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

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2018Researchpeer-review



  • Author: Reusch, Thorsten B.H.

    Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany

  • Author: Dierking, Jan

    Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany

  • Author: Andersson, Helén C

    Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Sweden

  • Author: Bonsdorff, Erik

    Åbo Akademi University, Finland

  • Author: Carstensen, Jacob

    Aarhus University, Denmark

  • Author: Casini, Michele

    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

  • Author: Czajkowski, Mikolaj

    University of Warsaw, Poland

  • Author: Hasler, Berit

    Aarhus University, Denmark

  • Author: Hinsby, Klaus

    Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Denmark

  • Author: Hyytiainen, Kari

    Helsinki University of Tehcnology, Finland

  • Author: Johannesson, Kerstin

    University of Gothenburg, Sweden

  • Author: Jomaa, Seifeddine

    Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany

  • Author: Jormalainen, Veijo

    University of Turku, Finland

  • Author: Kuosa, Harri

    Finnish Environment Institute, Finland

  • Author: Kurland, Sara

    Stockholm University, Sweden

  • Author: Laikre, Linda

    Stockholm University, Sweden

  • Author: MacKenzie, Brian R.

    Technical University of Denmark

    Section for Oceans and Arctic, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Kemitorvet, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Margonski, Piotr

    National Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Poland

  • Author: Melzner, Frank

    Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany

  • Author: Oesterwind, Daniel

    Thunen-Institut, Germany

  • Author: Ojaveer, Henn

    University of Tartu, Estonia

  • Author: Refsgaard, Jens Christian

    Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Denmark

  • Author: Sandstrom, Annica

    Luleå University of Technology, Sweden

  • Author: Schwarz, Gerald

    Thunen-Institut, Germany

  • Author: Tonderski, Karin

    Linköping University, Sweden

  • Author: Winder, Monika

    Stockholm University, Sweden

  • Author: Zandersen, Marianne

    Aarhus University, Denmark

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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
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • 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
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ID: 149113433