Assessment of Uncertainties in Scenario Simulations of Biogeochemical Cycles in the Baltic Sea


Following earlier regional assessment studies, such as the Assessment of Climate Change for the Baltic Sea Basin and the North Sea Region Climate Change Assessment, knowledge acquired from available literature about future scenario simulations of biogeochemical cycles in the Baltic Sea and their uncertainties is assessed. The identification and reduction of uncertainties of scenario simulations are issues for marine management. For instance, it is important to know whether nutrient load abatement will meet its objectives of restored water quality status in future climate or whether additional measures are required. However, uncertainties are large and their sources need to be understood to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of measures. The assessment of sources of uncertainties in projections of biogeochemical cycles based on authors' own expert judgment suggests that the biggest uncertainties are caused by (1) unknown current and future bioavailable nutrient loads from land and atmosphere, (2) the experimental setup (including the spin up strategy), (3) differences between the projections of global and regional climate models, in particular, with respect to the global mean sea level rise and regional water cycle, (4) differing model-specific responses of the simulated biogeochemical cycles to long-term changes in external nutrient loads and climate of the Baltic Sea region, and (5) unknown future greenhouse gas emissions. Regular assessments of the models' skill (or quality compared to observations) for the Baltic Sea region and the spread in scenario simulations (differences among projected changes) as well as improvement of dynamical downscaling methods are recommended.
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