Short interview with Prof. Dr. Martin Visbeck, GEOMAR, on maritime solutions.

At the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, you also focus on the role of the ocean in relation to climate change. Do oceans receive enough attention in climate research?

Even though the ocean covers 2/3 of the Earth's surface, has absorbed 90 percent of the additional heat energy, and sea level rise poses an extremely complex challenge for the future, the ocean is often marginalized in climate research. There are several reasons for this: 1) Humans live on land and in the atmosphere. Measuring the ocean requires more effort, and it is relatively less well understood compared to other components of the Earth system. Nevertheless, I and many others take every opportunity to highlight the role of the ocean in climate change and advocate for more attention, research, and knowledge exchange across all aspects of marine science.

The so-called Blue Economy aims to protect the Earth's ecosystem and introduces technologies and solutions to the market. In which technologies do you see the greatest potential to advance the protection of the oceans?

Firstly, the blue economy (as I understand it) describes all economic sectors related to the sea that enable profits. These include tourism, maritime trade, fishing, oil and gas extraction, and other extraction of materials and substances from the sea. If one wants to make the 'blue' economy also 'green,' one must particularly address the negative consequences of these economic sectors on the sea. These are usually overuse and pollution. A sustainable Blue Economy seeks to balance protection and benefit wisely. This requires both the economy and administration (politics) to define and legally implement the right frameworks in terms of marine spatial planning. A powerful ocean observation system is needed for this. Improved simulations and models of the ocean can then be combined in the form of Digital Twins of the Ocean. With Digital Twins, current and future frameworks for the use and protection of the ocean can be developed and optimized for sustainability. Within each sector, technologies can help optimize use and minimize pollution or other undesired side effects. The range includes smart fishing methods, CO2- and noise-free propulsion, safe drilling, and extraction systems, etc.

Finally, what experiences could you take from your discussion round and the visit to INTERGEO as a technology show for geodata-based sustainability solutions?

The discussion has shown that we have not yet fully exploited all the potentials of networking between science, business, and administration. It is a complex and high-dimensional field with no simple solutions. Nevertheless, much can be improved through the use of geodata.

Professor Visbeck, thank you for the conversation.