Topic 6: Marine and polar Life

The planet's largest habitat - How can we explore, protect and sustainably use oceans and polar regions? Warming, acidification, oxygen depletion and pollution: all these processes are changing the oceans, the largest habitat on our planet. This is compounded by over-exploitation by fisheries and plans to exploit resources from the seafloor down to the deep sea in the future. These changes affect marine life: organisms migrate to new habitats, some adapt, others are displaced, and biodiversity decreases, with as yet largely unexplored consequences for the complex marine ecosystem.



Many interactions and processes in the complex ecosystem under water or under sea ice are still not understood. Many regions are still completely unexplored. In addition, organisms have to adapt to changing environmental conditions through evolution or open up new habitats through migration. There are winners and losers here - and the changes are also taking place very rapidly compared with other episodes in the (climate) history of our planet.

Within the framework of the programme "Changing Earth - Sustaining our Future" in the fourth phase of the Helmholtz Association's (PoF) project-oriented funding programme, the topic led by GEOMAR: "Marine and Polar Life: Sustaining Biodiversity, Biotic Interactions and Biogeochemical Functions", these complex interactions in the marine ecosystem are being studied in detail. Main partner in this so-called Topic 6 is the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). While the AWI concentrates on the polar regions and issues in the North Sea environment, GEOMAR focuses more on areas in mid and low latitudes and the deep sea.

The topic is divided into four sub-themes: "Future ecosystem functionality", "Adaptation of marine life: from genes to ecosystems", the "Future biological carbon pump" and "Use and misuse of theocean: Consequences for marine ecosystems’".


More about Topic 6 on the webpages of the Helmholtz Research Field Earth and Environment