Advanced modelling tool for scenarios of the Baltic Sea ecosystem to support decision making (ECOSUPPORT) (38733)

Project Details


The Baltic Sea is subject to several major human impacts, and three of the most important are fishing, eutrophication and climate change. Understanding and projecting how these impacts will affect the food web and its fish populations in future is therefore challenging, and requires modelling approaches which include climatic-hydrographic forcing, nutrient loading scenarios and likely fishing intensities.

ECOSUPPORT was a project whose objective was to develop an advanced modelling tool for conducting scenario simulations of how these human impacts affect the marine ecosystem and fish populations. The project coupled several different types of models so that end-to-end ecosystem models were developed which to understand how human impacts could influence the Baltic food web and fish populations. The models to be linked included regional climate models, oceanographic-lower trophic level ecosystem models (Nutrient-Phytoplankton-Zooplankton-Detritus) and fish population models. Key project results included new scenario simulations how regionally downscaled global climate model outputs would affect the development of Baltic cod populations under scenarios of climate change and seal (predator) population growth, and under different combinations of eutrophication, exploitation and climate change. These simulations included all key elements of the foodweb via an Ecopath model which included competitive and predatory interactions between the major fish species in the Baltic.

The results demonstrated the vulnerability of the cod population to successful implementation of key ecosystem management policies for the Baltic Sea, including those related to exploitation and nutrient loading. Additional model scenarios focused on the sprat population which is a key intermediary link in the Baltic foodweb as prey and predator for cod and of zooplankton. These scenarios illustrated the range of future biomass and yields under assumed ranges of climate change and natural mortality.

One of the major novelties of the project was the availability of 3 different NPZD models, which enable estimation of output uncertainties to different model parameterizations and assumptions in the lower trophic levels and physical oceanographic processes, and to compare these with uncertainties due to fish population dynamics (e. g., recruitment variability). These comparisons suggest that the biological uncertainty associated with fish population dynamics was larger than that associated with the choice of the oceanographic NPZD model.

Partners in the project are the above mentioned and five other marine research institutes around the Baltic Sea.

The project is coordinated by Swedish Meteorological and Hydrographic Institute, Sweden and funded by EU, BONUS (Science for a Better Future of the Baltic Sea Region), ERA-NET.

Research area: Oceanography
Research area: Marine Populations and Ecosystem Dynamics
Research area: Ecosystem based Marine Management
Effective start/end date01/01/200931/12/2011