Modeling as a tool to study the Baltic Sea ecosystem
- Possibilities and challenges

A doctoral course of 4 + 1 optional ECTS, 18-24 March 2013, at Askö Laboratory and a follow-up day at Stockholm University. The course is arranged as a part of the University’s strategic research programme Baltic Ecosystem Adaptive Management, BEAM.

Course overview

During one entire spring week the course participants from Swedish and international Institutions, were offered lectures by over ten experts from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. The movie is an overview, with commentary from the invited lectures, students and course organizers.

Filmed Lectures

During the course-week we recorded 11 lectures. They cover the most important processes and give an unique overview, as well as in depth knowledge, on existing modeling approaches and their linkages to the Baltic Sea ecosystem. To the presentations.


To provide the participants with a good overview of existing modeling approaches for studying the Baltic Sea ecosystem and its dynamics. The aim is to introduce modeling tools that are applicable to support students’ own experimental studies, as well as to provide a basis for relating more localized or specific model studies into a broader ecosystem context, and address some of the needs that ecosystem-based management have in regard of such work. Emphasis is put on the evaluation of different modeling approaches by discussing their ability to answer specific scientific questions, their strengths and shortcomings and how model uncertainties are addressed.

As a synthesis the course will produce a document that addresses the following question: Which are the most central knowledge gaps in describing the Baltic Sea ecosystem and how could modeling in combination with other approaches contribute to fill these gaps?

Target groups

PhD students and postdocs who already use, or plan to use, modeling as a tool in their research. The course is open to doctoral students involved in BEAM, at the rest of the University and students from other institutes and other interested scientists.

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of marine ecology.

Examination: Active participation in the intensive course at Askö and the day at SU will result in 4 ECTS. Participation in completion of the written report will give another 1 ECTS.

Course description

The course will consist of lectures, discussions, modeling exercises and writing of a report (potentially a scientific paper) addressing how modeling in combination with, e.g., experimental studies and ecosystem monitoring, could fill some central knowledge gaps regarding the functioning of the Baltic Sea ecosystem. After the course, participants who want to contribute to finishing the report can, if sufficient amount of work is put in, get a 1 ECTS extension.

The topics covered will be as follows

  • Introduction to the Baltic Sea and ecosystem modeling
  • Biogeochemical and NPZD models
  • Fish models
  • Recent development in modeling with examples from a range of fields
  • End-to-end models, model linking
  • Opportunities and challenges – dealing with limitations, trade-offs and uncertainties

In addition, a one-day follow-up seminar on SU campus is planned, where SU scientists are invited to present work related to modeling the Baltic Sea ecosystem. The focus of this day will be to promote collaboration between modelers at SU and discuss possible model linkages. To benefit non-participants to the PhD-course, the most relevant outcomes of the course will be presented here. Read about the seminar

Course venue and schedule: The course will be held at Askö Laboratory with an additional day at SU.

Course literature: Selected scientific papers to be read prior to the course start to ensure that the participants have some common knowledge base and understanding of basic principles of ecosystem modeling. All lecturers will be asked to provide a short list of the most relevant literature in their field.

Course fee: No course fee. All students are also provided free accommodation, meals and transport to and from Askö.


Susa Niiranen, Baltic Nest Institute/ Stockholm Resilience Centre/ Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences
Phone: +46 737 078 623
E-mail: susa.niiranen

Maria Sandberg, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences
Phone: +46 736 480 486