Åbo Akademi University’s strategic research profile The Sea investigates models for maritime environment, society and economy, to ensure a continued wellbeing in accordance with The United Nations’ goals for a sustainable development.
We asked our researchers to tell us how their research contributes to healing our seas.
Second out in our English version of the series is Christian Pansch-Hattich, associate professor (tenure track) in marine biology within The Sea profile.
Associate Professor Christian Pansch-Hattich, the focus of your research is climate change and how it affects organisms and ecosystems – how has climate change affected the Baltic Sea this far, and how does your research contribute to healing the sea?
“I am a marine eco-physiologist and started working at Åbo Akademi University in autumn last year. I am fascinated by the sea and the ways species respond and adapt to climate changes, and how the many different species in the sea interact with each other.
My current research focuses on the impacts of environmental variability and extreme climatic events, such as marine heatwaves and hypoxic upwelling, on marine communities, processes that might be referred to as “the weather in the sea”.
Research over the past decade(s) has demonstrated strong sensitivities of Baltic Sea species and ecosystem to man-made disturbances, such as global warming and acidification, but also to more regional stressors such as eutrophication or reductions in seawater salinity and its oxygen content.
Much of this research demonstrated winners and losers of these changes, and that the impacts might even differ between seasons. While warming might benefit some species in spring, intensified marine heatwaves in summer can be harmful. Yet, there might be hope as research also showed that some species can adapt to “the weather in the sea” and to long-term climate changes.
Within the research profile The Sea, I aim on collaborating with researchers from different disciplines such as industrial economics, public administration, law and information technology, to serve the particular question:
Can we – by local measures – mitigate the negative impacts from regional or globally driven extreme events such as marine heatwaves in the Archipelago Sea, and beyond?
By knowing what stress organisms experience locally, and if this stress increases the sensitivities if the species to regional or global changes, helps us to develop mitigation strategies that can be effectively implemental at a local to regional scale, such as temporal reductions in noise and wave emissions, reductions in micro- or macro-plastics, local eutrophication or temporal restrictions in identified key habitats.
I will also aim on linking The Sea to other platforms such as the Future Ocean Network, for a better and wider understanding of the interactions of humans and the sea.”
Visit Christian Pansch-Hattich’s webpage here: Christian Pansch – Experimental Ecology Across Scales
The Sea is a current target of donations at Åbo Akademi University.