NOAH - North Sea Observation and Assessment of Habitats

Map: NOAH Work Areas

A project in the BMBF Framework Programme Research for Sustainable Development (FONA)

Human pressures on sea floors of the North Sea are mounting and require a thorough inventory of status and functions of this important ecosystem component. The NOAH project has gathered multidisciplinary expertise to construct a comprehensive habitat atlas that assesses sea floor state and functions, and establishes baselines against which environmental changes can be determined.

NOAH will develop a comprehensive geo-referenced inventory of seafloor properties in the German Bight of the North Sea by:

  • compiling, harmonising and mapping existing data with relevance to the distinction of seafloor habitats with respect to sedimentological, biogeochemical and biological properties and human pressures.
  • raising new data on the spatiotemporal variability of physical, sedimentological, chemical and biological seafloor properties from analyses of high-resolution model output and field observations targeting representative seafloor domains.
  • employing numerical models and spatial statistics to inter- and extrapolate key processes, functions and services of the benthic ecosystem from local observations of, for example, nutrient regeneration, bentho-pelagic coupling, pollutant sequestration sediment resuspension and biodiversity.
  • exploiting the “habitat atlas” with probabilistic expert systems for operational indicators of integrative assessments of seafloor state as well as the investigation of risks and threshold effects to key ecosystem services under different future climate and marine spatial management scenarios.

The NOAH project is one of five collaborating R&D-projects that are committed to the “Coastal Research Agenda for the North Sea and Baltic Sea”. The 6 year project started in April 2013, has 8 national partners and is coordinated by the Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht.

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