, Volume 39, Issue 9-10, pp 2421-2441,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 21 Apr 2012

Modeling the combined impact of changing climate and changing nutrient loads on the Baltic Sea environment in an ensemble of transient simulations for 1961–2099


The combined future impacts of climate change and industrial and agricultural practices in the Baltic Sea catchment on the Baltic Sea ecosystem were assessed. For this purpose 16 transient simulations for 1961–2099 using a coupled physical-biogeochemical model of the Baltic Sea were performed. Four climate scenarios were combined with four nutrient load scenarios ranging from a pessimistic business-as-usual to a more optimistic case following the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP). Annual and seasonal mean changes of climate parameters and ecological quality indicators describing the environmental status of the Baltic Sea like bottom oxygen, nutrient and phytoplankton concentrations and Secchi depths were studied. Assuming present-day nutrient concentrations in the rivers, nutrient loads from land increase during the twenty first century in all investigated scenario simulations due to increased volume flows caused by increased net precipitation in the Baltic catchment area. In addition, remineralization rates increase due to increased water temperatures causing enhanced nutrient flows from the sediments. Cause-and-effect studies suggest that both processes may play an important role for the biogeochemistry of eutrophicated seas in future climate partly counteracting nutrient load reduction efforts like the BSAP.