Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

North Sea Centre of Expertise

The NIOZ North Sea Centre (NSC) offers expertise and assistance to researchers, policy-makers, industry, ngo's and other stakeholders interested in the environmental health status of the North Sea. The researchers of NSRC take an integrated, cross-disciplinary approach to the North Sea ecosystem, combining physical, geological, and chemical aspects (both water and sediment), as well as the biological dimensions and its biodiversity, from the molecular to the ecosystem level. Special attention is given to the North Sea in transition: natural and anthropogenic pressures on the system, including climate change and potential cumulative effects of the use of various goods and services in the North Sea.



Habitat conditions The North Sea ecosystem is determined by hydrography: tides, currents, temperature, salinity, stratification; geomorphology: sediment composition, bed forms; and chemistry: nutrients, carbon, pollutants.
Microbial activity Marine microbes make up the majority of the living biomass in the sea and control much of the flow of energy and nutrients. Understanding the underlying (a)biotic controls is vital.
Primary production Primary production, the production of phytoplankton biomass, forms the base of the food chain, and is indicative for the carrying capacity of the North Sea. It is closely linked to water quality.
Soft-sediment macrobenthos Macrobenthos at soft sediments: organisms living in the sediments play an important role in the nutrient cycles. They form an important link to the higher trophic levels up to fishes and affect the geomorphology of the seabed.
Hard-substrate macrobenthos Hard substrates provided by offshore installations form important habitats by attracting epifouling species. These species reach biomass that changes local food webs, with ecological implications for their immediate soft bottom surroundings.
Seabirds & Fish NIOZ is one of the founding fathers of the European Seabirds at Sea database, an international initiative that was established in the early 1980s and aimed at mapping resources of charismatic megafauna throughout the North Sea.
Carrying capacity Natural processes, interactions, and anthropogenic pressures are synthesised, yielding models that provide an integrated view on the North Sea’s carrying capacity, ecosystem functioning and resilience for the past, present and future.
Seaweed farming The eutrophic North Sea offers good possibilities for cultivation of seaweeds, especially in a multi-use setting, e.g. in combination with wind farms and shellfish production.
Sea water chemistry Sea water chemistry of the North Sea shows large spatial and temporal variability, interlinked with climate and biology. Detecting trends in times of ongoing anthropogenic impact is challenging against this highly dynamic background.
Methane dynamics Methane is the third most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. On a molecule-by-molecule basis, methane is about 32-fold more potent than carbon dioxide, and atmospheric concentrations have been steeply rising over the last decades.

News & Events


Dutch partners: NSRC researchers collaborate with Wageningen Marine Research (WMR), Deltares, TNO, various Dutch universities, NGO's, industrial stakeholders and ministries.

International partners: since the North Sea and its currents transgress national borders much of the NSRC research takes place in an international context. NIOZ is a signatory participant in CORIANE, the 'Coastal Research Institutes Alliance Northwestern Europe', on joint research in the North Sea together with German, Danish, Norwegian and British institutions.

North Sea Research Centre facilities

Building on more than 140 years of environmentally oriented studies of the North Sea, NIOZ research revolves around key fundamental and frontier-applied questions that help to address societal challenges now and in the future.

The NIOZ North Sea Research Centre (NSRC)  is a 'virtual centre of expertise' of collaborating researchers working from both NIOZ Texel, on the doorstep of the North Sea and NIOZ Yerseke on the Eastern Scheldt.

NSRC research is based on in-situ field observations, remote sensing, experimental approaches, laboratory tests, and modelling and makes use of NIOZ National Marine Facilities (NMF): equipment and research vessels RV Pelagia for offshore waters and RV Navicula for coastal waters, also available for the seagoing marine science and maritime community in the Netherlands.

Contact and questions

Are you interested in the facillities or expertise of the North Sea Research Centre or just want to ask a question, please use the contact form (preferred) below and you will get a response as soon as possible.  In very urgent matters you can contact us by phone.

Herman Hummel

Coordinator NSRC & Senior scientist at the department of Estuarine & Delta Systems (EDS)

Phone: +31 (0)113 577 484

NSRC contact form >>>

Recent publications

Pilotto, F., Kühn, I., Adrian, R. et al. Meta-analysis of multidecadal biodiversity trends in Europe. Nature Communications 11, 3486 (2020).

