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 Hyytiäinen, Kerstin Johannesson, Seifeddine Jomaa, Veijo Jormalainen, Harri Kuosa, Sara Kurland, Linda Laikre, Brian R. MacKenzie, Piotr Margonski, Frank Melzner, Daniel OesterwindHenn Ojaveer, Jens C. Refsgaard, Annica Sandström, Gerald Schwarz, Karin Tonderski, Monika Winder, Marianne Zandersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

227 Citations (Scopus)

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 crossborder 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 newmanagement challenges, and, ultimately, (iii) multisectorial and integrative to address conflicts associated with economic trade-offs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaar8195
Number of pages16
JournalScience advances
Volume4
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2018

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources

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