018): Gesche Krause is member of the Executive Board of the Oceans Past Initiative and successfully bid for hosting the final conference of the EU COST Action Oceans Past Platform (IS1403) in Bremerhaven. On this collaborative platform of AWI and the German Maritime Museum, international and multidisciplinary scientists will come together in October 2018 to discuss and exchange knowledge on the subject of: Tracing human interactions with marine ecosystems through deep time: implications for policy and management.

March 2018

The LITTERBASE Team contributed to the joint publication Marine Plastic Pollution – Resources for Educators, a brochure by the Bremen Durban Marine Environmental Education Network - with contributions of several marine research and outreach institutions from the Bremen region.

Editor: Dr. Valeria Bers
Contributors: Dr. Sonia Bejarano (ZMT), Dr. Melanie Bergmann (AWI), Dr. Gunnar Gerdts (AWI), Dr. Jean Harris (WILDOCEANS), Dr. Judy Mann-Lang (SAAMBR), Carolin Müller (ZMT), Lauren van Nijkerk (WILDOCEANS), Jens Tanneberg (Klimahaus® Bremerhaven), Dr. Davi Castro Tavares (ZMT), Dr. Martina Pätzold (MARUM), Dr. Dorothea Seeger (BUND Bremen), Roger Spranz (ZMT)

Published by: Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) GmbH, Fahrenheitstr. 6, 28359 Bremen

February 2018

Annette Breckwoldt got selected as co-chair of the Human Dimensions Working Group (HDWG) of IMBeR, where she will work over the next four years with Ingrid van Putten (CSIRO) and an excellent international and interdisciplinary team on interactions between human and marine systems. Established in 2011, this working group focuses on the interactions between human and ocean systems. Its motivation stems from the recognition that humans not only influence ocean systems, but also depend on ocean systems for goods and services. The HDWG's goal is to promote an understanding of the multiple feedbacks between human and ocean systems, and to clarify what human institutions can do, either to mitigate anthropogenic perturbations of the ocean system, or to adapt to such changes.

January 2018

Good news and even more important work: Gesche Krause was re-elected for another 3-year period as ICES Chair of the Working Group of Social and Economic Dimensions of Aquaculture (WGSEDA), which she also initiated.

January 2018 - Helmholtz project funded

Our funding proposal for the new Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz Association has been accepted! The project INTERNAS combines the competences of both AWI and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig - with a focus on the 'Scientific transfer of the results of INTERNational environmental ASsessments in the German policy context.' A meaningful and convincing knowledge transfer creates a deeper understanding for scientific evidence and interlinkages within society, and can influence future decision-making. INTERNAS - with AWI's contribution by Gesche Krause and Annette Breckwoldt is one of three projects accepted under this new funding scheme, which especially selects innovative knowledge transfer projects. The AWI press release is in German only: Innovativer Wissenstransfer. On 22. February 2018, Elisabeth Marquardt (UFZ) und Annette Breckwoldt presented the project at the 6th National IPBES Forum in Bonn.

January 2018

A double-page on marine litter particles in the water column - with information and data from LITTERBASE - is featured in the new Geography Schoolbook of Diercke. Reference: Diercke. Erdkunde. Einführungsphase Niedersachsen. Braunschweig, 2017. More informationen can be gathered directly from the LITTERBASE team at AWI:  Melanie Bergmann, Lars Gutow, Mine B. Tekman. 

14. December 2017

For the first time, AWI awarded the 'Transfer-Prize' (2.000 Euro) this year - to Dr. Monica Ionita-Scholz - for her outstanding activities in the field of knowledge and technology transfer. Her work focuses on the analysis of data based on climate proxies, the detection of climate patterns and participation in several interdisciplinary projects. Special attention requires the development of a monthly and seasonal prediction modell, together with the methodology to measure water levels, average throughflow, and lowest water levels for German waterways on behalf of the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG) in Koblenz. The model was developed based on hydrological and climatological parameters, and - with the support of ESKP@AWI - tested and successfully applied for different German catchment areas.

December 2017 - DFG project funded

Great news: the German Research Foundation (DFG) accepted the proposal submitted by Elodie Fache (IRD, Montpellier) and Annette Breckwoldt on the theme: "A Sea of Connections: contextualizing Fisheries in the South Pacific Region". The interdisciplinary 3yr-project runs under the ANR-DFG joint funding scheme for German-French research projects in the humanities and social sciences. It starts in May 2018 and will encompass a close cooperation with the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, as well as fieldwork periods in the 'ocean triangle' of Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Please have aread though this ESKP-contribution on Fiji.

August 2017

Annette Breckwoldt was honoured and promoted to serve as Associate Editor for the journal Frontiers in Marine Science (Marine Conservation and Sustainability). The board of editors concluded this election upon completion of her Research Topic Fishing for human perceptions in coastal and island marine resource use systems, the Open Access ebook of which will be published in March 2018. In August 2017, she also received a prize of USD 1,700 from the Frontiers Community Support Fund. This prize is awarded in recognition of editorial work and is supposed to offer new pathways and options for collaboration and exchange with other scientists.

March 2017

Gesche Krause has been elected into the European Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) as member of SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies), to develop and contribute recommendations in an international consortium on: ‘Food from the Oceans’. The international expert working groups are chaired by Professor Poul Holm (Trinity College Dublin) and Professor Dag Aksnes (University of Bergen).


Dr. Boris Biskaborn wins the WDS Data Stewardship Award 2016 of the International Council of Science (ICSU)! This accolade highlights exceptional contributions to the improvement of scientific data stewardship by early career researchers through their engagement with the community, academic achievements, and innovations.