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Research task 3: Climate-induced changes and sensitivity of the water body state (morphology, quality, ecology) and adaptation options for navigation and waterways

Task Manager:
Dr Birgit Schubert, BfG,
Tel. +49 (0) 261/1306-5312,

Andreas Schöl, BfG,
Tel. +49 (0) 261/1306-5514,


The currently projected climate change might be associated with numerous relevant impacts on ecosystem services and increased health-related risks. Such impacts may be direct ones, such as more frequent weather extremes and consequences like storm surges, inundations, and droughts, or indirect ones. The latter comprise risks arising from climate-induced changes in ecosystems, habitats or living conditions. The projects under Research task 3 study all possible consequences of climate change in coastal waters and in estuaries, examine the vulnerability of protected goods in risk-assessment studies, and formulate possible adaptation options regarding navigable waterways and navigation.


The changes in the atmospheric and climatologic conditions that are projected by means of reliable climate scenarios will be examined for their consequences on navigation, uses of the sea, and on the environment by means of numeric modelling. The aim is to find out whether and to which extent changes may occur in the suspended-solids budget and morphology, of the qualitative status of coastal waters and sediments as well as vegetation on banks and forelands. These findings will make it possible to initiate adaptation measures in time and thus avert economic damage. Quantitative studies in the North Sea and in the North Atlantic are performed to evaluate the impacts to be expected on navigation, coasts, infrastructure, and uses of the sea including the associated potential ecological risks.

Work packages (selection)

  • Development of scenarios of climate-induced physical changes in marine and coastal ecosystems
  • Statistical analyses of available data on suspended solids in estuaries on the North Sea for quantification of climatic and hydrological influences on maintenance dredging
  • Further development of the water-quality model „QSim“ for the assessment of consequences of climate change on the oxygen budget of North-Sea estuaries
  • Review of qualitative changes in contaminant concentrations in solids on the North-Sea coast, for instance due to climate-induced additional input of contaminated solids from the inland into North-Sea estuaries
  • Statistical analyses for the assessment of multivariate influencing factors on hygienically relevant or potentially pathogenic bacteria
  • Study of climate-induced changes in estuary vegetation and consequences for the protection of forelands.

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