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2nd Baltic Earth Conference
The Baltic Sea Region in Transition
Helsingor, Denmark
11 - 15 June 2018



Article from Baltic Earth Newsletter 3 (June 2017):


Wellbeing from the Baltic Sea – applications combining natural science and economics

by Kari Hyytiäinen, University of Helsinki (kari.hyytiainen@helsinki.fi)

The state of the Baltic Sea serves as an excellent example of a regional environmental problem that can be efficiently controlled by regional mitigation efforts, but which is heavily affected by global developments and megatrends. Such developments include changing climate, urbanization, technological progress and evolution of life styles and consumption patterns.

Climate research community has developed a set of Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) and Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) that describe a wide range of global climate and socioeconomic outcomes. Combinations of SSPs and RCPs can be associated with technological, socioeconomic, and policy futures that lead to a particular atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration pathway and magnitude of climate change. Downscaled at smaller spatial scales and extending until the end of the ongoing century, such pathways serve also as tools to evaluate the impacts of global developments on regional economies, societies and ecosystems.

How serious challenges may changing climate and changing society provide to marine protection of the Baltic Sea environment? What are the prospects for reaching the Good Environmental Status (GES) in the Baltic Sea under alternative climate and socioeconomic futures? What opportunities would ‘citizen science’ provide to marine research and management? These are types of questions studied by the BONUS BALTICAPP project.

In order to explore the future prospects of protecting marine ecosystems, one needs to establish a causal relationship between the society and environment. We study both of how the extractive and polluting uses of the marine environment affect the aquatic ecosystem, and how the changes in the ecosystem health and performance affect citizens’ opportunities to enjoy from recreation and other marine ecosystems services.

Many of the tools needed for such analysis have been developed by earlier resdevelopment of concrete dearch projects and networks. BONUS ECOSUPPORT developed spatially and temporally detailed marine models to study the impacts of changing climate on the marine environment. BalticSTERN research network developed the tools for the cost-benefit analysis of nutrient abatement. BONUS RECOCA project estimated cost function for load reductions. BONUS BALTICAPP combines existing models and data, fills in the remaining data gaps, and attempts at establishing explicit links between the most important modelling elements.

Figure 1. Causal chain of interactions: from the global drivers of polluting and extractive uses of the marine environment to the societal impacts

Such work involves several steps (see Figure 1). The first task is to downscale global climate scenarios at relevant temporal and spatial scales both in the drainage basin and the marine environment. A parallel first task is to extend the shared socioeconomic pathway narratives at the Baltic Sea region. The combined climate and socioeconomic impacts are translated as trajectories of pressures. The second step is to use the projections of drivers and pressures as inputs of the biogeochemical model. The outcomes from biogeochemical model are again used as inputs to food web model. Thereafter the projected biogeochemical fluxes and effects to the marine flora and fauna are interpreted in terms of indicators that reflect changes in the provisioning and cultural ecosystem services. Finally, the changes in the indicators are described in monetary terms when relevant, and with quantitative or qualitative descriptors otherwise.

Another major objective of the BONUS BALTICAPP project is to develop and pilot a citizen science based mobile application. Citizen science is a field where volunteers collect and process data as part of a scientific enquiry. Our aim is to create an online platforms that both serves the general public and, at the same time, collects data on the use of cultural ecosystem services and recreation hotspots. We hope that such dialogue between citizens and scientists could help us to better understand the contribution of the Baltic Sea on human wellbeing.

For inquiries about this research, please directly refer to the authors.

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Last update of this page: 23 June 2017