Kiel-KOSMOS – Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften an der Universität Kiel

The Kiel Off-Shore Mesocosms for future Ocean Simulations – KOSMOS – at IFM-GEOMAR is a newly established ocean observatory and experimentation system for deployment in open waters. A first prototype designed in 2005 was progressively improved based on numerous tests in wave simulation tanks and in the field. With its first full-scale field applications in the Gotland Sea, Proper Baltic in the summer of 2007 and 2008 KOSMOS is the first mesocosm system worldwide successfully operated in off-shore waters.

The mesocosm system can be deployed from any mid-sized research vessel. It presently comprises 6 free-floating units, each consisting of a floatation frame (5.8 m high, 2.8 m diameter, made of fiber-glass and stainless steel) and a 2 m diameter, 20 meter long flexible bag.

After deployment of the mesocosm unit, the bag unfolds by weights pulling down its lower end to depth, thereby enclosing a water column 65 m2 in volume. The bag is then closed at the bottom by acrylic plastic shutters. At this stage, manipulation of the enclosed water body can start according to the experimental requirements. Experimental perturbations include nutrient additions, CO2 enrichment, and additions of invading species.

Following tests in 2007 and 2008, the mesocosms were upgraded with new extremely strong bottom-plates (in polycarbonate plastic). The length of the floatation frames was also increased to 6.3 m. The complete system will undergo several test deployments during spring and summer 2009 in the Baltic, where after it will be ready for deployment in the Arctic in late spring/early summer 2010.

In a cooperative mesocosm experiment, MESOAQUA will join forces with the FP7 project EPOCA (European Project on OCean Acidification) to conduct a full-scale mesocosm CO2 enrichment experiment in the Kongsfjord, Svalbard, in late spring/early summer 2010. The experiment will be coordinated by IFM-GEOMAR and will allow MESOAQUA partners and external users to team up with EPOCA scientists to study the impacts of CO2-induced ocean acidification on a high Arctic plankton community. The comprehensive data set generated by this joint activity, made available through open access to all involved partners, will allow an integrative approach study of the complex responses of pelagic communities to climate change.

Services that will be offered by the infrastructure:

Users will have the unique opportunity to participate in multidisciplinary mesocosm experiments carried out in the open seas under close to natural conditions. Users will

  • Be able to carry out their specific measurements during coordinated mesocosm experiments
  • Have unrestricted access to the large data sets generated by all participants of the experiment
  • Contribute to obtaining an integrated view of the responses of a complex biological system, the pelagic ecosystem.
  • Be part of a high-profile, high-visibility research project and be able to interact with leading scientists from a wide range of disciplines, ranging from marine and atmospheric chemists, cell and molecular biologists, marine ecologists, to biogeochemists and physical oceanographers.

Opening for Transnational Access:

KOSMOS – Mesocosm-Experiment in Svalbard 2010: From 1 June to 15 July 2010 the new developed and successfully tested KOSMOS (Kiel-Off-Shore-Mesocosms for future Ocean Simulation) will be deployed in the Arctic waters around Svalbard (see updated Calendar). Nine of the 8 m high and 2 t heavy floating bodies with their 17 m long bags will allow scientists to simulate ocean acidification in approximately 40 m³ water, each. After the addition of gaseous CO2 in nine different concentrations the experiment will run approximately 6 weeks. During this time chemists, biogeochemists, ecologist and physicists will analyse the phytoplankton blooms, growing under different conditions. Among variations in the biogeochemical processes and the air/sea gas exchanges especially the arctic pteropods and calcifying larvae are of interest. Results gathered in mono-culture lab experiments suggest that the calcification rates of these organisms seem to be affected by ocean acidification.


Prof. Dr. Ulf Riebesell
Leibniz-Institut f. Meereswissenschaften
Düsternbrooker Weg 20
24105 Kiel, Germany
phone:+49 431 600 4444
fax: +49 431 600 4446

Dr. Michael Meyerhöfer
Leibniz-Institut f. Meereswissenschaften
Düsternbrooker Weg 20
24105 Kiel, Germany
phone:+49 431 600 4214
fax: +49 431 600 4446

Modality of access under MESOAQUA: Due to the considerable logistics KOSMOS will be run only during one period in close cooperation with the FP7 project EPOCA (European Project on Ocean Acidification). MESOAQUA will offer access to up to 4 participations staying for a 35-day period in Ny Ålesund between June and July 2010. For more information please contact:

Support offered to users includes:

  • The full operation of the KOSMOS facility during mesocosm experiments
  • Logistical and technical coordination of the research activity
  • Access to work at the research station
  • Coordinated data exchange and data workshops

MESOAQUA web site.

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OA-ICC Highlights

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