Future ocean

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Cluster of Excellence "Future Ocean"
place Kiel
state Schleswig-Holstein
country Germany
management Martin Visbeck (Speaker)
Ralph R. Schneider (Deputy Speaker)
Website http://www.futureocean.org/de/

The Cluster of Excellence Ocean of the Future is an interdisciplinary research network of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) funded by the DFG in cooperation with the Muthesius Kunsthochschule (MKHS) , the Institute for World Economy (IfW) and the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research ( GEOMAR) . The Cluster of Excellence was founded in November 2006 as part of the Federal and State Excellence Initiative . Part of the cluster is also the " Integrated School of Ocean Sciences " (ISOS), which was set up as a central platform for postgraduate teaching in marine sciences in Kiel.


The ocean plays a decisive role in the global climate system , harbors dangers such as tsunamis and seaquakes , but at the same time has economic potential in the form of submarine raw material deposits .

The cluster has set itself the task of providing the necessary scientific basis for ocean research. This basis should serve in the development of sustainable options for action and usage strategies in cooperation with politics and business in order to enable appropriate, knowledge-based and environmentally compatible decisions for the ocean.

First funding period

Organization chart of the first funding period

During the first funding period, which lasted from November 1, 2006 to October 31, 2012, the Cluster of Excellence Ocean of the Future was divided into two research areas, which were divided into a total of 13 working groups, and a central administration area. The research areas were: (A) “The ocean in climate change” and (B) “Resources and risks of the ocean”. Various infrastructure platforms (P1 – P4) were subdivided into the central administration area.

The ocean in climate change

The research area (A) “The ocean in climate change” dealt with the causes and effects of climate change on today's ocean. It was examined to what extent changes in and on the ocean are interdependent and, if necessary, could be built on one another. It was divided into a total of seven working groups.

The “ Ocean Acidification ” working group dealt with the effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms and tried to find out to what extent these organisms can tolerate the changes in pCO 2 . Laboratory and field tests were carried out to compare and assess the physiological reactions of particularly tolerant groups (e.g. cephalopods ) and particularly susceptible groups (e.g. bivalves ).

The extent to which global warming has an impact on temperatures on the sea floor was investigated by the working group “Warming of the Sea Floor”. Furthermore, she dealt with the question of whether warming at the bottom of the ocean would lead to a destabilization of gas hydrates in particularly sensitive regions, e.g. B. the Arctic Ocean .

The mathematical optimization of CO 2 uptake models was the goal of the working group “CO 2 uptake of the ocean”. In order to be able to research the future behavior of the ocean as a CO 2 buffer for the increasing emissions into the atmosphere , it is necessary to be able to simulate the factors responsible for the uptake (ocean circulation, biogeochemical processes) as precisely as possible.

The research group on ocean circulation hoped to better understand past, current and future climate mechanisms. In doing so, they focused in particular on the ocean circulation , marine biogeochemical cycles and the atmospheric hydrological cycle. The goals of the working group were, on the one hand, to simulate fundamentally different climatic conditions than today, and on the other hand, to validate climatic reconstructions from paleoproxy data.

The working group “CO 2 sequestration” of the Cluster of Excellence Ocean of the Future dealt with CO 2 capture and long-term storage in the ocean.

The working group “Ocean Surface Chemistry” dealt with the thin film of surface-active substances on the sea surface, which is known to hinder the gas exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere even at low wind speeds. Modern optical, mainly laser-based detection systems help to decipher the structure, composition and chemical reactivity of these surfaces.

The working group “Assessment of the Ocean” looked at the various services that humans obtain from the ocean in an economic evaluation. Questions related to “CO 2 management”, “ocean iron fertilization” and their economic feasibility were dealt with.

Resources and Risks of the Ocean

The research area (B) "Resources and Risks of the Ocean" dealt with the most diverse resources , their extraction and extraction possibilities, but also with the sustainable usability of these in the ocean as well as the possible risks that the ocean can hold for humans. It was divided into a total of six working groups.

The “Fisheries and Overfishing ” working group tried to develop more efficient management methods that promote sustainable use of the global fish resource. This required interdisciplinary research that considered ecological and economic aspects and integrated them into their models.

In recent years it has been discovered that many genes that are responsible for the development of inflammatory diseases in humans have a phylogenetically ancient origin. These ancient genes can be found and studied in the simplest marine metazoa . The task of the “Marine Medicine” working group was to investigate the molecular interactions within marine organisms with all of their associated microorganisms and to find out to what extent they are e.g. B. contribute to keeping the epithelial milieu constant.

There are large amounts of natural resources of commercial interest in the ocean . Gold , copper and zinc can be found in sulphide deposits around hydrothermal springs. Methane hydrates can occur in the sedimentary layers of the continental shelves . The working group "Resources on the seabed" dealt with the numerical modeling of the processes that lead to the formation of these raw material deposits and potential - deposits , and ultimately also with making prognoses about their global distribution.

Earthquakes , submarine landslides and the resulting tsunamis are great dangers for the coasts of all continents and the people who live there. The cluster's scientists in the “Submarine Hazards” working group worked on assessing the connection between the structure and dynamics of subduction zones and a possible earthquake cycle. Furthermore, one worked on the research of slope stability problems at continental margins .

