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The seas and oceans are home to millions of marine species – the essential “performers” of coastal, marine and ocean ecosystem services. They provide oxygen to breathe and food for more than one-third of humanity. If species are severely depleted or become extinct and thus lose their ecological functions, the consequences can be severe.
The ocean regulates the climate and slows global warming by absorbing a large part of the temperature generated by human-made greenhaous gas emissions. However, sea levels and water temperatures rise as a result, and the water is becoming more acidic – all of which has consequences, for marine life and humans alike.
Humans have also created borders in the ocean and created zones where ownership of certain areas and their resources are regulated. But ocean currents transport water masses, living creatures, pollutants and waste across borders and into remote areas. Successful ocean management therefore requires collaborative solutions aimed at protecting and using the oceans sustainably.
Fish and other marine life are an important food resource for humans. Furthermore, there is the mining of raw materials, the construction of plants for energy production and shipping traffic. Additionaly, more and more people are seeking recreation on cruises and on the coasts. The increasing use is putting a strain on marine ecosystems.
The increasing pollution from trash and pollutants is putting a considerable strain on the oceans. Particularly visible are floods of plastic waste on beaches or oiled seabirds after a tanker accident. But most environmental problems do not appear openly like this, but far from the coast and hidden beneath the surface of the sea. Noise is also a serious threat to marine mammals.
Even with freedom in selection of research topics, the players in marine research need structural preconditions in order to be able to conduct effective science. For example, interdisciplinary research networks, a jointly used research fleet, or adequate research funding. In addition to university and non-university institutions of active marine research research, partners from society and politics are part of the research community.
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