Marine environmental research

The marine environment is affected by eutrophication, climate change and changes in the ecosystem, such as introduction of new species. Increased knowledge on the response of the sea to environmental changes is important within the work towards a healthy and sustainable marine environment.

The group deals with research questions on long time scales such as the effects of climate change and eutrophication in the ocean. We also study short term processes in the sea. Our aim is to improve our knowledge on the system dynamics and thus understand the rapid changes that lead to e.g. changes in the ecosystem, oxygen depletion, algal blooms, ocean acidification or changes in biodiversity. Our tools include analysis of long time series data, physical and biogeochemical models used to simulate main processes controlling variables such as temperature, salinity, currents, nutrients and phytoplankton in the ocean. The combination of different modelling tools and observational data, including monitoring data and satellite observations enables a robust approach to answer the challenging questions.

We aslo work with observing and forecasting harmful algal blooms to protect human health and helping aquaculture, desalination plants and tourism to avoid or minimize problems. By combining observations from research vessels, autonomous platforms such as ocean gliders, ships of opportunity (Ferrybox) with satellite remote sensing, the current situation can be described. By combining observations with models of ocean currents, forecasts are developed that can be used for harmful algae warnings.

Modelling approach for biogeochemistry

We are using, and continuously developing, SMHI's biogeochemical model SCOBI, which is currently coupled to our three-dimensional physical ocean model NEMO (NEMO-Nordic configuration for the Baltic Sea and North Sea) and is also part of the Swedish coastal zone model (SCM). For global ocean modelling, we use the biogeochemical model PISCES coupled to a global NEMO model (global configuration). Model development requires a continuous update on processes descriptions, new technological tools and new knowledge.   

To understand the climate and human impacts on the marine biogeochemical processes and the ecosystem, it is important to be able to describe and understand as much as possible the historical development of the different water quality variables e.g. oxygen levels, nutrient dynamics, acidification, and algal blooms. For future marine environment status, modelling scenarios on human-induced eutrophication or actions are designed to account for the uncertainty in our estimations and modelled climate projections.

Field and laboratory approach

We actively participate in the development of innovative measurement methods e.g. for phytoplankton and ocean acidification. High quality observations are essential to monitor compliance with the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Water Framework Directive. 

One technique used is eDNA to investigate biological diversity among plankton. Another technique is automatic phytoplankton analysis with AI-assisted image analysis. Sampling from ships as well as new types of observing platforms are used, e.g. systems mounted on buoys and cargo ships or unmanned underwater vehicles, so-called gliders.

Current research

Sediment processes, cyanobacteria life cycle, ocean acidification and the coastal zone's importance on nutrient dynamics in the North Sea and Baltic Sea are a few examples of current research topics. The biodiversity of plankton is investigated using eDNA (metabarcoding). Algal blooms are studied with the aim to build early warning systems for harmful algae.

The group is actively involved in several international scientific networks, e.g.  OSPAR ICG-EMO, Baltic Earth, ICES working groups aiming to provide a robust scientific ground for decision support systems.