The researchers' almost century-long sea temperature data and its mean values reveal where the Baltic Sea is heading, while also showing that the temperature has always shifted in colder and warmer periods.
What is different now is that the changes are happening so quickly that the species of the sea do not have time to adapt to the new living conditions. The Baltic Sea is one of the fastest warming oceans in the northern hemisphere.
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University of Helsinki's and Stockholm University's new interdisciplinary research center CoastClim focuses on research on coastal ecosystems and climate change. The center brings together experts in marine ecology, biogeochemistry and atmospheric research for the first time in history in the Baltic Sea region.
We do not know the importance of the oceans in the climate puzzle to the same extent as, for example, the importance of forests. CoastClim produces the new type of research needed to clarify the role that coastal ecosystems and biodiversity play in climate change.
"90 percent of the heat caused by the greenhouse gases emitted by humans has been absorbed by the world's oceans. Without that help, we would have already been cooked on land, so to speak." Professor Alf Norkko
Alf Norkko reminds that eutrophication is still the biggest problem in the Baltic Sea, but sees that it has become increasingly important to map the links between eutrophication and climate change and their effects on marine biodiversity.
- We can not understand and deal with the eutrophication problem without taking into account the effects of a warmer climate on the marine ecosystems. One exacerbates the other, so the two phenomena can not be studied in isolation.
For a long time, the oceans have been efficient carbon sinks that have absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, the direction can change. If important key species disappear at the same time as the seabed's organic material produces greater emissions due to eutrophication, the Baltic Sea can go from being a carbon sink to a carbon source.
The role of basic research in the work for a healthier sea is crucial. University of Helsinki is Finland's largest multidisciplinary center for Baltic Sea research. The university's research station in Tvärminne in Hanko is looking for answers to how the Baltic Sea ecosystem is affected by eutrophication and climate change and functions as the home base for CoastClim in Finland.