PRESS RELEASE | 18.07.2019

The federal and North German state governments have signed an agreement establishing an alliance of German marine research facilities

German Marine Research Alliance kicks off

With their signatures, the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, Bremen’s Science Senator, Eva Quante-Brandt, Hamburg’s Science Senator, Katharina Fegebank, the Ministers of Science for Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Karin Prien and Bettina Martin, and undersecretary Sabine Johannsen, from Lower Saxony, today put into force the administrative agreement to set up and promote the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM, from the German Deutsche Allianz Meeresforschung).

The Federal Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, emphasised that, “The German Marine Research Alliance will bring together the expertise of research facilities and universities under a single roof. This is more important than ever, because the marine and climate sciences are making a decisive contribution to safeguarding our future. The German Marine Research Alliance is to provide a knowledge base for action on issues that are relevant to society – such as the diversity of species in the oceans and mitigating climate change. It is no coincidence that the oceans are considered to be the climate engine of our planet. The German Marine Research Alliance will help us to gain an even better understanding of the vital role that seas and oceans play, and become a source of valuable information when it comes to shaping our future. This is why the federal government has set aside up to 45 million euros for the German Marine Research Alliance up until 2022. Outstanding marine research from Germany must become a hallmark of our international collaboration, adding to the visibility of our contribution to protecting the climate.”

“The individual states are motivated to join in the German Marine Research Alliance by the desire to channel the tremendous know-how that exists at North German research facilities in order to find answers to the pressing questions of marine research, with a view to securing and consolidating our top international position,” said Bremen’s Science Senator Eva Quante-Brandt, who is currently the chairwoman of the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz, GWK).

Signing of the agreement to establish the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM)
Signing of the agreement to establish the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM) in Bonn on 18 July. From left to right: Bremen's Science Senator Eva Quante-Brandt, Hamburg's Science Senator Katharina Fegebank, Federal Minister of Research Anja Karliczek, State Secretary Sabine Johannsen from Lower Saxony, Science Minister Karin Prien from Schleswig-Holstein. | Picture: BMBF/Hans-Joachim Rickel

This creates one of the world’s largest marine research alliances, whose goal is to develop a solutions-oriented knowledge base for action towards the sustainable management of the seas and oceans. The federal government and the five North German states Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein will together provide 56.25 million euros in funding for this purpose up until 2022. The federal government is covering 80 percent of the costs, while the individual states are contributing the remaining 20 percent.

The five North German states are a key centre of German marine research. The German Marine Research Alliance will bring together universities and other research facilities, such as Helmholtz Centres and Leibniz and Max Planck Institutes, permitting them to jointly carry out top-class research at the highest international level. The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres is providing fundamental support and assistance to the DAM and its offices by setting up the necessary interconnected data infrastructure that will permit new findings to be extracted from the research data collected.

Bolstering the sustainable management of seas and oceans together

“The Alliance will address the great socially relevant issues of the future in marine research by conducting joint research missions at the highest level,” explained Michael Bruno Klein, the chairman of the DAM board. “To achieve this, we will channel our various competencies and develop and expand existing and new infrastructure, technologies and information systems.”

Seas and oceans play a key role in global climate processes. They are among the most important ecosystems of the Earth and they have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people. “They are subject to considerable anthropogenic pressures, for example through rising carbon dioxide concentrations, pollution and intensive use,” explained Michael Schulz, the deputy chairman of the DAM.

In joint research missions, the DAM will develop potential courses of action for the sustainable management of the oceans. The first two topics for the pilot phase will comprise, on the one hand, ways of protecting and utilising marine habitats in order to preserve biodiversity and the function of ecosystems; and on the other hand, an analysis on the future of marine carbon sinks as a knowledge base for action in shaping climate policy. Beyond this, the DAM will support data management and digitalisation in the marine sciences, and in the long term it is to coordinate and optimise the utilisation of large marine infrastructures.

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek at a podium during the signing of the agreement to establish the German Alliance for Marine Research (DAM)
Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek at the signing of the agreement on the establishment of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM) on 18 July in Bonn. | Picture: BMBF/Hans-Joachim Rickel

German marine research extends to a wide range of different specialised disciplines in the field of coastal, marine, climate and polar research. With its research ships and stations, aircraft, observatories and underwater vessels, it can draw on a unique research infrastructure. In providing more than 4,000 jobs in Northern Germany, marine research is also an important economic factor.

Founding of the association on 4 July: broadly grounded in science

The German Marine Research Alliance was itself established in the legal form of a registered association, on 4 July in Berlin, by the following institutions: the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg with its Institute for the Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), the Christian Albrecht University in Kiel (CAU) with its Kiel Marine Science (KMS), the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, the Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht – Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG), the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Research Warnemünde (IOW), the Leibniz Centre for  Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), MARUM – Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science e.V. (MPG) with the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPI-MM) and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M), the Senckenberg Nature Research Society with Senckenberg by the Sea, the University of Hamburg with its Centre for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN) and the University of Rostock with its Maritime Systems department (MTS).

At the same time, the board of the Alliance was elected: its fulltime board chairman is Michael Bruno Klein, who has been actively involved in science management for over 20 years, holding the office of secretary general of the Leibniz Association and the secretary general of acatech – the German Academy of Science and Engineering. His deputy is Michael Schulz, director of the MARUM Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen. Karin Lochte, the former director of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), und Peter Herzig, director of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, are also members of the board, which has been elected for a period of four years.

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The federal government and the regional governments of the five Northern German federal states are supporting and funding the current establishment of the DAM. In addition, the DAM is supported by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

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