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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2018-16
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Research article 29 Mar 2018

Research article | 29 Mar 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD). The revised manuscript was not accepted.

Uncertainties in projections of the Baltic Sea ecosystem driven by an ensemble of global climate models

Sofia Saraiva1,3, H. E. Markus Meier2,3, Helén Andersson3, Anders Höglund3, Christian Dieterich3, Robinson Hordoir3, and Kari Eilola3 Sofia Saraiva et al.
  • 1University of Lisbon, Instituto Superior Técnico, Environment and Energy Section, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2Department of Physical Oceanography and Instrumentation, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, 18119 Rostock, Germany
  • 3Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, 60176 Norrköping, Sweden

Abstract. Many coastal seas worldwide are affected by human impacts such as eutrophication, causing, inter alia, oxygen depletion and extensive areas of hypoxia. Depending on the region, global warming may reinforce these environmental changes by reducing air–sea oxygen fluxes, intensifying internal nutrient cycling and increasing river-borne nutrient loads. The development of appropriate management plans to more effectively protect the marine environment requires projections of future marine ecosystem states. However, projections with regional climate models commonly suffer from shortcomings in the driving global General Circulation Models (GCMs). The differing sensitivities of GCMs to increased greenhouse gas emissions impact regional projections considerably. In this study, we focused on one of the most threatened coastal seas, the Baltic Sea, and estimated uncertainties in projections due to GCM deficiencies relative to uncertainties caused by future greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient load scenarios. To address the latter, transient simulations of the period 1975–2098 were performed using the initial conditions from an earlier reconstruction with the same Baltic Sea model (starting in 1850). To estimate the impacts of GCM deficiencies, dynamical downscaling experiments with four driving global models were carried out for two greenhouse gas emission scenarios, RCP4.5 and 8.5, and for three nutrient load scenarios covering the plausible range between low and high loads. The results of primary production, nitrogen fixation, and hypoxic areas show that uncertainties caused by the various nutrient load scenarios are greater than the uncertainties due to global model deficiencies and future greenhouse gas emissions. In all scenario simulations, a proposed nutrient load abatement strategy, i.e., the Baltic Sea Action Plan, will lead to a significant improvement in the overall environmental state. However, the projections cannot provide detailed information on the timing and the reductions of future hypoxic areas due to uncertainties in salinity projections caused by uncertainties in projections of the regional water cycle and of the global mean sea level rise.

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Sofia Saraiva et al.
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Short summary
Uncertainties are estimated in Baltic Sea climate projections by performing scenarios combining 4 Global Climate Models, 2 future gas emissions (RCP4.5, RCP8.5) and 3 nutrient load scenarios. Results on primary production, nitrogen fixation, and hypoxic areas show that uncertainties caused by the nutrients loads are greater than uncertainties due to GCMs and RCPs. In all scenarios, nutrient load abatement strategy, Baltic Sea Action Plan, will lead to an improvement in the environmental state.
Uncertainties are estimated in Baltic Sea climate projections by performing scenarios combining...
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