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Science Year 2016*17 – Seas and Oceans

Science Year 2016*17 – Seas and Oceans

Science Year "Seas and Oceans": Discover. Use. Protect.

They are vast, mysterious and still largely unexplored - The seas and oceans are the origin of all life and vital to the future of humanity. This is what German marine researchers will set out to show us during the Science Year 2016*17.

“The seas and oceans are a source of food, an economic space and they influence our climate,” says Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka. “That is what we want to show the public.” The Science Year is an invitation to everyone to explore the fascination of science, talk with experts and get involved. It will run for 16 months, from June 2016 until September 2017.

What can we still expect to discover in the depths of the oceans? What is the importance of shipping routes for our prosperity? What can we do to tackle the pollution of the seas? How will rising sea levels impact on coastal regions? These are the questions the explorers of today are seeking to answer on board marine research vessels.

Discover – Unknown species, unexplored depths

German researchers are using remote-controlled underwater vehicles, mobile sea floor drill rigs and many other innovative technologies to discover more about marine life at depths of up to 11 kilometres below the surface. They are exploring the habitat of millions of undiscovered species living between high peaks, steep canyons, lava-emitting volcanoes and vast plains all underwater. At least 90 percent of the sea is still unexplored. It is said that we know more about the dark side of the moon than about our planet’s oceans.

Use – Mankind depends on the seas

Humans have been exploiting the oceans as a source of food for over 140,000 years. More than two thirds of all goods transported to Germany are brought here by sea. The oceans also influence our global climate in that they have absorbed about half of all carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity in the past 150 years. Yet, many of us have forgotten just how much humankind depends on the seas and oceans.

Protect – The future of the seas is also our future

At the same time, millions of tons of plastic waste enter our oceans every year, turning our seas into huge rubbish tips. Plastic bottles, synthetic fibres and other plastic waste disintegrate into microparticles, sink to the ocean floor or are washed up on our beaches. They take up to 450 years to decompose. Researchers have already found microplastics in numerous fish species which then enter our food cycle, too. That is why protecting the seas from further pollution is also about protecting us humans from as yet unknown health risks.

Marine researchers are studying the impact of plastic waste on our ecosystem as well as the potential solutions and they will be discussing these issues with the public during the Seas and Oceans Science Year.

Experience the fascination of research: You can be curious, ask questions or come and visit us!

One thing is for sure: The Science Year 2016*17 will provide the public with fascinating insights into our oceans and seas. You will have the opportunity to communicate directly with German researchers who are exploring the mysteries above and below sea level. Anybody can take part in the Citizen Science projects. And everybody who is interested is warmly invited to participate in the Science Year and experience the fascination of research, whether it is by asking questions or attending our events.

The German Marine Research Consortium (KDM) is the expert partner supporting the Science Year 2016*17. The KDM is the central association of all major German research institutions in the area of marine, polar and coastal research with broad expertise in marine sciences.

The Science Years of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) have a long tradition. Since 2000, they have put the spotlight on a wide selection of topics, ranging from mathematics to health research and sustainable urban development. The Science Years enable the public to learn more about the work of researchers at German universities and research institutions. We invite you to come and take a look behind the scenes to experience the fascination of science!