Motion and commotion at cold-water coral mound provinces in the Southeast Atlantic off Angola and Namibia\r\n\r\nDeep-sea benthic ecosystems, remote from the productive surface layer of the ocean, can be severely deprived of food. However, this organic matter poor environment contrasts with the often high species richness of the deep sea. Cold-water corals form highly specialized and enigmatic communities at the bottom of the ocean. Ocean currents and their spatial and temporal variability are important drivers for the feeding of corals. Recent studies have shown that cold-water coral reefs are abundant and thrive at local hydrodynamic hotspots, where currents interact with the steep and complex seafloor and generate vigorous mixing. This project will, using observational data and modelling techniques, investigate hydrodynamic framework conditions for cold-water coral growth and reef formation in a dynamic oceanographic setting along the Angolan slope and Namibian shelf in the Southeast Atlantic. Cold-water coral reefs have high conservation value due to important ecosystem services they provide. Consequently, they are on the OSPAR list of threatened species and habitats. In close collaboration with expert teams from MARUM (University of Bremen, Germany) and GEOMAR (Kiel, Germany), we aim for a significant progress in developing a process-understanding of the functioning and development of these fascinating deep-sea ecosystems.
Prof. Dr. Dierk Hebbeln, Universität Bremen