The Nordic seas: 1, Baltic Sea; 2, North Sea; 3, Greenland Sea; 4, Norwegian Sea; 5, Barents Sea. Mean surface salinity 1980-present. Salinity gradients are projected to become steeper in future, making these seas more sensitive to environmental change.

Connecting the Seas of Norden

Tuesday 10 Feb 15
by Line Reeh


Stefan Neuenfeldt
Senior Researcher
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 02

Artiklen i Nature Climate Change

Paasche, Ø., Österblom, H., Neuenfeldt, S., Bonsdorff, E., Brander, K., Conley, D.J., Durant, J.M., Eikeset, A.M., Goksøyr, A., Jónsson, S., Kjesbu, S.O., Kuparinen, A. and Stenseth, N.C.             (2015).
Connecting the Seas of Norden.
Nature Climate Change 5, 89–92 (2015) 

Nordic marine researchers push for increased collaboration across disciplines to handle growing pressure on the oceans.

In a commentary published in Nature Climate Change, 28 January 2015, Dr. Stefan Neufeldt of the Centre for Ocean Life, DTU Aqua together with a group of 12 fellow scientists argue that the Nordic countries are in a unique position to showcase how to handle the growing pressure on the oceans.

The Nordic Seas are among the most sensitive to environmental change on Earth. This suggest that the high latitude regions are in for a hefty roller-coaster ride in the years to come with increased temperatures, changed wind patterns, more acidic water and retreating sea ice.

Ever-growing human presence

But not only climate matters; complex interplay due to an ever-growing human presence also emerges.

"What we’re just beginning to realize is the sheer level of complexity that arises from the fact that change is taking place at all levels in the oceans," says Øyvind Paasche, first author of the commentary and leader of the Bergen Marine Research Cluster.

"During the last decades it is mainly changes in temperature and sea ice that have made headlines, but the ecosystems themselves are also changing, which is of utmost importance," he adds.

Another aspect, which recently has gained global attention, is the potential for industrial expansion in the Nordic Seas, which can represent a boom for many coastal societies. Tourism, oil and gas, aquaculture, and shipping are all major players that already are expanding in this region.

"we continue adding pressure to systems that are close to the breaking point, or will be in a short time, the consequences will be long-lasting and far-reaching," says Henrik Österblom.

All is connectedt

The authors stress that the Nordic seas needs to be understood as connected, and not treated as separate compartments.

"The Ocean is always in motion and the level of interdependency is much higher than what one might think,” says" Dr. Stefan Neufeldt of the Centre for Ocean Life, DTU Aqua.

"We are now in the process of creating an analytical framework that can make sense of a multi-stressed ocean," says Professor Nils Christian Stenseth, the chair of NorMER and one of the co-authors, "but we’re only at the beginning, and unless the Nordic Countries enhance collaboration within this field, our understanding will continue to lag behind the change we already observe, which is in no one’s interest."

The comment conclude that policy makers must not only be informed, but be informed by state-of-the-art insights, and that can only be accomplished by acknowledging that the Seas of Norden are connected:

"Now is the time to move from global attempts to study the Earth System from disconnected natural and social science perspectives to focus on integrated social–ecological science at the regional level. It is time to move away from an emphasis on problems as identified by narrow sector-specific scientists, and increasingly work across disciplinary boundaries to understand possible ways to address challenge."