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  • MAREMarine Research on Eutrophication

    A Scientific Base for Cost-Effective Measures for the Baltic Sea


    MAREMarine Research on Eutrophication

    A Scientific Base for Cost-Effective Measures for the Baltic Sea

    Further informationE-mail:

    Web site:

  • Text and editing: Ardea Milj

    English translation: Martin Naylor

    Graphic design: Hans Melcherson, Tryckfaktorn

    Illustrations: Himmel och hav by Sven Holm (front cover), Tove Jansson (p. 1), Anders Sjberg, Tiofoto (p. 4),Fredrik Wulff (pp. 9 and 11). Screenshots from the NEST program.

    Printing: Risbergs Uddevalla, 2002

    MISTRA is a foundation and as such must comply withthe Swedish Foundations Act. The relevant paragraph from the statutes

    states that the aim of MISTRA is to support research of strategic importance for agood living environment. The foundation shall promote the developmentof robust research environments of the highest international class that

    will have a positive impact on Swedens future competitiveness.The research shall play a significant role in solving major

    environmental problems and contribute to the development of asustainable society. The potential for achieving industrial

    applications shall be realised as far as possible.

    MISTRA distributes about SEK 250 million a year to environmental research.At the beginning of 2001, the foundations capital amounted to SEK 4.7 billion.

    MISTRA applies the same principles of transparency as thegovernment research councils.

    MISTRA funds and organises research aimed at solving strategicenvironmental problems.

    A MISTRA programme is considered a success when scientificallyadvanced research has been put to practical use in companies,

    authorities or other organisations.

    MISTRA funds about 20 major programmes, each of whichshould have a time span of between six and eight years.

    Major investment in interdisciplinary research programmesstimulates innovation, new options and new forms of cooperation,

    benefiting both Swedish environmental research asa whole and Sweden as a nation.

    The Government appoints MISTRAs board and its chairman.The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy

    of Engineering Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture andForestry constantly audit MISTRAs activities.

    The audit reports are published.

    MISTRASwedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research

    Gamla Brogatan 36-38SE- 111 20 Stockholm, Sweden

    Tel: +46- 8 791 10 20 Fax: +46- 8 791 10 29E-mail:

    Web site:

    ParticipantsWP 1: Ecological properties in relation to eutrophication

    Environmental and Marine Biology, Dept. of Biology, Prof. Erik Bonsdorff (, coordinatorbo Akademi University, Finland Cecilia Rnnberg, technical assistant (

    Kristineberg Marine Research Station, Prof. Rutger Rosenberg (, coordinatorGteborg University Karin Karlsson, Ph.D. student (

    WP 2: Physical and biogeochemical modellingDept. of Oceanography, Gteborg University Prof. Anders Stigebrandt (, coordinator

    Bjrn Sjberg, MSc. (, deputy coordinatorAssoc. Prof. Bo Gustafsson ( Green, Ph.D. student ( Gustavsson, Ph.D. student ( berg, Ph.D. student ( Nerheim, Ph.D. student ( Ahnlund, Ph.D. student (

    Dept. of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University Prof. Fredrik Wulff (, coordinatorOleg Savchuk, visiting researcher ( Christoph Humburg, postdoctoral fellow (

    WP 3: Nitrogen fixation in the Baltic SeaDept. of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University Prof. Ragnar Elmgren (, coordinator

    Assoc. Prof. Ulf Larsson ( Carl Rolff, postdoctoral fellow ( Crona, technical assistant (

    WP 4: Eutrophication and Baltic Sea sedimentsWater and Environmental Studies, Linkping University Dr sa Danielsson, postdoctoral fellow (, coordinator

    Prof. Lars Rahm (

    Analytical and Marine Chemistry, Gteborg University Prof. Per Hall ( Anders Tengberg, postdoctoral fellow (

    Dept. of Geology and Geochemistry, Stockholm University Assoc. Prof. Rolf Carman (