Klunder, L., Lavaleye, M.S.S., Filippidi, A., van Bleijswijk, J.D.L., Reichart, G.-J., van der Veer, H.W., Duineveld, G.C.A., Mienis, F. (2018). Impact of an artificial structure on the benthic community composition in the southern North Sea: assessed by a morphological and molecular approach. ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Donders, T.H.; van Helmond, N.A.G.M.; Verreussel, R.; Munsterman, D.; ten Veen, J.; Speijer, R.P.; Weijers, J.W.H.; Sangiorgi, F.; Peterse, F.; Reichart, G.-J.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Lourens, L.; Kuhlmann, G.; Brinkhuis, H. (2018). Land–sea coupling of early Pleistocene glacial cycles in the southern North Sea exhibit dominant Northern Hemisphere forcing. Clim. Past 14(3): 397-411.

De Nooijer L.J. & G.J. Reichart (2018). Causes and consequences of Ocean Acidification, with special emphasis on the Dutch territorial waters, NIOZ report, 2018-04.

Van der Molen, J., Ruardij, J., Mooney, K., Kerrison, P., O'Connor, N.E., Gorman, E., Timmermans, K., Wright, S., Kelly, M., Hughes, A.D., Capuzzo, E., 2018. Modelling potential production of macroalgae farms in UK and Dutch coastal waters. Biogeosciences 15, 1123-1147, DOI

Van der Molen, J., Garcia, L., Whomersley, P., Callaway, A., Posen, P., Hyder, K. Modelling connectivity of larval stages of sedentary marine communities between offshore structures in the North Sea. Nature Scientific Reports, in press.

Whomersley, P., van der Molen, J., Holt, D., Trundle, C., Fletcher, D. Modelling the dispersal of spiny lobster (Palinurus elephas) larvae from populations found in southwest England: Implications for future fisheries management and conservation measures. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, Article 58, 16 pp.

Claire Beraud, Johan van der Molen, Mike Armstrong, Ewan Hunter, Leila Fonseca and Kieran Hyder, 2017. The influence of oceanographic conditions and larval behaviour to settlement success - the European seabass Dicentrarchus labrax (L.). ICES journal of Marine Science, doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsx195.

Bryony L. Townhill, Johan van der Molen, Julian D. Metcalfe, Stephen D. Simpson, Adrian Farcas, John K. Pinnegar, 2017. Consequences of climate-induced low oxygen conditions for commercially important fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 580, 191-204, DOI:

Ford, D., Forster, R., van der Molen, J., Bacon, J., Barciela, R., Creach, V., McEwan, R., Ruardij, P., Hyder, K., 2017. Observing and modelling phytoplankton community structure in the North Sea: can ERSEM-type models simulate biodiversity? Biogeosciences 14, 1419-1444.

Van der Molen, J., Ruardij, P., and Greenwood, N. (2017). A 3D SPM model for biogeochemical modelling, with application to the northwest European continental shelf. Journal of Sea Research 127, 63-81.

Van der Molen, J., Ruardij, P., Greenwood, N., 2016. Potential environmental impact of tidal energy extraction in the Pentland Firth at large spatial scales: results of a biogeochemical model. Biogeoscienses 13, 2593-2609, doi:10.5194/bg-13-2593-2016.

van Leeuwen, S.M., Tett, P., Mills, D.K., van der Molen, J., 2015. Stratified and nonstratified areas in the North Sea: long-term variability and biological and policy implications. JGR Oceans 120, 4670-4686, DOI: 10.1002/2014JC010485.

Van der Molen, J., van Beek, J., Augustine, S., Vandensteenbrugge, L., van Walraven, L., Langenberg, J., van der Veer, H.W., Hostens, K., Robbens, J., Pitois, S., 2015. Modelling survival and connectivity of Mnemiopsis leidyi in the southern North Sea and Scheldt estuaries. Ocean Sci. 11, 405-424, 2015. doi:10.5194/os-11-405-2015
Van der Molen, J., Smith, H.C.M., Lepper, P., Limpenny, S., Rees, J., 2014. Predicting the large-scale consequences of offshore wind array development on a North Sea ecosystem. Continental Shelf Research 85, 60-72I 10.1016/j.csr.2014.05.018