EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Human impacts and their interactions in the Baltic Sea region

Marcus Reckermann1 and the BEAR Human Impacts Author team*
Marcus Reckermann and the BEAR Human Impacts Author team
  • 1Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, International Baltic Earth Secretariat, Geesthacht, Germany (
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

Coastal environments, in particular heavily populated semi-enclosed marginal seas and coasts like the Baltic Sea region, are strongly affected by human activities. A multitude of human impacts, including climate change, affects the different compartments of the environment, and these effects interact with each other.

As part of the Baltic Earth Assessment Reports (BEAR), we present an inventory and discussion of different human-induced factors and processes affecting the environment of the Baltic Sea region, and their interrelations. Some are naturally occurring and modified by human activities (i.e. climate change, coastal processes, hypoxia, acidification, submarine groundwater discharges, marine ecosystems, non-indigenous species, land use and land cover), some are completely human-induced (i.e. agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, river regulations, offshore wind farms, shipping, chemical contamination, dumped warfare agents, marine litter and microplastics, tourism, coastal management), and they are all interrelated to different degrees.

We present a general description and analysis of the state of knowledge on these interrelations. Our main insight is that climate change has an overarching, integrating impact on all of the other factors and can be interpreted as a background effect, which has different implications for the other factors. Impacts on the environment and the human sphere can be roughly allocated to anthropogenic drivers such as food production, energy production, transport, industry and economy.

We conclude that a sound management and regulation of human activities must be implemented in order to use and keep the environments and ecosystems of the Baltic Sea region sustainably in a good shape. This must balance the human needs, which exert tremendous pressures on the systems, as humans are the overwhelming driving force for almost all changes we see. The findings from this inventory of available information and analysis of the different factors and their interactions in the Baltic Sea region can largely be transferred to other comparable marginal and coastal seas in the world.

This work is published as Open Access article in Earth System Dynamics (Earth Syst. Dynam., 13, 1–80, 2022;

BEAR Human Impacts Author team:

Omstedt, A., Soomere, T., Aigars, J., Magdalena N., 7ełdowska, M., Bełdowski, J., Cronin, T., Czub, M., Eero, M., Hyytiäinen, K. P., Jalkanen, J.-P., Kiessling, A., Kjellström, E., Kuliński, K., Larsén, X. G., McCrackin, M., Meier, H. E. M., Oberbeckmann, S., Parnell, K., Pons-Seres de Brauwer, C., Poska, A., Saarinen, J., Szymczycha, B., Undeman, E., Wörman, A. and Zorita, E.

How to cite: Reckermann, M. and the BEAR Human Impacts Author team: Human impacts and their interactions in the Baltic Sea region, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-2776,, 2023.