The Baltic Sea is a dynamic environment responding to various drivers operating at different temporal and spatial scales. In response to climate change, the Baltic Sea is warming and the frequency of extreme climatic events is increasing (Lima & Wethey 2012, BACC 2008, Poloczanska et al. 2007). Coastal development, human population growth and globalization intensify stressors associated with human activities, such as nutrient loading, fisheries and proliferation of invasive and bloom-forming species. Such abrupt changes have unforeseen consequences for the biodiversity and the function of food webs and may result in loss of ecological key species, alteration and fragmentation of habitats. To mitigate undesired effects on the Baltic ecosystem, an efficient marine management will depend on the understanding of historical and current drivers, i.e. physical and chemical environmental conditions and human activities that precipitate pressures on the natural environment.
This task examined a set of key interactions of selected natural and anthropogenic drivers in space and time, identified in Task 3.1 as well as WP1 and WP2 (e.g. physico-chemical features vs climate forcing; eutrophication vs oxygen deficiency vs bio-invasions; fisheries vs climate change impacts) by using overlay-mapping and sensitivity analyses. The benthic ecosystem models developed under Task 2.1 were used to investigate interactions between sea temperature and eutrophication for various depth strata in coastal (P9) and offshore areas (P1) of the Baltic Sea. This also included investigation on how the frequency and magnitude of deep-water inflow events determines volume and variance of salinity and temperature under the halocline, deep-water oxygen levels and sediment fluxes of nutrients, using observations and model results from 1850 to present (P1, P2, P6, P9, P12). The resulting synthesis on the nature and magnitude of different driver interactions will feed into all other tasks of this WP3 and WP2/WP4. Moreover, the results presented in this report
improve the process-based and mechanistic understanding of environmental change in the Baltic Sea ecosystem, thereby fostering the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.