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Paul Miller. Photo.

Paul Miller

Senior lecturer

Paul Miller. Photo.

Climate change in the Baltic Sea region : A summary


  • H. E. Markus Meier
  • Madline Kniebusch
  • Christian Dieterich
  • Matthias Gröger
  • Eduardo Zorita
  • Ragnar Elmgren
  • Kai Myrberg
  • Markus P. Ahola
  • Alena Bartosova
  • Erik Bonsdorff
  • Florian Börgel
  • Rene Capell
  • Ida Carlén
  • Thomas Carlund
  • Jacob Carstensen
  • Ole B. Christensen
  • Volker Dierschke
  • Claudia Frauen
  • Morten Frederiksen
  • Elie Gaget
  • Anders Galatius
  • Jari J. Haapala
  • Antti Halkka
  • Gustaf Hugelius
  • Birgit Hünicke
  • Jaak Jaagus
  • Mart Jüssi
  • Jukka Käyhkö
  • Nina Kirchner
  • Erik Kjellström
  • Karol Kulinski
  • Andreas Lehmann
  • Göran Lindström
  • Wilhelm May
  • Paul A. Miller
  • Volker Mohrholz
  • Bärbel Müller-Karulis
  • Diego Pavón-Jordán
  • Markus Quante
  • Marcus Reckermann
  • Anna Rutgersson
  • Oleg P. Savchuk
  • Martin Stendel
  • Laura Tuomi
  • Markku Viitasalo
  • Ralf Weisse
  • Wenyan Zhang

Summary, in English

Based on the Baltic Earth Assessment Reports of this thematic issue in Earth System Dynamics and recent peer-reviewed literature, current knowledge of the effects of global warming on past and future changes in climate of the Baltic Sea region is summarised and assessed. The study is an update of the Second Assessment of Climate Change (BACC II) published in 2015 and focuses on the atmosphere, land, cryosphere, ocean, sediments, and the terrestrial and marine biosphere. Based on the summaries of the recent knowledge gained in palaeo-, historical, and future regional climate research, we find that the main conclusions from earlier assessments still remain valid. However, new long-term, homogenous observational records, for example, 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, for example, 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 were 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 datasets 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 timescales, is greater than previously estimated, challenging our ability to detect observed and projected changes in climate. In this context, the first palaeoclimate simulations regionalised 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 are dominated by tides, the Baltic Sea is characterised by brackish water, a perennial vertical stratification in the southern subbasins, and a seasonal sea ice cover in the northern subbasins.


  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • MERGE: ModElling the Regional and Global Earth system
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • eSSENCE: The e-Science Collaboration

Publishing year







Earth System Dynamics





Document type

Journal article review


Copernicus GmbH


  • Climate Research




  • ISSN: 2190-4979