NOAHNorth Sea - Oberservation and Assessment of Habitats

An integrated approach to evaluate utilization, status, performance and provision of services of seafloor habitats and ecosystems in the German Bight


Short Description

Background: Since April 2013, the collaborative NOAH project has been the basis for a geo-referenced property inventory of the German Bight’s seabed in the North Sea.


  • Characterising the state of the seabed in the southern North Sea based on physically, biologically and chemically measurable values by creating a data foundation based on existing data, the project’s observations and model simulations.
  • Producing a concept of ecosystem-based risk assessment of anthropogenic pollution as well as designing a decision-making tool for cross-sector management in regards to the “Good Environmental Status of the Seabed” required by the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Status of Results: The Habitat Atlas developed within the collaborative NOAH project ( represents a new and vital platform for marine research data in Germany with far-reaching perspectives for national coastal research. In addition to collecting, assessing and displaying relevant geodata from different disciplines, a network with established portals could be created.

Planned works and products:

  • In conjunction with the Habitat Atlas provided by the NOAH-I collaboration, important foundations for assessment and planning within the framework of national and international requirements for sustainable use of the sea (MSFD, OSPAR, WFD, FFH, Natura 2000) and future planning and assessment of coastal infrastructures are to be created.
  • In the area of qualitative and quantitative measurement concepts, which serve as the basis for assessing planning activities in the economic and living environment of the North Sea, a model based approach is to close the gaps in current knowledge of the system. The basis for such management tools is to be provided by the NOAH Synthesis.  



NOAH I:                     04/2013 - 03/2016

 NOAH Synthesis:  04/2016 - 03/2019


Funding (total):

NOAH I:                                 1,521,277  €

 NOAH Synthesis:              1,101,612  €


Co-ordinator: Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Institute of Coastal Research – HZG


  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Institute of Coastal Research
  • Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
  • Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar und Marine Research
  • German Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, Hamburg
  • Senckenberg am Meer, Wilhelmshaven
  • Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Institute of Sea Fisheries, Hamburg
  • Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, University of Hamburg
  • Hamburg University of Applied Sciences

Latest Publications:

  • Emeis, K.-C., Beusekom, J. Van, Callies, U., Ebinghaus, R., Kannen, A., Kraus, G., Kröncke, I., Lenhart, H., Lorowski, I., Matthias, V., Möllmann, C., Pätsch, J., Scharfe, M., Thomas, H., Weisse, R., Zorita, E., 2015. The North Sea – A shelf sea in the Anthropocene. Journal of Marine Systems 141: 18–33.
  • Probst, W. N., Stelzenmüller, V. A., 2015. A benchmarking and assessment framework to operationalise ecological indicators based on time series analysis. Ecological Indicators 55: 94–106.
  • Zhao, Z.; Xie, Z.; Tang, J.; Gan, Z.; Ebinghaus, R. (2015): Spatial distribution of perfluoroalkyl acids in surface sediments of the German Bight, North Sea. Science of The Total Environment 511, 145-152 (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.12.063).
  • Complete list at:



  • Mapping the habitat properties and living communities for modelling benthic-pelagic processes and for measuring risks from human impact on the ecosystem.
  • Providing spatially available information on a number of different state variables and parameters in the form of digital maps for external users in the NOAH project’s geodata portal, known as the "Habitat Atlas" (www.noah‐




  • Project Coordinator
    Prof. Dr. Kay-Christian Emeis

    Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht
    Institute of Coastal Research
    Max-Planck-Straße 1, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany
    Tel.: +49 4152 87-1548

  • Project management
    Marcus Lange

    Tel: +49 4152 87 2347
    marcus.lange [at]