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ECODRIVE - Ecosystem Change in the North Sea: Processes, Drivers and Future scenarios

Summary information

Funding:MarinERA ERA-NET project
Ec contribution:1417500
Start date:2009-04-01
End date:2012-03-31
Duration:36 months
Coordinator:Jürgen Alheit (
Organisation:Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde - Germany
Project name:ECODRIVE - Ecosystem Change in the North Sea: Processes, Drivers and Future scenarios
Project summary:ECODRIVE brings together climatologists, modellers, planktologists, fisheries experts and ecophysiologists with the aim to assess and model historical and projected future changes in the trophodynamic structure and function of the North Sea ecosystem. ECODRIVE advances our predictive understanding of the impacts of various drivers of ecosystem change including those acting via climate change and variability as well as those acting more regionally via anthropogenic forcing such as fisheries exploitation and eutrophication.

The approach entails a combination of:
• retrospective analysis of long-term (40 to 100 year) time series of key biotic and abiotic variables;
• field studies to obtain indispensable information on the trophodynamic role of new species; and
• a suite of climate, hydrodynamic and ecosystem models to allow the development of future scenarios.

The focus will be on the pelagic realm as groups of pelagic organisms (e.g. phyto-, zooplankton and small pelagic fishes) react rapidly and often dramatically to external drivers and play an important role as sentinels of ecosystem change. Whereas earlier studies usually focused on changes occurring only during the previous 30 years (1970-2000), ECODRIVE emphasizes a wider time window that includes two warm water periods (1930-1960 and the recent one) that exhibit many similarities such as the occurrence of warm water species in the North Sea. ECODRIVE employs regionally downscaled environmental forcing from global climate models to help project future scenarios of the ecosystem structure of the North Sea.