Motivation & Goals

The goal of the APOC collaborative project is to understand how particulate organic carbon (POC) turnover contributes to carbon sequestration in the North Sea and how this ecosystem service is affected by global climate change and anthropogenic pressures. The sediment budget of the North Sea is strongly influenced by bottom-dwelling fisheries and other uses that result in the mobilization of sediments. These human interventions may result in less POC accumulated in sediment and less CO2 fixed in the North Sea. The APOC project aims to quantify these effects for the first time and help ensure that they are minimized through appropriate measures. The research will take place in the context of existing policy legislation, commitments and activities at national, regional and EU level. Improved knowledge transfer, coordinated dialogue with stakeholders and recommendations to policy makers are key tasks and objectives of the project.

Specific objectives of the APOC project are:

  1. Reconstruct natural POC dynamics and anthropogenic influences using sediment cores from the main depositional areas of the North Sea.
  2. Building a model system to simulate pelagic and benthic POC turnover. This will include the transfer of carbon through the food web, the physical dynamics of fine-grained lithogenic particles, and the deposition of POC in marine sediments and POC fixation in marine biomass.
  3.  Quantification of CO2 release from sedimentary POC by bottom-contact fisheries and other anthropogenic interventions leading to sediment mobilization. To this end, field and model experiments on CO2 release from anthropogenic sediment mobilization will be conducted and sediment core data will be analyzed.
  4. Simulate and identify past and future anthropogenic influences on the turnover and fixation of POC in the North Sea.
  5. Evaluation of how the storage capacity of POC in the North Sea can be maintained and strengthened through improved management without adversely affecting the ecosystem.
  6. Development of future scenarios and recommendations for action aligned with national, regional and EU bodies.
  7. Integration of the research results into the current marine policy, presentation of the recommendations for action in the relevant bodies and preparation for the public.