EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Assessing ecosystem effects of changes to man​-made infrastructure in the ​North ​Sea

Michael Bedington, Gennadi Lessin, Molly James, and Paul Somerfield
Michael Bedington et al.
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, United Kingdom

The north sea is a highly productive area, both biologically and for a variety of economic activities. It is also undergoing great change; anthropogenic usage is changing with Oil and gas activities ramping down whilst offshore wind installations are increasing, all against the increasing impact of climate change. For oil and gas structures there is an active debate as to the positive or negative ecosystem effects of different decom​missioning strategies for structures (e.g. removal, topp​ling). Whilst the effect of different options have been ​extensively studied at the level of individual structures, it is necessary to consider them in a basin wide context and ​in combination with the effect of other contemporary pressures.

Here we use coupled physics-biogeochemistry models (GOTM-ERSEM, FVCOM-ERSEM and FVCOM-PyLAG with specific adaptions for man-made structures to understand the possible scope and magnitude of effects on the north sea ecosystem for different decommissioning scenarios of oil and gas structures (removal, toppling, leaving intact). Specifically we look at the utilisation of structures by colonising organisms, the effects of trawling exclusion, and changes to connectivity. We also consider these with the addition of other man made structures (shipwrecks and wind farms) and under a future climate scenario.

How to cite: Bedington, M., Lessin, G., James, M., and Somerfield, P.: Assessing ecosystem effects of changes to man​-made infrastructure in the ​North ​Sea, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-11984,, 2022.