Research and Technology Centre, West Coast

Forschungs- und Technologiezentrum Westküste.png

Research topics

1. Concepts and strategies for coastal protection

The FTZ has been engaged in the development of state-of-the-art strategies for the design of coastal structures. Deterministic and probabilistic methods accounting for the effect of extreme water levels due to tides, storms, external surges and sea level rise have been proposed. The selection of design parameters for coastal structures in terms of water levels and waves have been estimated for the German North and Baltic Sea coasts. For this purpose the extreme storms of 1967, 1976 and 1999 on the North Sea and the storm of 1872 on the Baltic Sea have been reconstructed using high resolution meteorological forcing and hydrodynamic models.

2. Coastal environmental sustainability

The research centre is actively involved with the development of decision support systems (DSS) information systems for the sustainable environmental management. Key environmental parameters have been selected using a combination of specially designed in-situ measurements and numerical models. The development of DSS for selection of suitable sites and estimation of carrying capacity due to floating fish farming in Asia is currently underway. Strategies for improving the selection of suitable sites, environmental criteria for estimation of carrying capacities, zoning and monitoring of cage aquaculture have been proposed.

3. Environmental impacts of human activities

The research centre has been actively involved in the assessment of the impacts of human activities on coastal environments. Predictions of the impacts of coastal structures and dredging and dumping operations on morphodynamics have been carried out for several estuaries in Germany. High resolution process based models have been developed for this purpose. Predictions of their effects on the short, medium and long term morphodynamics have been carried out for several harbours and structures on the German North Sea. Particular attention is given to the colaboration and validation of morphodynamic models using high resolution bathymetric measurements..

4. Potentials of offshore renewable energies

The research centre has been involved in the development of strategies and investigation of the impacts due to the construction of offshore wind parks. Operational monitoring of water levels, waves and scour depths in the vicinity of large piers have been carried out. Studies to investigate the cumulative effect of several wind parks on the German North Sea have been done. Decision Support Systems (DSS) for nowcasting and forecasting of water levels, waves and scour depths are currently under development for the North Sea coast. Data assimilation techniques in conjunction with neuronal networks have been used to improve model accuracy. The FTZ is also involved in the development of DSS for the selection of suitable sites and estimation of the effective power potential due tidal currents and waves in Indonesia. 

5. Influence of climate change, sea level rise and extreme events on coastal environments

The FTZ is involved in the improvement of the understanding of the effects of climate change, sea level rise and extreme events on coastal environments worldwide. Investigations on the relative importance of the various effects on hydrodynamics and morphodynamics have been carried out using a combination of field measurements and process based models. Bathymetrical surveys using multi-beam echo-sounders in combination with process based models for predicting morphological changes on the short and medium terms have been done. Investigations of the effects of storms and tsunamis on the morphodynamics are underway.

6. Interactions of physical and biological processes in coastal seas

The multidisciplinary skills of the research groups at the FTZ research centre facilitate the investigation of effects of hydrodynamic processes on sediment transport in shallow seas and on marine habitats, enabling statements about the quality of types of habitats and their functioning. Basic research and modeling represent important scientific tools.

In this context ecological studies aim at an understanding of the food web covering the organisms from primary producers and macro-zoobenthic fauna to the end consumers as there are sea birds and marine mammals. The results provide an important contribution to the assessment of the state of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in the framework of international conventions.