Action 9: Understanding marine and polar regions – the climate engines of Earth
We want to better understand the influence of marine and polar regions on Earth’s climate system.
Where do we stand?
The interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere have a crucial influence on the global climate and how it evolves. Climate research is inconceivable without effective marine and polar research. For instance, polar research helps to reconstruct climate history using ice cores from the great ice sheets of our planet. If we want to protect our coasts and coastal settlements from storm surges and the dangers of rising sea levels, we need to understand the dynamics of the world’s oceans. Large research expeditions and programmes such as MOSAiC and the missions of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM) make a significant contribution to strengthen climate knowledge.
What are the research needs?
For a better systemic understanding of the marine and polar regions and their role in climate change, research on the physics, chemistry and biology of our oceans must be intensified. It is essential to reduce uncertainties in climate forecasts, especially in the polar latitudes. Based on improved modelling capacities, advanced and more reliably calculations on changes in Earth’s climate system need to be evolved. This, together with the creation of an integrated data management system for coastal, marine and polar research, supports a better assessment regarding the potential, risks and opportunities of management concepts for the CO2 uptake of the seas and oceans. Only an in-depth understanding of these interrelationships will enable political courses of actions and appropriate adaptation or avoidance strategies.
Implementation steps and milestones
- The Federal Government is pooling its activities on German marine research in the research programme MARE:N. The future research topics will be developed in three agenda processes. Results have been available since 2019 for the areas of ‘Coastal Regions’ and ‘Blue Ocean’. In 2020 we will start the agenda process for ‘Polar Regions’.
- The data sets from MOSAiC, the world’s largest Arctic expedition, will be available from 2020. From 2020 onwards, we will specifically fund the evaluation of the data from the expedition to ensure that it can be used quickly for global climate policy.
- Within the framework of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM), we are working with the northern German states to improve the data infrastructure and create an integrative and comprehensive data management system.
- In order to work together on a national basis and across national borders on marine protection and sustainable use of marine resources in times of climate change, we will expand cooperation within national and European initiatives until 2025.
- German research vessels and autonomous and robotic infrastructures are absolutely essential for marine research of our seas and coasts. Germany has a leading international role in this area. We will therefore continue to renew the German research fleet and increasingly equip the ships with autonomous and robotic systems. In 2020, we will launch a competition for participants for the procurement of a new research vessel to replace the two ships POSEIDON and METEOR. We will also enable the Alfred Wegener Institute to procure an efficient successor vessel for the POLARSTERN.