The Baltic Sea as a time machine for the future coastal ocean

Thorsten B. H. Reusch*, Jan Dierking, Helen C. Andersson, Erik Bonsdorff, Jacob Carstensen, Michele Casini, Mikolaj Czajkowski, Berit Hasler, Klaus Hinsby, Kari Hyytiainen, Kerstin Johannesson, Seifeddine Jomaa, Veijo Jormalainen, Harri Kuosa, Sara Kurland, Linda Laikre, Brian R. MacKenzie, Piotr Margonski, Frank Melzner, Daniel OesterwindHenn Ojaveer, Jens Christian Refsgaard, Annica Sandstrom, Gerald Schwarz, Karin Tonderski, Monika Winder, Marianne Zandersen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Coastal global oceans are expected to undergo drastic changes driven by climate change and increasing anthropogenic pressures in coming decades. Predicting specific future conditions and assessing the best management strategies to maintain ecosystem integrity and sustainable resource use are difficult, because of multiple interacting pressures, uncertain projections, and a lack of test cases for management. We argue that the Baltic Sea can serve as a time machine to study consequences and mitigation of future coastal perturbations, due to its unique combination of an early history of multistressor disturbance and ecosystem deterioration and early implementation of cross-border environmental management to address these problems. The Baltic Sea also stands out in providing a strong scientific foundation and accessibility to long-term data series that provide a unique opportunity to assess the efficacy of management actions to address the breakdown of ecosystem functions. Trend reversals such as the return of top predators, recovering fish stocks, and reduced input of nutrient and harmful substances could be achieved only by implementing an international, cooperative governance structure transcending its complex multistate policy setting, with integrated management of watershed and sea. The Baltic Sea also demonstrates how rapidly progressing global pressures, particularly warming of Baltic waters and the surrounding catchment area, can offset the efficacy of current management approaches. This situation calls for management that is (i) conservative to provide a buffer against regionally unmanageable global perturbations, (ii) adaptive to react to new management challenges, and, ultimately, (iii) multisectorial and integrative to address conflicts associated with economic trade-offs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaar8195
JournalScience Advances
Volume4
Issue number5
ISSN2375-2548
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • MULTIDISCIPLINARY
  • GOBY NEOGOBIUS-MELANOSTOMUS
  • ECOLOGICAL REGIME SHIFTS
  • MARINE PROTECTED AREAS
  • DAB LIMANDA-LIMANDA
  • EAST CHINA SEA
  • CLIMATE-CHANGE
  • BLACK-SEA
  • TROPHIC CASCADES
  • WATER-QUALITY
  • ORGANOCHLORINE CONTAMINANTS
  • Atmospheric Properties
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Social Sciences
  • Catchments
  • Economic and social effects
  • Ecosystems
  • Environmental management
  • Anthropogenic pressures
  • Ecosystem functions
  • Governance structures
  • Harmful substances
  • Integrated management
  • Management strategies
  • Scientific foundations
  • Sustainable resource use
  • Climate change

Cite this

Reusch, T. B. H., Dierking, J., Andersson, H. C., Bonsdorff, E., Carstensen, J., Casini, M., Czajkowski, M., Hasler, B., Hinsby, K., Hyytiainen, K., Johannesson, K., Jomaa, S., Jormalainen, V., Kuosa, H., Kurland, S., Laikre, L., MacKenzie, B. R., Margonski, P., Melzner, F., ... Zandersen, M. (2018). The Baltic Sea as a time machine for the future coastal ocean. Science Advances, 4(5), [eaar8195]. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aar8195