Eutrophication is the main issue of the Baltic Sea. An abundance of nitrogen and phosphorus from agriculture and sewage contributes to a changing ecosystem and a dead, anoxic seabed. Read the latest research and analyses about eutrophication here.
News about eutrophication
Read about our latest research and news on eutrophication:
Policy briefs and fact sheets on eutrophication
Baltic Eye's article archive on eutrophication
Find Baltic Eye's article archive on eutrophication here, with all articles written between 2018–2021. Newer articles are found in the Baltic Eye news feed, see above. Contact us if you are interested in older articles.
Articles from 2021
Baltic Breakfast: Impacts of climate change on the Baltic Sea – the known and the uncertain
2021.12.20: The temperature of air and water in the Baltic Sea region has already increased due to global warming, and it will continue to do so. On this, researchers and their models are certain. But when it comes to factors like precipitation and salinity, the uncertainties in the projections are larger. At the latest Baltic Breakfast, Markus Meier and Anna Rutgersson – two of the scientists in the joint HELCOM/Baltic Earth Expert Network on Climate Change – presented the latest scientific knowledge on the topic.
Comment: EU Soil Strategy treads carefully
2021.12.09: Now it is here – the long-awaited proposal for an EU soil strategy. It treads carefully though, since the Commission’s last trial in 2006 to get a soil directive in place failed. So, this proposal mainly suggests long term objectives for soils and only has few hard core legally binding actions.
Why isn't the sea recovering?
2021.09.20: Researchers at Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre say that the eutrophication situation in the Baltic Sea is improving. Still, large algal blooms are frequent and the oxygen-depleted sea bottoms are larger than ever. Why isn't the sea recovering?
The EU Farm to Fork strategy – what is happening?
2021.09.15: Here we share the latest on the Farm to Fork strategy (F2F). The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee and its Environmental Committee have agreed and both committees claim to be satisfied.
Baltic Breakfast: Seafood consumption from a sustainability perspective
2021.07.20: Is it sustainable to increase seafood consumption and how could consumers be encouraged to make sustainable choices? These issues were in focus during the last Baltic Breakfast webinar where researchers Sara Hornborg and Malin Jonell participated.
Comment: On the EU Commission Zero Pollution Action Plan
2021.05.17: The Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre welcomes the EU Commission Zero Pollution Action Plan, ZPAP, which was launched today. We support the aim of the plan to increase efforts to combat negative effects on the environmental and human health from pollution of air, water and soil. We agree with the statement that the economic case for acting on pollution is clear and the benefits for society far outweigh the costs, just as the costs of inaction hugely outweigh the costs of action.
New study: Greater consideration for contaminants is needed in marine monitoring programs
2021.04.13: A new scientific study from Stockholm University shows that environmental contaminants have a greater impact on the Baltic Sea's bottom community than previously known. According to the researchers, consideration must be given to hazardous substances when using small crustaceans and other sediment-dwelling animals to assess how affected different sea areas are by eutrophication and oxygen deficiency.
Pan-European multi-model assessments can support EU policy decisions
2021.03.31: What effects will an improved nutrient management have on eutrophication, biodiversity and fisheries in the European seas? As an attempt to provide answers to such question, researchers from all over Europe have used a suit if biochemical and ecosystem models to simulate the response of nutrient reductions to indicators used in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Comment: A future EU soil strategy must cover risk of nutrient leakage
2021.03.17: The EU Commission has again initiated getting a soil strategy in place, possibly leading up to new soil legislation. A roadmap was presented last fall and now an open consultation asking for input to a strategy is available until April 5th 2021. The Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre thinks that a future strategy must handle the intricate connection between soil condition and risk of nutrient leakage to water.
How will the Baltic Sea ecosystem services change in the future?
2021.02.18: If global sustainability goals and the Baltic Sea Action Plan are fully complied with, it is possible to regain valuable fisheries, more swimming days without algal blooms in the summer and a higher biological diversity in the Baltic Sea. If we instead go towards a fossil fuel dependent development, with few regulations on eutrophication and fisheries, several important ecosystem services may be lost. This is shown by research from the BalticAPP project.
Comment: A Blue Year for the Baltic
2021.01.22: 2020 – was it only bad? The pandemic tended to overshadow everything else, but let us forget about the terrible corona virus for a minute and consider if 2020 brought any positive news for the Baltic Sea and what we can expect of 2021.
Articles from 2020
Comment: "Ambitious objectives but lack substantial tools"
2020.12.21: The EU Commission proposal for the 8th Environment Action Programme until 2030 has ambitious objectives but lack substantial tools.
The great plankton change – good or bad for the Baltic Sea ecosystem?
