The objective is to assess the regional consequences of the climate change for the ocean circulation and its impact when it changes – the consequences for the Atlantic and its European marginal seas, i.e. Baltic Sea, North Sea and the entire northwest European shelf area as well as the Arctic and continental Europe. They will deal with the development of the Gulf Stream which transports necessary warmth to Europe, but also with maritime ecological systems, fishing and coastal protection: “A change in the circulation could lead to a local rise in sea level, namely additional to the rise caused by global climate change”, says Professor Detlef Stammer of the Centre for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN) of the University of Hamburg where the project is being coordinated. Indeed, the ocean current in the Atlantic varies considerably which makes it more difficult to distinguish this natural oscillation from long-term trends started by man-made climate change.
RACE uses the results of the recently concluded project “North Atlantic” where key aspects in the subpolar and tropical Atlantic as well as in the Fram Strait have already been analyzed, and first predictions have been made. Now, the future ocean circulation is to be simulated regionally with improved models. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) finances the project with EUR 4.5 million for an initial time period of three years. Involved are the Alfred Wegner Institute for Polar and Marine Research, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology as well as the universities of Bremen and Hamburg.