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GENUS - Overview

What is the GENUS project?

** Benguela Special Issue published in Journal of Marine Systems 2018 **

GENUS (Geochemistry and Ecology of the Namibian Upwelling System) aims to clarify relationships between climate change, biogeochemical cycles, and ecosystem structure in the large marine ecosystem of the northern Benguela / Namibian coast (SW Africa). The coastal upwelling system (Map) has high seasonal and interannual variability in atmospheric forcing, in properties of water masses on the shelf offshore the Republic of Namibia, and in oxygen supply and demand on the shelf. In consequence, concentrations and ratios of nutrients in upwelling water and their CO2-content have steep gradients in space and time. In the past, significant and economically severe changes in ecosystem structure have occurred which are in part attributed to changes in physical forcing, translated to the ecosystem by oxygen dynamics. See Work Packages, Capacity Building and Institutions for more and detailed information on the GENUS cooperation and browse our poster presentation, podcast series or ROV video clips to gain an impression of our research.


Why are upwelling areas so important?

The global coastal ocean comprises around 7% of the Earth surface, has a significant role in the sequestration of carbon by hosting 25% of global biological productivity (prominently in upwelling areas) and storing 90% of organic carbon runoff from land in sediments, and yields 90% of global fisheries. While the physical boundary conditions of shelf seas (and upwelling systems in particular) are adjusting to global warming, human society continues to exploit their natural resources (minerals, fossil fuels, fish) without sufficient understanding and prognostic capabilities to foresee how exactly the interplay of changing physical drivers and continued exploitation will affect ecosystem structures and functioning.


Who is funding GENUS?

The GENUS project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is an endorsed project of the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER). The first project phase (GENUS-I) was successfully conducted between March 2009 and April 2012. The second phase (GENUS-II) started in May 2012 and ends in April 2015. The GENUS project is one of the first active projects within the SPACES program (Science Partnerships for the Assessment of Complex Earth System Processes) under the BMBF's framework program "Research of Sustainable Development" (FONA).

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