How does the Benguela Upwelling System work?

The coastal region off southwest Africa is one of the four large Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems, which are the four largest coastal upwelling systems on earth. Although the upwelling systems cover only a small percentage of the overall ocean surface, the majority of commercial fishing takes place in these highly productive regions. The Benguela System is the most productive upwelling system in the world and is therefore of enormous socio-economic importance, far beyond the borders of Africa. The GENUS research project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, has investigated the complex relationships of this ecosystem for six years, combining direct measurements on research vessels with modelling, to understand the control mechanisms and seasonal and annual variability.

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Universität Hamburg
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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 (sout-west Africa). The coastal upwelling system 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.

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)

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