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Research task 2: Changes in the hydrological system of coastal waters

Task manager:
Dr Stephan Mai, BfG,
Tel. +49 (0) 261/1306-5322,

Dr Astrid Sudau, BfG,
Tel. +49 (0) 261/1306-5287;


Climate-induced changes of meteorological and oceanographic parameters in the North Atlantic, the North Sea, and the Baltic Sea will entail changes in the hydrological situation in coastal waters and estuaries. Higher water levels, changed currents, and more severe wave climate are expected or have sometimes been observed already.
These consequences of climate change on the hydrological system in coastal waters and estuaries are studied in the projects of the Research Task 2. The findings made regarding the changes of water levels, the wave climate, the water temperature, and salinity provide the foundation for the study of the changes and sensitivity of the water-body state under Research Task 2 and for the development of options to adapt.


The Research Task 2 has the aim to give a reliable estimate of the changes in the hydrological systems of in North Atlantic, the North Sea, and the Baltic Sea that have either already occurred or have to be expected when climate change will be accelerating.

Work steps

To identify actual consequences of climate change, measurements made under Project 2.03 of water levels, currents, and the wave climate in the North Sea and its estuaries are analysed by statistical methods. Existing changes in the statistics of tide parameters (tidal water levels and tidal currents) and of the prevailing wave climate are plotted and checked for a possibly intensifying trend.
Future and existing climate-induced changes in the hydrological system are analysed with the help of the meteorological-oceanographic reference data acquired under Research Task 1 and by means of the climate-change scenarios regarding atmospheric and marine state variables and circulation patterns that had been regionalised for the coastal waters and estuaries. Comparisons of model outputs of climate scenarios and the reference-data set identify possible climate-induced changes in meteorological/climatological parameters (temperature, air pressure, wind etc.) and in oceanographic/hydrographic parameters (water level, currents, wave climate, etc.).
Project 2.04 will predict future changes of wave climate, water level, currents, salinity, and suspended-solids concentrations by means of the marine boundary values and atmospheric conditions.
Project 2.03 will perform regionalised numeric simulations with the atmospheric conditions found under Project 2.01 in order to compile a statistics of tide parameters and wave climates in the nearer coastal waters of the North Sea.

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