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EU funds research project for water and soil management in the North Sea region in times of climate change with over 4.5 Mio. EUR

Hanover, Germany. Groundwater and soil resources of the North Sea region are under pressure from climate change, human use and the resulting landscape changes. The availability of sufficient high-quality water requires immediate systemic strategies. The "Blue Transition" project, led and coordinated by geophysicist Prof. Dr Mike Müller-Petke of the Leibniz Institute for Applied Geophysics (LIAG), focuses on sustainable water and soil management to strengthen the resilience of the North Sea region. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is funding "Blue Transition" in the Interreg North Sea Programme for three and a half years with over 4.5 million euros.

Moorland in the North Sea region. Source: Herbert Aust, Pixabay, licence-free.

Project areas in six countries: Germany, Denmark, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Sweden. Source: LIAG, Anne-Marie Pogoda-Dorsch.

Being able to guarantee sufficient water of good quality at all times is one of the major challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The EU strategy for adapting to climate change as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the EU guidelines for groundwater, water and soils call for rapid and systematic change. The joint project "Blue Transition" aims to enable such systematic change in a sustainable way through integrated water and soil management, taking into account complex factors that influence each other. Therefore, solutions will be developed in 16 pilot areas in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, France and Germany in a transnational approach and knowledge will be derived for water associations, farmers, authorities and society. By changing land use and integrative management of forests, agricultural and urban areas, peat- and wetlands as well as nature reserves, the aim is to sustainably secure groundwater resources in both short and long term, to ensure the future availability of good quality water, to protect natural habitats and to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions.

"With this grant, the European Union is funding an important interdisciplinary and transnational project to ensure the sustainable management of the North Sea region," explains Professor Mike Müller-Petke, who leads the groundwater research at LIAG. "Practical solutions shall be found in the pilot areas. These are aimed, among other things, at the management of agricultural land in coastal areas, the conservation and rewetting of peatlands or urban water management." For this purpose, it is important to record subsurface structures and processes more accurately and on a large scale with the help of geophysics, including the use of drones.

The consortium consists of 24 partners from six countries and builds on the EU-funded project TOPSOIL, which was completed in 2021. The large consortium links science, government, industry, stakeholders and society to drive and disseminate the implementation of the measures in a transnational and innovative way. A kick-off meeting of all participants is planned for next winter.

List of project partners:
LIAG, Waterboard of Oldenburg and East Frisia (OOWV), Chamber of Agriculture of Lower Saxony, State Authority for Mining, Energy and Geology, the Geological Survey for Bremen at the University of Bremen, Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Province of Drenthe, Waterschap Noorderzijlvest, Hunze en Aa’s regional water authority, Flanders Environment Agency, Natuurpunt Beheer vzw, Central Denmark Region, Region of Southern Denmark, Aarhus University, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Municipality of Aabenraa, VIA University College, University Rennes 1, French National Center of Scientific Research, Lorient community of municipalities, Lund University, Southern Sweden Water Supply, Geological Survey of Sweden.

Scientific contact

Prof. Dr Mike Müller-Petke
Telephone: +49 (0)511 643 3253
E-mail: Mike.Mueller-Petke@leibniz-liag.de