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The Baltic Sea: past, present and future


    The Four Seas of Europe MenuUnlike the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea is one of the most carefully studied marine ecosystems. Ongoing European research projects here therefore tend to build on previous research to fill specific gaps in our knowledge. In particular, current projects are concentrating on processes which, when we understand more about them, will help us develop more accurate models for predicting how the Baltic system will change in the future. BASYS aims to understand the external factors, both natural and human in origin, that will cause these changes. This is an ambitious project that uses a systemic approach to study the physics, chemistry, biology and geology of the whole Baltic Sea in all possible time scales. This means looking at all the processes that go on in the sea using historical data, using field research to collect new information on the current state of the waters and predicting future events using sophisticated computer models. Another important Baltic project that aims to predict the future is POPCYLING. Scientists from 7 EU countries are developing a multimedia model to study the fate and behaviour of POPs - Persistent Organic Pollutants - in the Baltic Region. In the Baltic Basin Case Study, researchers are concentrating on the socio-economic aspects of environmental systems in coastal regions. The research, due to be completed in 1999, is building an information base which describes the natural resources of the Baltic Basin. This will be used to help develop more sustainable methods of exploiting those resources that will encourage economic growth without damaging the environment. A few key ecosystems have been chosen as sites for study by resource managers, decision makers and citizens' groups, as well as scientists.

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