    WP 5: Eutrophication, fish and fisheries in the Baltic SeaDept. of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University Assoc. Prof. Sture Hansson (, coordinator

    Olle Hjerne, Ph.D. student ( Van Tassell, visiting student ( Harvey, visiting researcher

    WP 6: Costs of eutrophication abatement measuresDept. of Economics, Prof. Ing-Marie Gren (, coordinatorSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences Monica Campos, Ph.D. student (

    Katarina Elofsson, Ph.D. student ( Hart, Ph.D. student ( Zehaie, Ph.D. student (

    Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Henrik Scharin, Ph.D. student ( Lerda, Ph.D. student (

    WP 7: Development of a decision support systemDept. of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University Prof. Fredrik Wulff (, coordinator

    Alexander Sokolov, system developer/programmer ( Miguel Rodriguez-Medina, research engineer (

  • 1

    The test version is presented

    There are at least a thousand small pieces here, and no one can tell what itssupposed to be until you put it together. What fun it will be, dont you think?

    From Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson (1965)

    Most of this years annual report is devoted to a presen-tation of the test version of our decision support system.After two years of synthesis and development, we cannow describe the structure of the system and explain how it works. Some pieces of the jigsaw have still to beadded, but anyone wishing to do so is now welcome todownload and try out the system for themselves (see p. 2for further details). We have chosen to make the systemreadily available, but with the important proviso thatthose who use it accept that this is a test version and thatthe results are not yet to be used in real decision-makingsituations. Since it is often easierfor others to spot our shortcom-ings, we are grateful for any com-ments and suggestions that willhelp to improve the system andmake it more user-friendly. Mean-while, we will be continuing ourefforts to refine and check thesystem and update our data.

    One of the highlights of 2001was MAREs researcher trainingcourse. A brief account of the par-ticipants own impressions will befound on p. 11 of this report; forfurther details, readers are referred to our website. Forour own part, we can merely underline what the stu-dents themselves say: we, too, found the nine days of thecourse very intense and extremely interesting. It was in-spiring to see how the students sometimes palpable frus-tration at not being able to understand each others sub-jects gave way to constructive collaboration, providing abasis for the group projects and joint reports that con-cluded the course.

    Many of the key results of the various subpro-grammes, or work packages, are not explicitly presentedin this years report on MARE. A great many of themare of course already built into the decision support sys-tem, but we would like to mention that our biologistshave now completed a wide-ranging review of literaturefrom different countries concerning the consequences ofeutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Their work shows thatthe effects of elevated nutrient levels differ from one partof the sea to another, as a diagram posted on our websiteillustrates. Many of these more qualitative findings can-not be directly incorporated in the decision support sys-tem, but in 2002 we will be trying to link information ofthis kind to the system, in order to supplement the lat-ters quantitative calculations with a more qualitative de-

    scription of biological changes. Similarly, we will attemptto link the decision support system to the modelling thathas been done on how fisheries and food supplies affectcod, herring and sprat. These models for the dominantfish species of the Baltic describe the consequences ofdifferent fisheries management strategies, providing ahighly topical input to the current debate on fishingquotas in this sea area.

    Two of the work packages have sought to verify vari-ous assumptions that are made in the decision supportsystem. One has been concerned with estimating the

    quantities of nitrogen added tothe Baltic Sea as a result of nitro-gen fixation by cyanobacteria(blue-green algae), while the otherhas studied nutrient cycling inbenthic sediments. During 2001,as part of an EU-funded researchproject with participants from sev-eral Baltic Sea countries, measure-ments have been made of nitro-gen fixation in the open sea. Thishas furnished us with a greatlyimproved knowledge base fromwhich to draw data for incorpora-

    tion in the system in 2002. Considerable effort has alsobeen put into developing a map of sediment characteris-tics, covering the entire Baltic Sea, which provides neces-sary background information for large-scale estimates ofnutrient cycling in sediments. A few initial estimates ofnutrient cycling have been made, and this work will con-tinue in the coming year.

