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.
First out in this English version of the series is Erik Bonsdorff, professor in marine biology and head of the strategic research profile The Sea.
Professor Erik Bonsdorff – what are you doing within the strategic research profile The Sea, and what is the current state of the Baltic Sea?
”The strategic university research profile The Sea grew from the need for Åbo Akademi University to promote and facilitate multidisciplinary efforts of highest academic standards in order to increase our knowledge and understanding of our common sea, through a variety of questions within marine ecology and the environment, industrial engineering and management, public administration and governance, and marine/maritime law.
In this way, through research, education and societal relevance, we want to contribute to tackling and solving the great threats and challenges that the marine realm in all its shapes and facets is faced with, and simultaneously contribute to our ability as a society to adapt and evolve new practices for our use of the marine resources in a sustainable manner.
We study marine and maritime issues in relation to global climate change, nutrient over-enrichment, anoxia, and other environmental threats, as well as the interrelationships between Man and the marine ecosystems.
We also analyze how society can regulate and manage (reduce) human impact on the sea, and how maritime logistics and innovation can contribute to cost-effective solutions for a sustainable future development.
We do this under the umbrella of the UN Global Sustainability Goals as defined in 2015, and under the thematic framework of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021–2030.
The state of the Baltic Sea is far from good at the moment, although some indicators of environmental health gradually develop for the better: nutrient loading has decreased, and marine environmental protection has improved as novel tools for marine spatial planning have evolved.
Still we know that the marine ecosystem, and in particular in our valuable and unique archipelago, has not recovered the way we would have wished.
On the contrary, we know that the previous winter (2019-2020) has contributed with unprecedented amounts of nutrients with riverine and diffuse runoff from land, and that hypoxia/anoxia has not declined, and the effects of climate change seem to happen even faster than models have predicted.
Thus, we have serious wicked problems and questions to tackle, and this we can only do by having a long-term perspective and thematic depth in our unique multi- and interdisciplinary marine Living Lab, The Sea!”
The Sea is a current target of donations at Åbo Akademi University.