Human activity affects the environmental quality in bays, coastal areas and the more open waters. Inputs of nutrients from land, the atmosphere and other sea areas change productivity, the structure and function of marine ecosystems and result in negative effects in the form of mass occurrence of plankton algae, decreased visibility and oxygen depletion. Overfishing and trawling affect the marine food chains and destroy plant and animal communities on the sea floor. Climate change, environmentally harmful substances, oil production, sailing and offshore wind turbines are other examples of human impacts on the marine environment. The coupling between human activity, pressures, ecological processes and ecosystem effects are the primary focus of our research and consultancy activities.
Our research is focused on the relations between nutrient inputs and their effects on the marine ecosystem structure and function. We develop and use simple statistical models, based on monitoring data from the national monitoring programme, as well as dynamic and complex hydrodynamic and ecological models. Using the models we can examine the mechanisms regulating e.g. the occurrence of plant and animal communities, algae blooms and oxygen depletion. We also use the models to examine the potential consequences of changes in nutrient loadings, climate etc. and we can test the effects of measures to reduce the negative effects of excess nutrients. We also develop physical, chemical and biological indicators used to describe and evaluate the environmental quality and study the effect of interacting influences, such as eutrophication, climate change and fisheries.
Physical oceanography and the interaction between the physical and biological environment are the focus of our research. From knowledge of interaction between ocean currents and abiotic and biotic factors, we develop methods and analyze causal relations to describe the occurrence and spread of marine key organisms such as eelgrass and the spread of planktonic larvae, and we try to predict which species will coexist in future - and where.
Our methods are largely based on dynamic, statistical and GIS-based models that integrate the most recent research, process studies and monitoring data. We develop model tools that can be used both in research and to support the ecosystem-based management of marine areas, for example in connection with the implementation of EU directives such as the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Directive on Maritime spatial planning.