What is the most important for decision-makers and the general public to know about eutrophication in the Baltic Sea, about chemicals, fisheries, climate change and biodiversity? A panel of talented journalists from different countries will cross-examine five of the most renowned Baltic Sea researchers during the opening sessions of the Baltic Sea Science Congress (see below for a list of participants).

Behind the format is the American organization COMPASS and the session, held in the form of a mock press conference, is led by prominent science communicator Nancy Baron from the same organization.

Nancy Baron, Director of Science Outreach at COMPASS will lead the opening mock press conference where renowned journalists and scientists will participate.

 "As professional question-askers, the journalists will cut to the chase: What do policy makers and the public need to know? How will changes to the Baltic Sea affect them? What’s working and where should we go from here? This opening session is designed to stimulate fresh thinking, reveal connections, help lead towards solutions, and catalyze conversations throughout the congress", COMPASS describes.

Lead scientist and organizer Christoph Humborg from Stockholm University Baltic Sea Science Center is excited about the opening.
 "This opening sets the tone for the whole conference. Communicating the relevance of your research is important for every scientist and an area where many of us can improve. I think this press conference will be an eye-opener for all the attendants and very entertaining too!"

The Swedish Minister for Environment and Climate Isabella Lövin will also participate in the webcasted opening, as does the University of Stockholm President Astrid Söderbergh Widding.

New challenges for the Baltic Sea

The twelfth edition of the Baltic Sea Science Congress aims to set out a new direction for Baltic research.

 "Over the past ten years, many major research projects have been implemented through the international Baltic Sea program BONUS, and have provided a lot of new and important knowledge", Christoph Humburg says. "Now we are entering a new phase where we must synthesize and take advantage of this knowledge, and address all the new challenges for the Baltic Sea."

Christoph Humborg, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Center.

For many years, focus of the Baltic Sea research has been on the eutrophication problem. It is now becoming increasingly evident that the nutrient loads from the catchment and atmosphere are decreasing and that the Baltic Sea basins are experiencing a shift from a degradation phase to a recovery phase.

 "The eutrophication situation is slowly improving, but it will take time", Christoph Humborg says. "But society has the knowledge and essentially knows what needs to be done."

Instead new challenges and concerns have arisen, such as climare change. New research by the Baltic Bridge collaboration, involving Stockholm University and the University of Helsinki, shows that the temperature in some parts of the Baltic Sea has risen by two degrees since the 1990s.

 "It is extremely worrying and can have major effects on the Baltic ecosystem", Christoph Humborg says. "Many well-known species will not cope with these elevated temperatures, while new species from warmer seas will become more common here."

Research on the coastal zone is also in focus during the congress. This is where many important biological processes take place, and where the human impact is most significant. The researchers are needed to bring nature's case when many conflicting interests should be aligned.

 "It is an important area, but difficult to research", says Christoph Humborg. "Each part of the coast is different from the others. How to draw general conclusions from different studies is one one of the challenges that we will discuss during the congress."

Renowned keynote speakers

Thomas Bianchi, Simon Trush and Katja Fennel are keynote speakers at the Baltic Sea Science Congress. They are international experts and here to speak about coastal ecosystems, global carbon fluxes and the role of the ocean in the climate system. Read more about them here.

Well-reputed participants in the press conference

Participating journalists in the opening mock press conference is Pulitzer Price winner Kenneth R. Weiss and David Malakoff, Deputy News Editor at Science Magazine. From Sweden comes Jannike Kihlborg, Dagens nyheter, from Finland Peter Buchert, Hufvudstadsbladet, and from Latvia radio and TV journalist Sandra Kropa. 

The researchers who have taken on the challenge of describing their subject areas as concisely and powerfully as possible are Alf Norko from the University of Helsinki, Anna Sobek from Stockholm University ACES, Erik Kjellström from SMHI, Henrik Österblom from Stockholm Resilience Center and Michelle McCrackin from Stockholm University Baltic Sea center.

The special opening event is supported by BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development program.