Baltic Earth - Extending the knowledge of the regional Earth system in the Baltic Sea region
The goal of Baltic Earth is to achieve an improved Earth system understanding of the Baltic Sea region.Baltic Earth is the successor to BALTEX that was terminated in June 2013 after 20 years and two successful phases. The research components of BALTEX continue to be relevant, but now have a more holistic focus encompassing processes in the atmosphere, on land and in the sea, as well as processes and impacts related to the anthroposphere. Specific interdisciplinary research challenges have been formulated by the Baltic Earth Interim Science Steering Group to be approached by the new programme in the coming years. The continuity in basic research fields, structure (secretariat, conferences, publications) and the international network (people and institutions) is symbolized by the logo, which is similar but still distinctly different from the BALTEX logo.
A major means of achieving the goals of Baltic Earth will be scientific assessments of particular research topics to be prepared by expert groups. Similar to the BACC approach, the assessments shall help to identify gaps and inconsistencies in the current knowledge. A Baltic Earth Science Plan is in preparation, with a definition of core research questions, so-called “Grand Challenges”. They are currently:
- Salinity dynamics in the Baltic Sea
- Land-Sea biogeochemical feedbacks in the Baltic Sea region
- Natural hazards and extreme events in the Baltic Sea region
- Understanding sea level dynamics in the Baltic Sea
- Understanding regional variability of water and energy exchanges
The Grand Challenges are intended as flexible, regularly updated research topics and will be dealt with by specific working groups. In addition, the BALTEX Working Groups on the “Utility of Regional Climate Models”, and “Assessment of Scenario Simulations for the Baltic Sea 1960-2100 “ will continue in Baltic Earth. Dedicated working groups have also been established on “Outreach and Communication” and “Education”.
The human impact shall be assessed at all levels, wherever possible and reasonable. New Grand Challenges and modifications of existing ones can be implemented by the steering committee and the working groups, by using the assessments of existing research and knowledge, and the open discussions at conferences and workshops. The Grand Challenges are foreseen as research foci for periods of about 3-4 years (then terminated or updated). It is envisaged that Baltic Earth will be internationally embedded in a similar manner as was BALTEX.
Baltic Earth intends to provide a “service to society” in the respect that the assessments may provide an overview of knowledge gaps, and the communication with different stakeholders may help to identify open scientific questions relevant for society, which could be approached by funded research projects.
Baltic Earth will also be committed to educational activities with the establish- ment of regular Baltic Earth Summer Schools, the first of which is intended to take place in 2015. The first dedicated Baltic Earth Conference is planned for 2016.
“Products” of Baltic Earth will include:
- Assessment Projects
- Research Projects
- Summer Schools