Causes and consequences of acidification in the Baltic Sea: implications for monitoring and management

Increasing atmospheric CO2 drives ocean acidification globally. In coastal seas, acidification trends can however be either counteracted or enhanced by other processes. Ecosystem effects of acidification are so far small in the Baltic Sea, but changes should be anticipated unless CO2 emissions are curbed. Possible future acidification trends in the Baltic Sea, conditional on CO2 emissions, climate change, and changes in productivity, can be assessed by means of model simulations. There are uncertainties regarding potential consequences for marine organisms, partly because of difficulties to assign critical thresholds, but also because of knowledge gaps regarding species’ capacity to adapt. Increased temporal and spatial monitoring of inorganic carbon system parameters would allow a better understanding of current acidification trends and also improve the capacity to predict possible future changes. An additional benefit is that such measurements also provide quantitative estimates of productivity. The technology required for precise measurements of the inorganic carbon system is readily available today. Regularly updated status evaluations of acidification, and the inorganic carbon system in general, would support management when assessing climate change effects, eutrophication or characteristics of the pelagic habitats. This would, however, have to be based on a spatially and temporally sufficient monitoring program.

Gustafsson E., Carstensen J., Fleming V., Gustafsson B. G., Hoikkala L. & Rehderet G., 2023. Causes and consequences of acidification in the Baltic Sea: implications for monitoring and management. Scientific Reports 13: 16322. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-43596-8. Article.

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