Nature Climate Change article: Connecting the Seas of Norden

Connecting Seas of Norden 
Citation : Nature Climate Change 5, 89–92 (2015), doi:10.1038/nclimate2471 Published online: 28 January 2015

Edited extract from beginning of excellent article

The Nordic Seas are highly sensitive to environmental change and have been extensively monitored and studied across a broad range of marine disciplines. For these reasons, the Nordic seas may serve as a pilot area for integrated policy development in response to ongoing climate change. The northern high-latitude seas and their coastal waters are among the most sensitive to climate change on Earth. Salinity, temperature and oxygen gradients will become steeper, wind patterns will shift, and the rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 will continue to acidify the ocean. The critical question — not only for scientists across all disciplines, but also for policymakers and society in general — is how the combination of all these stressors will impact the interdependent ecosystems as well as the social systems within this region.

Figure 1: The seas of Norden represent widely different water masses that are now undergoing far-reaching changes. Large salinity gradients can be observed both in an east–west and north–south direction. The seas of Norden are currently becoming fresher due to changes in inflow from the Atlantic Ocean13, but also due to increased run-off, especially in the Arctic Ocean. Many predictions suggest a continued freshening and warming of surface waters in this region, which are changing the physical preconditions for key ecosystems. Note that the Baltic Sea has water masses with salinity that goes down below 5‰. 1, Baltic Sea; 2, North Sea; 3, Greenland Sea; 4, Norwegian Sea; 5, Barents Sea. Salinity data comes from the Norwegian Iceland Seas Experiment (NISE)14 and the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES)15. See ref. 13 for an in-depth explanation of salinity changes. Figure courtesy of Kjetil Våge, University of Bergen.

The seas of Norden represent widely different water masses that are now undergoing far-reaching changes.