Wind turbines in the North Sea:

Impact on ecology

Challenge Video


Focusing on mitigating negative environmental impacts and exploring potential beneficial effects of offshore wind farms to the ecology of the North Sea. We are looking for innovative approaches to quantitatively analyse how these wind farms influence the marine environment, utilising remote sensing technologies. Understanding the impact better, will help us anticipate changes, possibly even find ways to make it work to our advantage.

Blog Post Challenge

On a quiet morning, you take a relaxing walk along the coast. A cool breeze flows through your hair as you gaze out over the North Sea, while enjoying the beautiful view of the expansive landscape. Suddenly, something catches your eye in the distance: an expansive wind turbine park, with its blades powerfully sweeping through the air. The contrast between these man made machines and the fragile natural scenery brings a disturbing thought to mind: what impact do these structures have on the delicate life in the North Sea?


Despite the progress that the construction of offshore wind farms has made in the field of sustainable energy, these parks have unintentionally placed a heavy burden on the fragile ecosystem of the North Sea. To better understand how these wind turbine parks affect the environment, it is important to map the impact of wind farms on the abiotic parameters of the North Sea. Abiotic parameters are measurable, non-living factors of the environment that influence how organisms live and grow in a particular ecosystem. For the North Sea, the most important abiotic parameters that determine the ecology of this area are sea surface temperature, light penetration, currents, seabed structure, and waves.


Traditional methods for measuring abiotic parameters, such as field measurements, are often limited in scope and cost prohibitive in a harsh environment like the North Sea. Here, the use of satellite data offers a solution. Remote sensing via satellites, for example, can help in observing changes in wave motion, current patterns, and the formation of sea mist. This information is not only useful for understanding the effects on the North Sea’s ecology but also for the navigation of ships. Remote sensing can for example also help to establish changes in light penetration and mixing of layers of water, which have important effects for sea life.


During the Geo-Data Fusion Hackathon, hackers are challenged to use satellite data to think about how changes in the abiotic parameters of the ecology of the North Sea can be detected. The challenge lies particularly in processing the enormous amount of data and satellite images to measure changes, requiring the development of complex analytical methods and algorithms. Moreover, field data, although limited in scope and location, provide detailed information about specific areas, helping to refine and verify the results obtained from satellite observations. By combining these data and by bringing together people with diverse backgrounds at the Geo-Data Fusion Hackathon, it becomes possible to develop tools that scientists and policymakers at Rijkswaterstaat and the Ministry Infrastructure and Waterstaat can use to make better decisions about the management of wind turbine parks in the North Sea.


Are you ready to take on the challenge and use your skills for a better world? By participating in our hackathon, you can help Rijkswaterstaat and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Watermanagement develop innovative solutions that protect the valuable environment of the North Sea. Sign up now for the Geo-Data Fusion hackathon and help shape the future!


Emile Nieuwstraten Nieuwstraten
Emile Nieuwstraten Nieuwstraten
Advisor for Remote Sensing & Satellite Data
Rinus Schroevers Schroevers
Rinus Schroevers Schroevers
Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management
Consultant and Project Manager

Challenge Owner: Rijkswaterstaat

This challenge is offered and supported by the governmental organisation for Water Management (RWS)