The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) in Hamburg has recently presented its most important topics of 2014. Water temperature records and storm surges in the North Sea, salt water intrusion in the Baltic Sea, environmental protection at sea, the rise of offshore wind energy dominated the work of the BSH last year.
Higher Water Temperatures Confirm Climate Change
With 11.4 ° C as annual average, the temperature of the North Sea surface water was 1.5 ° C higher than the long-term average. 2014’s average temperature thus reached the highest levels since the start of the regular official records in 1969. “In conjunction with other measurements, the trend to higher water temperatures has been clearly confirmed for the past 100 years,” Monika Breuch-Moritz said at the press conference. “This long-term development is a clear indicator of climate change”. In this context, she once again stressed the importance of long data and measurements. “They are just an indispensable part of the state infrastructure as waterways, bridges and roads, and need to be developed and maintained,” she said. “This is often underestimated or forgotten. They are the starting point of all knowledge, based on research, evaluation of contexts, and serve to objectify many conflicts of interest in regard to the Sea.”
Saltwater Intrusion At The Baltic Sea
The evaluation of salt water intrusion observed by the Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) in the second half of December, for instance, could only be identified and evaluated with the help of existing long data series. Comprising 198 km³ of registered water masses with four gigatonnes of salt, the salt water intrusion has been the third-largest since the start of respective monitoring in 1880. The Marine Environmental Monitoring Network of BSH (MARNET) with independent monitoring stations in the North and Baltic Sea made is possible to early identify and observe the water masses, and to estimate their volume.
Reduced Emissions By Vessels
Monitoring the rule-compliant use of marine fuels was another issue of the year 2014. Since 1 January 2015, the limit of 0.1 per cent sulfur content in ship fuel by vessels applies to certain areas North Sea and Baltic Sea (Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) ini order to reduce the harmful sulfur dioxide emissions. Together with the University of Bremen, the BSH developed methods for the determination of SO2 and other emissions in the exhaust fumes of the ships. “The shipping industry has meet this new challenge,” says Monika Breuch-Moritz. “Numerous innovations were triggered. Ferries and cruise ships make appropriate modifications to make or are switching to more environmentally friendly fuels.”
135 Offshore Wind Farm Operating in Germany’s North Sea
The good wind and weather conditions in 2014 stimulated the expansion of offshore wind energy. At the end of 2014, 135 wind turbines in the North Sea were connected to the grid (alpha ventus, Bard, Sea Wind). 461 wind turbines were newly installed last year (North Sea: 438; Baltic Sea: 23), and 720 foundations built (North Sea: 640, Baltic Sea: 80). The BSH issued permits for the wind farm projects OWP West, for the converter platforms and network connections HelWin2/beta, DolWin2/beta, and Northern Link and for a suction bucket jacket to be sucked into the ground.
Less Noise Pollution From Wind Farms
Significant progress has also been made in reducing noise pollution by offshore wind farms. Law has it that the noise of constructing offshore wind farms must not exceed 160 dB when 750 metres away. The noise capture was developed in close co-operation with environmental authorities and science and is documented in all building permits. In 2014 measurements, this limit for the protection of marine mammals – especially of the harbor porpoise – were kept almost reliably, unannounced checks by BSH shows. The President of the BSH praised the innovative developments: “It’s amazing what the creativity of engineers brought on its way, and what innovative solutions have been developed for noise reduction in recent years.”
More And More Digital Technology
The digitization of nautical charts also continued. With new technology aboard, the detection of underwater obstacles has advanced a great step, and details previously invisible are now clearly displayed. Risks of running aground are thus significantly reduced.
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