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ABSTRACT

Using calculations based on the marine carbon system and on modelling, the sensitivity of Baltic Sea surface pH was examined. Transient long-term calculations demonstrated that the marine carbon system adjusts to lateral boundary conditions within some decades, as does salinity. Climate changes in temperature or salinity will only marginally affect the acid–base (pH) balance. Wetter or dryer climate will also play a minor role in the pH balance. The direct effect on seawater pH of acid precipitation over the Baltic Sea surface was demonstrated to be small. Acidification due to river transport of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) into the marine system seems marginal although mineralization of terrestrial DOC may cause extra marine acidification, but the effect has yet to be quantified. Increased nutrient load may increase the amplitude in the pH seasonal cycle and increase the acidification during winter time. Fossil fuel burning is likely to have both a direct and indirect effect through increased CO2 levels, altering seawater pH as well as changing the river chemistry. This may severely threaten some species in the Baltic Sea, particularly in the Northern Baltic.