The international research program 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). GENUS actively studies the upwelling system since 2009 and is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). So 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. The Namibian coastal upwelling system has high seasonal and interannual variability in atmospheric forcing, in properties of water masses on the shelf offshore, and in oxygen supply and demand on the shelf itself. 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. The GENUS project is an endorsed project of the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) and an active part within the SPACES program (Science Partnerships for the Assessment of Complex Earth System Processes).
BMBF Framework Programme Research for Sustainable Development (FONA).