Eutrophication and acidification – North Sea

Alternative: Eutrophication and acidification in the North Sea
SDG: Life below water
Global mean ocean surface acidity (ESS code: 14_50 ) Close UN indicator: 14.3.1
Marine waters affected by eutrophication:  (ESS code: 14_60) Close UN indicator: 14.1.1

Copernicus components that will be used: 



Area description: The European marine regions cover an area of about 11M Km2, spanning different climate regimes and comprising many natural habitats which host a large variety of marine organisms and ecosystems. The European marine regions cover an area of about 11M Km2 and are subject to substantially different climate regimes, from the semi-arid conditions in the southern areas to the cold temperate climate in the north. These environments represent an important source of food, raw materials, and energy for more than 650M people living in the coastal catchment areas. In particular, maritime activities have significantly expanded in the latest decades leading to the widening of aquaculture productivity, the growth of trade routes, and the rise in the demand for recreational uses.

Rationale: Marine ecosystems around Europe have been significantly altered by centuries of human exploitation and their ability to provide key ecosystem services is decreasing with an uneven intensity (Culhane et al., 2020). The growing population density along coastal areas has required a massive increase in the development of infrastructure, with a detrimental effect on the water quality conditions of several regional seas. Moreover, traditional maritime activities such as fishing and aquaculture have become more intensive and widespread, and the intensification of global trades lead to an enormous progression of the shipping industry (EEA, 2015). Climate change is also endangering the health of marine ecosystems by warming and acidifying sea waters, with consequences on the life cycles of several marine organisms (Andersson et al., 2015). All these issues are framed within the SDG 14 “Life below water”, with specific reference to SDG indicators 14_60, addressing the reduction of marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities (e.g., eutrophication), and 14_50, addressing the impacts of ocean acidification.
Applications: (currently not applicable)
Leader: CMCC

Main stakeholders involved

Users involved in the monitoring of the marine environmental status and planning of coastal and maritime activities development.

Currently: Wadden Sea Academy, GEOMAR, Seascape Belgium, CEFAS, IFREMER

Objectives: The effective detection of eutrophication and ocean acidification over the European seas implies the integration of physical and biogeochemical data produced by different monitoring services that operate at various spatiotemporal scales. All this information requires appropriate data workflow management for their correct integration and the successful delivery of consistent environmental metrics. The Pilot case will serve as a base to develop robust assessment tools to tackle marine eutrophication and acidification by exploiting the multiplatform informational datasets.

Expected results & outcomes: The Pilot will deliver a Copernicus-based tool distributing maps of the two SDG indicators for the North Sea region and data will be made available to the users through a dedicated DSS which will allow exploring the information through spatio-temporal statistics.

Outcomes of the study can support through more accurate data national policy-making processes related to the sustainable management of marine resources and serve to get a deeper knowledge of climate change impacts on vulnerable areas.

References: Andersson et al. (2015) Doi:10.5670/oceanog.2015.27; Culhane et al. (2020) Doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2020.105154; European Union (2008); EEA (2015) Doi:10.2800/0466


The SDGs-EYES project is funded by the European Union | Credits