In order to be able to make reliable predictions about future coastal development, one needs in-depth knowledge of the complex and interacting coastal processes. The working group “Sea Level Rise and Coasts in Danger” concentrated on the research of rapid physical and morphological changes on the coasts of the earth endangered by natural and anthropogenic processes and in particular on estuary systems. Furthermore, it was investigated which risks could arise from the interaction of climate-induced sea level rise and the already existing hazards for the coasts.

The working group “Law of the Sea” dealt with the analysis of the existing legal framework in the light of current challenges arising from climate change, increased energy resource scarcity and the possibly higher future exploitation of the seas.

Infrastructure platforms

The following four infrastructure platforms were available to the scientists of the Cluster of Excellence during the first funding period.

The "numerical simulation" played an important role in ocean research. In particular, a high-performance infrastructure is required in the areas of CO 2 absorption by the ocean and ocean circulation. Among other things, this consisted of a dedicated server for processing seismic data, an NEC -SX-8 supercomputer and various high-tech computer programs for fast data processing .

Tracer analysis” has been of critical importance in the areas of ocean surface chemistry, ocean acidification, seabed resources, and ocean floor warming. Various high-tech analysis systems were available to the cluster. These included a gas chromatograph isotope ratio mass spectrometer (GC-IRMS) MAT 253 and other highly specialized mass spectrometers .

The “Molecular Technology” infrastructure area was mainly used by the cluster's biologists in the fields of ocean acidification, warming of the seabed and marine medicine. He made available all the necessary technologies that were necessary for the analysis of organic sample material. These consist of a Qiagen BR8000, a 3730xl DNA analyzer and a Biacore X100 as well as various devices for sampling organic material on research vessels .

The infrastructure area “Ocean Observatories” included all instruments used by the cluster to observe the ocean. The application found particular importance in the areas of sea level rise, undersea hazards and resources on the sea floor. Instruments that were available were a. 300 L mesocosms , "Ocean Tracer Injection Systems" (OTIS), FlowCAM, a shallow water side-scan sonar , optical instruments for in-situ particle size spectra determination and a seismometer . In addition, several modifications were made to the ROV Kiel 6000 to support the cluster's research. Even underwater glider were used.

Second funding period

Organizational chart of the second funding period

On June 15, 2012, the nationwide Approval Committee for the Excellence Initiative decided to extend the funding by five years. During this second funding period from November 1, 2012 to October 31, 2017, the research areas (A) “The Ocean in Climate Change” and (B) “Resources and Risks of the Ocean” of the first funding period will be terminated and transferred to the large, fully integrated research area (R) "Research Topics" included. The research area (R) is divided into 11 multidisciplinary working groups. The administration and infrastructure platforms (P1 – P4) are combined in the new area (S) "Scientific support".

In the working group “Our common ocean of the future”, scientists from the fields of ethics, economics, art, politics, law and marine sciences come together and work on a concept for a sustainable ocean.

Legal, political, marine scientists, economists, philosophers and geographers in the working group "Government of the Ocean" evaluate existing and propose new approaches to govern the ocean in a sustainable manner.

In the area of ​​"Ocean Resources", biologists, geologists, economists and legal scholars work on researching the potential of organic and inorganic raw materials in the sea and on new ways of managing them.

In the “Innovations from the Ocean” working group, biologists, physicians and materials scientists research chemical, structural and physical principles from the ocean in order to use them for bionic materials, surface microstructures, coatings for medical products or dietary supplements.

Economists, legal scholars, mathematicians, biogeochemists, geologists and marine biologists work in the working group “The ocean as CO 2 storage” on an assessment of the potential and limitations of marine CO 2 sequestration techniques.

Geologists, geoengineers, economists and legal scholars research oceanic dangers and their socio-economic effects in the working group "Dangers of the Ocean".

Biologists, chemists, geochemists, geologists, oceanographers and mathematicians research the accumulation , change and transport of climate-relevant substances on and over the ocean surfaces in the working group “Ocean interfaces”.

In the working group “Evolution in the Ocean”, biogeochemists, marine ecologists, biologists and physicians try to evaluate the rapid evolutionary changes of populations, species and societies in connection with their biogeochemical environment.

Geophysicists, biogeochemists, palaeoceanographers and climate modelers are researching the role of the ocean in past climatic and environmental changes in the working group "Oceanic Regulatory Systems" and trying to decipher the main processes and potential climate-controlling turning points in order to be able to make statements about future global warming.

Chemical and physical oceanographers, computer scientists, geochemists, geologists, legal scientists and economists develop sensors and programs in the working group “Observation of the Ocean” to enable an improved global, regional and sustainable observation of the ocean.

In the “Predictions” working group, climate modelers and mathematicians work on improving modern climate models in order to shed light on the changes in regional ocean dynamics and biogeochemistry over the next 50 to 100 years.


