Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-67
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-67

  19 Aug 2021

19 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Climate Change in the Baltic Sea Region: A Summary

H. E. Markus Meier1,2, Madline Kniebusch1, Christian Dieterich2,, Matthias Gröger1, Eduardo Zorita3, Ragnar Elmgren4, Kai Myrberg5,6, Markus Ahola7, Alena Bartosova2, Erik Bonsdorff8, Florian Börgel1, Rene Capell2, Ida Carlén9, Thomas Carlund10, Jacob Carstensen11, Ole B. Christensen12, Volker Dierschke13, Claudia Frauen1,14, Morten Frederiksen11, Elie Gaget15,16, Anders Galatius11, Jari J. Haapala17, Antti Halkka18, Gustaf Hugelius19, Birgit Hünicke3, Jaak Jaagus20, Mart Jüssi21, Jukka Käyhkö22, Nina Kirchner19, Erik Kjellström2, Karol Kulinski23, Andreas Lehmann24, Göran Lindström2, Wilhelm May25, Paul Miller25,26, Volker Mohrholz1, Bärbel Müller-Karulis27, Diego Pavón-Jordán28, Markus Quante28, Marcus Reckermann29, Anna Rutgersson30, Oleg P. Savchuk27, Martin Stendel12, Laura Tuomi17, Markku Viitasalo5, Ralf Weisse3, and Wenyan Zhang3 H. E. Markus Meier et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Oceanography and Instrumentation, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Rostock, Germany
  • 2Research and Development Department, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Sweden
  • 3Institute of Coastal Systems-Analysis and Modeling, Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Geesthacht, Germany
  • 4Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 5Marine Research Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, Finland
  • 6Marine Research Institute, University of Klaipeda, Lithuania
  • 7Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 8Environmental and Marine Biology, Åbo Akademi University, Finland
  • 9Coalition Clean Baltic, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 10Information and Statistics Department, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, Sweden
  • 11Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark
  • 12National Centre for Climate Research, Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 13Gavia EcoResearch, Winsen (Luhe), Germany
  • 14Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum, Hamburg, Germany
  • 15Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  • 16International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria
  • 17Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 18Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 19Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm
  • 20Department of Geography, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
  • 21Pro Mare, Estonia
  • 22Department of Geography and Geology, University of Turku, Finland
  • 23Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Gdansk, Poland
  • 24GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany
  • 25Centre for Environmental and Climate Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  • 26Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  • 27Baltic Sea Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 28Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), P.O. Box 5685 Torgarden, N-7485 Trondheim, Norway
  • 29International Baltic Earth Secretariat, Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Geesthacht, 21502, Germany
  • 30Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • deceased

Abstract. Based on the Baltic Earth Assessment Reports of this thematic issue in Earth System Dynamics and recent peer-reviewed literature, current knowledge about the effects of global warming on past and future changes in climate of the Baltic Sea region is summarized and assessed. The study is an update of the Second Assessment of Climate Change (BACC II) published in 2015 and focusses on the atmosphere, land, cryosphere, ocean, sediments and the terrestrial and marine biosphere. Based on the summaries of the recent knowledge gained in paleo-, historical and future regional climate research, we find that the main conclusions from earlier assessments remain still valid. However, new long-term, homogenous observational records, e.g. for Scandinavian glacier inventories, sea-level driven saltwater inflows, so-called Major Baltic Inflows, and phytoplankton species distribution and new scenario simulations with improved models, e.g. for glaciers, lake ice and marine food web, have become available. In many cases, uncertainties can now be better estimated than before, because more models can be included in the ensembles, especially for the Baltic Sea. With the help of coupled models, feedbacks between several components of the Earth System have been studied and multiple driver studies were performed, e.g. projections of the food web that include fisheries, eutrophication and climate change. New data sets and projections have led to a revised understanding of changes in some variables such as salinity. Furthermore, it has become evident that natural variability, in particular for the ocean on multidecadal time scales, is greater than previously estimated, challenging our ability to detect observed and projected changes in climate. In this context, the first paleoclimate simulations regionalized for the Baltic Sea region are instructive. Hence, estimated uncertainties for the projections of many variables increased. In addition to the well-known influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation, it was found that also other low-frequency modes of internal variability, such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability, have profound effects on the climate of the Baltic Sea region. Challenges were also identified, such as the systematic discrepancy between future cloudiness trends in global and regional models and the difficulty of confidently attributing large observed changes in marine ecosystems to climate change. Finally, we compare our results with other coastal sea assessments, such as the North Sea Region Climate Change Assessment (NOSCCA) and find that the effects of climate change on the Baltic Sea differ from those on the North Sea, since Baltic Sea oceanography and ecosystems are very different from other coastal seas such as the North Sea. While the North Sea dynamics is dominated by tides, the Baltic Sea is characterized by brackish water, a perennial vertical stratification in the southern sub-basins and a seasonal sea ice cover in the northern sub-basins.

H. E. Markus Meier et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-67', Jouni Räisänen, 13 Sep 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Markus Meier, 19 Nov 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2021-67', Donald Boesch, 25 Sep 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Markus Meier, 19 Nov 2021

H. E. Markus Meier et al.

H. E. Markus Meier et al.

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Short summary
Based on the Baltic Earth Assessment Reports of this thematic issue in Earth System Dynamics and recent peer-reviewed literature, current knowledge about the effects of global warming on past and future changes in climate of the Baltic Sea region is summarized and assessed. The study is an update of the Second Assessment of Climate Change (BACC II) published in 2015 and focusses on the atmosphere, land, cryosphere, ocean, sediments and the terrestrial and marine biosphere.
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