New research has found that if no action is taken, the Baltic Sea will be warmer and less salty than at any time since 1850, by the end of the 21st century.
Researchers from countries around the Baltic Sea have collaborated to study the effects of climate change on the local marine environment by combining many different models.
“There are plenty of studies showing the environmental impact of individual factors, or models showing global changes in the climate, but this is the first time that anyone has taken a detailed look at how these factors combine to affect a specific region. This makes this project unique,” explained Jonathan Havenhand from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.
The researchers were able to tell exactly how well the models worked by comparing the models’ predictions with what actually happened between 1850 and 2006. After determining that the models were reasonably accurate, they used them to predict what will happen between now and 2098 in the Baltic Sea.
- salt content will fall, potentially creating a decrease in biodiversity
- temperature will rise, causing oxygen content to fall
Havenhand explains why there will be a decrease in biodiversity: “One such example is the blue mussel, which cannot survive if the salt content is lower than it is at present in the Northern Baltic Sea. It feeds on algae and purifies large volumes of water. This makes it an important species. We can also expect cod stocks to fall, even if we restrict fishing, as the oxygen content, temperature and salt content will change so much that reproduction will become difficult.”
The researchers note that it’s not too late. If action is taken now and policies are enacted to protect the Baltic Sea, then it is possible to counteract the effects of climate change in the area.
To learn more:
- Read the full press release: Climate change threatens marine environment in the Baltic Sea
- Find the results, published in Environmental Research Letters, here: Comparing reconstructed past variations and future projections of the Baltic Sea ecosystem—first results from multi-model ensemble simulations
Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.