2020.11.16: The phytoplankton community of the Baltic Sea is changing. A trend towards more cyanobacteria and fewer diatoms affects the entire marine ecosystem. The big question for the marine scientists is: How?
Comment: F2F is already being watered down
2020.11.12: The Common Agricultural Policy is not the only policy that is being watered down. The EU Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy, F2F, presented last spring, is already under severe attacks from many actors. The risk of ending up with a weakened strategy is real.
Comment: EU Council and Parliament water down the CAP
2020.10.21: During the last days, both the EU Council of Ministers and the Parliament voted in favour of reducing the green ambitions of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This means that from 2021, the new CAP will be less beneficial to the Green Deal – and thereby probably contribute less to reducing negative impacts on waters.
Baltic Breakfast: Input ceilings replace reduction targets in new Baltic Sea Action Plan
2020.10.14: The Baltic Sea Action Plan is up for revision and researchers at Stockholm University have made important contributions to the scientific basis for the updated plan. At the last Baltic Breakfast, Bo Gustafsson and Emma Undeman presented parts of their work on eutrophication and hazardous substances.
Analysis: Baltic Sea fishing has not gone according to (multiannual) plan
2020.10.07: The decline in Baltic Sea cod and herring cannot be blamed solely on old sins. It must also be seen as a signal that something is not right in the administration, writes the Baltic Sea Center's Henrik Hamrén.
Comment: A new sewage sludge directive should focus more on the marine environment
2020.09.09: The debate on new rules for how sewage sludge should be used should take greater account of how the sea and fresh water are affected, the Baltic Sea Centre writes in its response to the European Commission's consultation on a roadmap for a possible revision of the sludge directive.
Comment: A revised Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive needs to address the chemical flow in modern society
2020.09.08: When the Commission revises the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, UWWTD, the directive needs to be seen as part of the solution to decrease the chemical load of micropollutants in our fresh and marine waters, writes the Baltic Sea Centre in its reply to the European Commission’s consultation on the roadmap for a revision of the UWWTD.
Comment: Farm to Fork strategy has welcome tools for closing the nutrient loops
2020.05.20: Today the European Commission published the Farm to Fork strategy, F2F, stating key areas for the EU to work with in order to increase food security and public health and to promote sustainable production systems. The strategy is part of the new Commission’s aim to set long term goals for important policy areas and should be seen in the light of the new Green Deal.
Comment: Reply to the roadmap for the Farm to Fork Strategy
2020.03.13: Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre welcomes the initiative and agrees that the transition to more sustainable food systems need to accelerate. Given an increasing population, increasing incomes and the resulting increases in environmental pressures, we need an accelerating eco-efficiency in our production and consumption of food. Eco-efficiency should be the overarching objective of the strategy.
Promising action plan for circular economy
2020.03.11: Today the European Commission adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan. Advocacy and Analysis Officer Hanna Sjölund explains why this matters.
The Baltic Sea if no measures had been taken
2020.03.10: 75 percent higher nitrogen levels than today and 50 percent more phytoplankton. That is the state Baltic Proper would have been in if no measures had been taken to limit eutrophication, according to new studies. “It will take time for the effects of the achieved load reductions to give improvements of the state in the sea, but the situation in the Baltic Sea would have been catastrophic today had we not curbed emissions in time" says Bo Gustafsson, oceanographer and director of the Baltic Nest Institute at Stockholm University's Baltic Sea Center.
Researchers: Bottom trawling threatens seafloor integrity
2020.03.03: Bottom trawling has considerable effects on benthic life, but can also lead to a release of nutrients and hazardous chemicals from the sediments. These effects are important to consider when evaluating the effects of fishing on the Baltic Sea environment, say researchers at Stockholm University.
Articles from 2019
Climate change will increase the pressure on the Baltic Sea
2019.12.04: Climate is high on the agenda again. The UN COP25 Climate Change Conference in Madrid, just started. Recently the European parliament approved a resolution declaring a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and globally. Climate change will increase the pressure on the Baltic Sea. Now it is time to start filling the goals with action for our seas.
This is what the Baltic Sea can expect from the new Commission
2019.12.02: "The expectations on commissioner Sinkevičius are high".
Comment: An important decision and a step forward
2019.10.15: Fisheries and agriculture ministers around the Baltic Sea may have made an important decision at the Council meeting this week.
Phosphorus in the catchment – Actions taken today create tomorrow’s legacy
2019.09.16: Article by Bo Gustafsson, Baltic Nest Institute, Stockholms universitets Östersjöcentrum.
17 million ton pool of phosphorus affects eutrophication work
2019.06.17: Almost half of the phosphorus currently entering the Baltic Sea could leak from an enormous pool of accumulated phosphorus on land. Decision-makers must take this in into account when designing nutrient reduction measures and targets, says researcher Michelle McCrackin.
