Analysis and forecasting of change in the marine environment

Title

Analysis and forecasting of change in the marine environment: a method for identifying impact of large scale offshore wind farms on marine fauna.


Type

PhD-research

Persons involved

Blanca Pérez Lapeña (PhD student)

Prof. Dr Suzanne J.M.H. Hulscher (promoter)

Dr. Kathelijne M. Wijnberg

Prof. Dr. Ir. Alfred Stein


Funding

BSIK- project We@Sea


Duration

August 2006 – November 2010


Short description

In recent years, offshore wind power has emerged as a promising renewable energy resource. However, if we want to guarantee that these developments are also ecologically sustainable it is important to assess the impact of offshore windfarms on marine fauna. In the marine environment, ecological impact assessment is a difficult task as the system includes many types of organisms and phenomena that interact in a complex and often unpredictable manner. In this research work, we present a transparent analysis of multiple spatio-temporal data sets that contain (direct or indirect) information on the impact of offshore wind farms on marine fauna. The outcomes of the study can aid ecological experts and spatial planners in achieving sustainable development plans for offshore windfarms.


The case treated in the study involves displacement of seabirds due to windfarm construction. For this purpose, an impact assessment method is developed that takes into account spatial structures in ecological data, spatial distribution of environmental factors and survey effort and design. In particular, the method focuses on quantifying the probabilities that impacts remain undetected when a particular monitoring scheme is followed. With this information, environmental managers are informed about the risk level that is taken without further protective measures. This insight may also guide new protective measures or identify the need for different monitoring strategies.