Volker Brüchert, Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University
Volker Brüchert, Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University

How would you describe the project in a few sentences? 

All material that exchanges between the sediment and seawater must pass through the benthic boundary layer – a decimeter to several meters thick water layer above all sediments. We have relatively little information about the conditions in this layer, because it is difficult to sample with conventional methods. Yet, this layer is key for regulating the nutrient recycling between sediment and seawater and determines the habitat quality for benthic macro- and meiofauna. We need to learn more about the conditions in this water layer and its temporal and spatial variability to have a better predictive understanding of sediment-seawater exchange. Novel sampling methods and specially adapted oceanographic instrumentation is required to investigate this water layer. Data from these new measuring systems need to be parameterized in physical and biogeochemical circulation models. This workshop on biogeochemical and physical processes in the benthic boundary layer is intended to define the state-of-the-art of existing measuring platforms and the needs of modeling oceanographers for quantification of processes at this interface. Input from ecosystem-based management and modelers is required to learn which parameters need to be measured in the benthic boundary layer.

What would be the most important outcome, and for whom is the result particularly useful?

After the workshop we hope to have established a working group at Stockholm University with external collaborators for developing a research program around benthic boundary layer processes and their implementation in biogeochemical models. We hope to have an overview of the technical possibilities for measurements and decided on key measuring sites. A benthic modelling working group should also be established. The intention is to produce a working paper, possibly a review article, which summarizes the current state-of-the-art and the role of the benthic boundary layer in ecosystem-based management.

How can it assist an ecosystem-based management of the marine environment?

Understanding the processes regulating benthic habitat quality is a key requirement of ecosystem-based management. Using direct data from the benthic boundary layer will aid in linking benthic habitat quality with water chemistry. Quantitative treatment of benthic boundary-layer processes in biogeochemical models will further improve the use of ecosystem models for marine management.