Eating less meat must become a global trend to effect eutrophication
2019.01.17: The EAT Lancet report confirms that we all need to consume fewer animal products, such as beef, in the name of climate and feeding the world. But to have an impact on the Baltic Sea environment the shift must take place on a global scale, says Baltic Eye researchers.
BLOG: From finance to phosphorus. Michelle McCrackin tells a personal story about how she went from being an accountant to becoming a scientist
2019.01.06: What is your story? I participated in a Story Collider event at the ASLO Summer Meeting in June 2018. I had always been a fan of story-telling shows, both at live performances and in podcasts, but never thought I would have the courage to do something like this myself.
Articles from 2018
This is what Europe's agriculture looks like in 2030
2018.12.14: By 2030 Europeans will eat less meat and drink less milk. But production will be stable, according to the European Commission. This places high demands on how the milk and meat are produced, says researchers Annika Svanbäck and Michelle McCrackin of the Baltic Sea Centre.
Guest column: Alan Matthews - National CAP strategies important for the marine environment
2018.12.05: Allocation of EU funding for environmentally friendly farming practices will be determined on national levels. For those who want to see reduced nutrient loads from agriculture to the marine environment, it will be important to participate in the design of the CAP Strategic Plans, writes Alan Matthews, Professor Emeritus at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
Mussel farming an uncertain measure against eutrophication
2018.11.01: The cultivation of blue mussels may have many positive effects; however, as a measure against eutrophication it remains an all too uncertain method. This is the conclusion of a new research report from Stockholm University’s Baltic Sea Centre.
BLOG: Digging in the mud
2018.10.07: I currently spend most of my time in the office, working with large datasets and computer models. So, I jumped at the opportunity to join a research cruise. It was great to be out of the office and learn first-hand about interesting research being conducted in the Baltic Sea.
Olle Torpman: The Baltic Sea problem – an ethical problem
2018.10.02: The Baltic Sea’s environmental problem can be solved, but, if the region’s actors are to be able to agree on practical solutions, we must start to bring more ethics into the debate, writes the philosopher Olle Torpman.
Baltic Eye’s work is analysed in a new international study
2018.09.14: "Responding to today's environmental challenges requires science to be integrated into politics and practice," says researcher Chris Cvitanovic, author of a new study on Baltic Eye's work to bridge the gap between science and policy.
Seven-year project shows that eutrophic coastal areas can be saved
2018.09.13: By reducing the nutrient load from land and addressing the internal load, eutrophic bays along our coasts can be saved. But the applied measures have to go hand in hand, according to the researchers behind the scientific demonstration project Living coast, which is now presenting its results.
Save the Baltic Sea for real!
2018.09.12: Text: Dämien Bolinius
BLOG: Old sins and the sea
2018.08.13: In a new scientific publication, we explored the potential for the accumulated pool of phosphorus on land to leak to the Baltic Sea. Our computer model suggests that about half of current phosphorus loads are due to "old sins." But it is possible that the worst has passed and legacy leakage could decrease in the future.
Guest column: Competitive and eco-friendly agriculture is absolutely essential for the Baltic Sea
2018.08.07: “Having a competitive agricultural sector and funding earmarked for the environment and climate are the most important elements of the new agricultural reform,” writes Fredrick Federley (Centre Party Sweden) in a guest column.
Fact Sheet: Can changing our diets help the Baltic Sea?
2018.06.25: This fact sheet describes different scenarios on how trade, production, and consumption affects eutrophication in the Baltic Sea.
What is internal load?
2018.06.15: There are many questions being asked about internal load and geo-engineering measures. Here, some of them are being answered by Baltic Eye researcher Michelle McCrackin.
Mussel farming in the Baltic Sea
2018.06.15: According to current knowledge, blue mussel farming is not an efficient measure against eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Blue mussels grow slowly in brackish water. Besides, large farms risk harming the marine environment more than they benefit it.
Analysis: Eutrophication demoted in the proposal for the EU's agricultural policy
2018.05.31: As expected, the impact of agriculture on marine environments is not a high priority issue in the European Commission's draft for the new European common agricultural policy. Gun Rudquist from the Baltic Sea Centre at Stockholm University has, however, identified some positive aspects in the proposal.
BLOG: No "silver bullet" to restore the Baltic Sea
2018.05.15: I had the honor of joining a panel discussion organized by Centrum Balticum at the Turku School of Economics in Finland. The question posed to the panel was “Can geo-engineering save the Sea?” The general sentiment among the panelists was that there is no “silver bullet” to reverse eutrophication.