    A major challenge in our work on a decision supportsystem has been to integrate our physical/biogeochem-ical and our economic models. The next step will be toreplace the existing static models with dynamic ones.The latter take into account the time lag between aspecific measure and the emergence of its effects in themarine environment, and also the consequences of thisdelay for our economic calculations.

    SIF JOHANSSON FREDRIK WULFF Programme Director Scientific Coordinator

  • 2

    Decision support system taking shape prototype ready for testing

    The aim of the MARE programme is to develop a computer-based decision support system for

    the people whose job it is to decide what action should be taken and hence how much it will cost

    to reduce inputs of nutrients to the Baltic Sea. By feeding various data into this computer program,

    which performs calculations on the basis of a wide range of information held in large databases,

    users will be able to establish what measures and combinations of measures are most cost-effective for

    a particular area of the Baltic Sea and who (i.e. which countries or sectors of society) should do

    what in order to achieve optimum results. The models calculations will give users a clear picture of

    the potential impacts of different types of action and of how the costs could be shared in

    order to secure the best possible outcome at the lowest possible cost.

    The model shows how measures, effects and costs are interrelated, but it does not provide the decision

    maker with ready-made solutions. Users will still have to balance all the relevant considerations before reaching

    a decision. It will be up to them to decide what is socially and politically feasible, at the national level and

    in collaboration with other countries in the Baltic Sea drainage basin, and whether costs and responsibilities

    can in practice be shared in what the model may indicate to be overall the most cost-effective way.

    A practicable, data-rich and reliable decision supportsystem provides hard facts in support of political andadministrative decision making. In an ideal system, wecan define the state of the environment we wish toachieve in coastal waters and open sea areas, and thenfind out what it will cost to bring this state about andhow, from an objective point of view, the burden can beshared most cost-effectively between different regions,countries and sectors of society. By pointing to differentways of attaining the goals agreed by the countries of theregion (for example in the HELCOM context), and ofimplementing the EUs Water Framework Directive (na-tionally and with regard to transboundary water bodies),the decision support system developed within MAREcould in conjunction with several other tools providevaluable assistance to the decision makers concerned.

    NEST available for testing and feedbackAfter two years of research within the different workpackages of MARE, the task of synthesis linking to-gether the results has now begun in earnest. Apartfrom the data from the work packages that have beenused directly to develop the various components of themodel, important information on nitrogen fixation andthe role of sediments in nutrient cycling, among otherthings, has been used to verify the submodels.

    A prototype of the planned decision support systemhas been constructed and can now be used as the firstreal working version, to test how the links and compon-ents of the model work. Anyone wishing to do so candownload the model, which is referred to as NEST, and

    try it out on their own computer. Since the model is con-stantly being developed, users will automatically gain ac-cess to the latest version when they open the program.

    Potential users who put NEST through its paces in itspresent shape need to be aware that this a preliminarytest version and that there is still quite a lot of work tobe done before the model can be regarded as fully devel-oped. However, the researchers involved in MARE havedecided to make this first version of NEST readily avail-able to anyone who is interested, in the hope that manyof those who test it will take the opportunity to makecomments and suggestions and help to make the systemeven better in terms of both content and user-friendli-ness. Active collaboration with different groups in coun-tries around the Baltic is essential if the best availableregional data and model formulations are to be incorpor-ated in several of the models components.

    Now that the prototype is ready, therefore, theMARE team will be continuing their constructive dia-logue with regional, national and international users inthe environmental sphere. In addition, they are hopingfor useful feedback, in the form of comments and sug-gestions for improvements to the system, from fellowresearchers at institutes and universities in the countriesaround the Baltic. It is also essential to find out whetherdecision makers and experts at ministries and othernational and regional agencies in the littoral states theindividuals actively involved in efforts to reduce nutrient

  • 3

    inputs to the different basins of the Baltic from therelevant sectors consider this a workable system, or whether it will need to be substantially modifi...


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