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CR 48:31-55 (2011)  -  DOI:

Climate-related changes in marine ecosystems simulated with a 3-dimensional coupled physical‑biogeochemical model of the Baltic Sea

H. E. Markus Meier1,2,*, Kari Eilola1, Elin Almroth1

1Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Folksborgsvägen 1, 60176 Norrköping, Sweden
2Department of Meteorology, Arrhenius Laboratory, Svante Arrhenius väg 16C, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden

ABSTRACT: The combined effect of changing climate and changing nutrient loads from land due to altered land use, sewage water treatment and emissions was studied using a 3-dimensional high-resolution coupled physical-biogeochemical model for the Baltic Sea. Results suggest that global warming causes increased water temperatures and reduced sea ice cover, combined (eventually) with increased winter mean wind speeds and increased river runoff. The projected hydrographic changes could therefore have significant effects on the marine ecosystem. These changes may compete with nutrient load reductions—presently under discussion—that aim to improve the ecological status of the Baltic Sea. Targets that may be sufficient in the present climate might fail under future climate conditions. Using the model, we investigated 4 climate change scenarios and 3 nutrient load scenarios, ranging from a pessimistic ‘business as usual’ to the ‘most optimistic’ case (including the Baltic Sea Action Plan, BSAP). In addition, using cause-and-effect studies, we analyzed changing simulated nutrient cycles, oxygen concentrations, and phytoplankton concentrations. As model results for the northern part of the Baltic (Bothnian Bay and Bothnian Sea) are not reliable, we focus the analysis on the Baltic proper, including the Arkona, Bornholm and Gotland basins. The degree of nutrient reduction in nutrient-load reduction scenarios is likely to differ under a future climate, but actions of the BSAP will reduce phytoplankton concentrations also in the future climate. However, the sensitivity of non-linear responses to climate change depends on processes that are not well understood, with current understanding limited by modelling uncertainties (e.g. in the long-term functioning of Baltic Sea sediments as sources and sinks of nutrients).

KEY WORDS: Numerical modeling · Climate change · Eutrophication · Marine ecosystems · Scenarios · Baltic Sea Action Plan

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Cite this article as: Meier HEM, Eilola K, Almroth E (2011) Climate-related changes in marine ecosystems simulated with a 3-dimensional coupled physical‑biogeochemical model of the Baltic Sea. Clim Res 48:31-55.

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