The general assembly consists of the members of the cluster. It is convened at least once a year. Only full members are entitled to vote and are eligible for election; associated members have no voting rights and are not eligible for election. The spokesman or his representative chair the general assembly. The general assembly elects the spokesperson for the cluster of excellence and a vice-spokesperson from among its members; it also elects a spokesperson for each research activity and a deputy from among its members.

The council consists of the members of the board, the coordinators of the research topics and the main applicants. The council is convened at least twice a year and chaired by the spokesperson for the cluster of excellence. The council decides on the overall funding application to the DFG by voting, proposes the addition of new project areas to the executive board and sets up committees and elects their members.

The board consists of the spokesperson, the vice-spokesperson, the spokesperson for the research activities, a representative for gender issues, a spokesperson for the junior research group leaders, a representative for the postdocs employed in the Cluster of Excellence, the President of the CAU, the Director of the GEOMAR, the President of the Institute for World Economy and the President of the Muthesius Academy of Art. The board meets once a month if there is an agenda. It is headed by the spokesman for the Cluster of Excellence. The Board of Directors decides on personnel matters of the Cluster of Excellence, insofar as they do not fall within the competence of the appointment committees. On the basis of the internal review process, it decides on the use of the funds approved by the DFG for the Cluster of Excellence and on the composition of the Scientific Advisory Board.

Spokesperson and coordination team

Scientific Advisory Board

Resolutions of the organs are passed with a simple majority of the voting members present. A transfer of votes is not permitted. For an organ to have a quorum, at least 50% of the voting members must be present.

Principal Investigators

The 25 “Principal Investigators” are responsible for the scientific management of the individual research topics. Everyone is a leading scientist in his or her own specialty. There are also 12 “Junior Principal Investigators”. They are the junior research group leaders who were hired in Phase I.

Principal Investigators

First name Last Name Year of birth Institute Research area
1 Christian Berndt 1969 GEOMAR Dynamics of the sea floor
2 Markus Bleich 1964 CAU physiology
3 Claus Böning 1954 GEOMAR Ocean circulation & climate dynamics
4th Thomas Bosch 1955 CAU zoology
5 Malte Braack 1966 CAU mathematics
6th Stanislav Gorb 1965 CAU zoology
7th Wilhelm Hasselbring 1964 CAU Software development
8th Kaj Hoernle 1960 GEOMAR Marine geology
9 Gernot Klepper 1951 IfW Environmental policy
10 Arne Körtzinger 1963 GEOMAR Marine biogeochemistry
11 Mojib Latif 1954 GEOMAR Ocean circulation & climate dynamics
12 Kerstin Odendahl 1968 CAU International right
13 Sonja Peterson 1973 IfW Environment and raw material economy
14th Till Requate 1957 CAU Raw material economy
15th Thorsten Reusch 1965 GEOMAR Marine ecology
16 Ulf Riebesell 1959 GEOMAR Marine biogeochemistry
17th Ruth Schmitz dispute 1965 CAU Molecular biology
18th Ralph R. Schneider 1958 CAU Earth Sciences & Paleoceanography
19th M. Schulz 1957 MKHS Spatial planning
20th Ulrich Sommer 1952 GEOMAR Marine ecology
21st A. Srivastav 1958 CAU Applied Mathematics & Computer Science
22nd Karl Stattegger 1951 CAU Coastal geology
23 Friedrich Temps 1955 CAU Physical chemistry
24 Martin Visbeck 1963 GEOMAR Ocean circulation & climate dynamics
25th Klaus Wallmann 1960 GEOMAR Marine biogeochemistry

Junior Principal Investigators

First name Last Name Year of birth Institute Research area
1 G. Friedrichs 1969 CAU Physical chemistry
2 S. Krastel 1967 GEOMAR Marine geology
3 F. Melzner 1976 GEOMAR Marine ecology
4th Martin Quaas 1974 CAU Raw material economy
5 K. Rehdanz 1969 IfW Environment and raw material economy
6th P. Rosenstiel 1973 CAU Clinical Molecular Biology
7th Lars Rüpke 1975 GEOMAR Marine geology
8th Birgit Schneider 1971 CAU Biomechanical modeling
9 Kerstin Schrottke 1971 CAU Coastal geography
10 T. Slawig 1962 CAU Applied Mathematics & Computer Science
11 Tina Treude 1973 GEOMAR Marine biogeochemistry
12 Athanasios Vafeidis 1969 CAU Coastal geography

Further articles

  • World Ocean Review is a comprehensive report that shows the state of the world's oceans, the interdependencies between the ocean and ecological, economic and socio-political conditions
  • BIOACID German research association on ocean acidification

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The Cluster of Excellence "The Future Ocean" . Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  2. Ocean Change . Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  3. Marine Resources and Risks . Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  4. ^ Organizational form of the Cluster of Excellence "Future Ocean" during the first approval phase (2006-2011) . Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  5. ^ Future Ocean Annual Report 2008 . Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  6. ^ Future Ocean Annual Report 2009 . Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  7. ^ Future Ocean Annual Report 2010 . Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  8. ^ Organization of the Cluster of Excellence “The Future Ocean” . Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  9. ^ Renewal Proposal For a Cluster of Excellence The Future Ocean, The Future Ocean, August 8, 2011