Analysis: We need to better understand the sources of nutrients
2018.04.12: Latest HELCOM report shows continued reductions in nutrient inputs to the Baltic Sea. Better understanding of the sources of nutrients is vital, and requires harmonized methods for all countries in the catchment, writes Baltic Sea researcher Michelle McCrackin.
BLOG: We all live in a watershed
2018.01.15: What happens upstream doesn't necessarily stay upstream.
BLOG: What is eutrophication?
2018.01.05: You might be more familiar with the symptoms of eutrophication than the term itself.
Articles from 2017
Analysis: Proposal for EU countries to have greater autonomy with agriculture
2017.12.19: The EU Commission wants to scrap greening from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and create greater autonomy amongst the member states. “Increasing participation of the individual countries is good, but this presumes that the rules are the same for all; Nor must environmental considerations be undermined”, writes Gun Rudquist.
BLOG: What is science?
2017.11.07: Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge - Carl Sagan.
Comment: Regulation can reduce the risk of eutrophication
2017.10.20: The European Parliament will vote on the proposal for a regulation on fertilizer trade on 24 October. The bill aims to facilitate the production and marketing of fertilizers from, for example, manure. It should also set limit values for pollutants like cadmium in all manure.
Why don’t we stop the algal blooms?
2017.08.28: This question was raised in a conversation about options for combating eutrophication in the Baltic Sea, arranged by the Swedish Radio program Klotet at the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm.
BLOG: Corporate environmental stewardship: a pathway to pollution management?
2017.08.27: What is it and what can it deliver?
BLOG: Explosive medicine
2017.07.24: What do a scientific prize, an explosive compound, and heart disease have in common?
BLOG: The dead zones
2017.06.29: You probably wouldn’t know one was there unless you had an oxygen meter.
BLOG: Rediscovering curiosity
2017.06.25: As a child, I was shy, quiet, and socially awkward. So I retreated into my head and to books. For some reason, I was particularly drawn to field guides. I wanted to understand the natural world and was fascinated by the variety of everything – trees, birds, rocks, even clouds.
BLOG: The 30,000 little pigs
2017.06.13: In a previous post, I explained the wastewater treatment system in Linkoping. Here, I describe how manure is handled at a high-density pig farm.
BLOG: Nitrogen changed my life
2017.06.08: Learning about the nitrogen cycle helped my transition from business to science.
BLOG: Have you met a limnologist?
2017.05.05: Probably not, but we are out there!
BLOG: What happens after you flush the toilet?
2017.04.27: If you have ever been curious about where stuff goes when you flush the toilet, I will take you on a tour of a wastewater treatment plant.
BLOG: In praise of sewers
2017.04.24: Sewers are an under-appreciated part of daily life.
Articles from 2016
Better nutrient recycling can reduce EU dependence on foreign phosphorus
2016.12.13: Better recycling of nutrients in the agricultural ecosystem would cut demand for fertilisers and reduce our dependence on Russian phosphorus imports, write Baltic Eye researchers on EurActiv.
The Story of the Baltic Sea 2.0
2016.11.09: Over the years, the human perception of the ocean has changed. Our present-day tale of the Baltic Sea must weave together society, people and the sea, says researcher Susanna Lidström.
Nutrient pollution “diets” work, but they take time
2016.11.03: Reductions in external nutrient inputs in eutrophic aquatic ecosystems can lead to improved conditions, but other factors also play a role.
Seminar on internal load
2016.11.02: It is time for the 7th meeting about the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region. Baltic Eye is hosting a seminar on the internal phosphorus load, a theme of great importance for the eutrophication issue.
Analysis: Agriculture in the Baltic Sea region is changing
2016.10.24: oth financial profitability and long-term sustainability need to be taken into account in the process.
Analysis: A manure diet – in wait for reduced meat consumption
2016.10.24: Reducing meat consumption can have positive environmental effects. But diets are unlikely to change overnight. Meanwhile, improved manure management can reduce nutrient loads to the Baltic Sea, writes Baltic Eye researcher Michelle McCrackin.
Analysis: The Baltic Sea needs more than a quick fix
2016.10.14: Geoengineering as a quick-fix for the Baltic Sea distracts us from the real problem, writes Baltic Eye researcher Michelle McCrackin.
Successful long-term measures
2016.07.14: Despite algal blooms and dead zones - the overall eutrophication in the Baltic Sea have in fact decreased. According to a new study by Swedish, Danish and Finnish researchers, the improvement is a result of long-term measures to reduce nutrient inputs from land.
A unique holistic approach to manure management
2016.07.14: Agriculture has access to almost twice as much nutrients compared to what is needed by the crops. By mapping the surpluses, Baltic Eye researchers Annika Svanbäck and Michelle McCrackin hope to be able to help reduce nutrient leaching from agriculture to the Baltic Sea.
Last updated: January 31, 2023