The Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG) is one of 18 members of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. The main part of HZG is located in Geesthacht near Hamburg, but branches exist also in Hamburg itself and in Teltow near Berlin. HZG has a total staff of more than 850 employees, including approximately 600 scientists, engineers, and technicians. Research focuses on materials science, involving the use of neutrons and synchrotron radiation for investigation of materials and biological systems, as well as on regenerative medicine and coastal research.
The Institute of Coastal Research at HZG is dealing with several questions regarding both the natural and human dimensions of coastal dynamics. Analyses of the coastal system are performed in global and regional contexts to assess its state and sensitivity to natural and human influences. In addition, scenarios are developed for future coastal options.
As an essential part of this activities, the institute operates COSYNA (Coastal Observing System for Northern and Arctic Seas; www.cosyna.de), one of the most extensive monitoring systems worldwide. Its installations in the North Sea are used to observe the environmental state of coastal waters on a routinely basis and in real-time. The obtained data are used to improve the understanding of the underlying mechanisms shaping the coastal ecosystem. Furthermore, they are –in combination with modeling– also used to predict various parameters in real-time.
One important part of this coastal observatory are FerryBoxes, platforms equipped with various sensors that are used for automated and continuous monitoring of a large set of water quality parameters, either stationary or mounted on “Ships of Opportunity” (e.g. ferries or other commercial ships) in the North Sea. Furthermore, the COSYNA network includes radar stations, measurement piles, buoys, satellite observations, gliders and traditional research cruises.
Numerous users in science and industry as well as other stakeholders take advantage of the data emerging from this network of platforms to better plan routine tasks, react to emergency situations like pollution events, oil spills or (toxic) algal blooms, and to detect long-term changes in the coastal environment. Furthermore, the existing infrastructure offers the possibility to test new sensors and equipment which potentially extend the monitoring capability of the network.
In near future, new observational methods like aerial measurements and fast vessels will be incorporated in the observatory to conduct in situ measurements of small-scale spiral eddies. This project will provide a better understanding of the physical dynamics, biogeochemical and biological interactions, as well as the global importance of small scale processes within eddies and fronts.
More information about the activities of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht can be found on our website