The “Coastal Observing System for Northern and Arctic Seas” (COSYNA) is an integrated observing and modelling system that operationally and synoptically describes the environmental condition of North Sea and Arctic coastal waters. COSYNA makes data and data products available intended to assist the governmental, economic and public sectors in planning and processing routine tasks and emergency strategies as well as to assess trends. Scientific products and infrastructure are developed in COSYNA to expand our knowledge of the “global coast” and its regional characteristics.

COSYNA is coordinated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht and is operated in cooperation with many partners from the Helmholtz Association of German research centres, universities, state and federal authorities.

The COSYNA system encompasses a new dimension in marine monitoring. COSYNA is a pre-operational system – in contrast to an experimental system. The integrated approach is a central element of the system. Observations are combined with numeric modelling to reliably supply quality-controlled data and model forecasts. Data and products serve to answer scientific questions and provide information for political decision makers.

The observations encompass numerous in-situ (on-site) methods as well as coastal remote sensing by means of radar and space satellite. The heart of COSYNA observations is a standardized sensor packet affixed to stationary and mobile platforms. Physical, geochemical, biological and key sediment variables are measured with high temporal resolution in the water column as well as in the upper and lower boundary layers.

COSYNAs modelling activities consist of nested (“nested” into one another) models of different grid sizes for hydrography (salinity, waves, currents), for suspended matter and for biogeochemical and ecosystem processes. By employing elaborate data assimilation methods, that is, constant model corrections through observations, the reliability of the current described conditions and the short-term forecasts is considerably improved.

COSYNA strives to continuously provide timely post-processed products that decrease the gap between operational oceanography and various sea condition forecast users. The data and images are available via the data portal. In order to establish further contact with interest groups and the public, a web app is available.

This integrated approach offers a versatile instrument to understand and forecast processes and descriptions of North Sea and Arctic coastal conditions. COSYNA directly benefits coastal management and marine sciences by simultaneously supplying infrastructure and multi-faceted information products: COSYNA’s components are not only available to German research institutes, which take over a considerable responsibility in installing, maintaining and operating individual components, but also to the global research community.

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