Academic journal article UTMS Journal of Economics

Climate Changes and Adaptation Policies in the Baltic and the Adriatic Regions

Academic journal article UTMS Journal of Economics

Climate Changes and Adaptation Policies in the Baltic and the Adriatic Regions

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Baltic and the Adriatic seas are both semi-closed, the surface of Adriatic is about half of that of the Baltic Sea.

The Baltic Sea, a region known for a relatively high economic wealth, a high level of education and a high level of environmental awareness among most of its riparian states. This region is home to about 90 million people in its catchment area2 and its further growth is likely to be of comparably high economic stability and prospects.

The Adriatic Sea, home to about 15 million people in its catchment area (about ¼ of that of the Baltic Sea), is characterised by larger socio-economic contrasts. Moreover, Italy, as one of its 6 coastal countries,3 is the dominating player in terms of population size and the GDP. The differential in terms of the annual GDP/capita is large, varying from 4000 USD for Albania to 35.000 USD for Italy.

The main motivation of the present paper is to give an insight in the differences and similarities in the current climate changes in the Baltic and the Adriatic regions, to compare the evolving adaptation policies and instruments on local, national, regional and European levels, and - where possible- to draw conclusions with respect to the results and effects of the measures undertaken.

The Baltic Sea covers area of 415.000 km2. The catchment area is four times larger than the sea itself and is populated by approximately 90 million inhabitants. The Baltic Sea, semi-enclosed basin has not been, since its formation, in a steady state because of the expansions and contractions of the Scandinavian ice sheet. Climate variability caused by natural and human actions, is visible on centennial and decadal scales. Changes in the biogeochemistry are present in the Baltic coastal zone. According to Anadón et.al. (2007) characteristics of the Baltic Sea are low salinities, closed circulation in the central basin, and strong horizontal gradients both in salinity and in ecosystem variables resulting in low biodiversity.

According to Graham et. al. (2006) climate models predict for Baltic region, by the end of the 21st century, temperature increases during all seasons with a mean warming of 3-5°C in the atmosphere and 2-4°C in the sea-surface temperature. A decrease in sea-ice extent by 50-80% over the same period is expected. Changes in precipitation are expected to include wetter winters and in southern parts of the region, drier summers. Anadón et.al. (2007) claim that as a consequence, river runoff during winter might increase by as much as 50%, and the opposite pattern could occur in summer.

The Adriatic Sea is bordered in the west by Italy and in the east by Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania. It is a semi-enclosed sea that connects to the Ionian Sea at the Strait of Otranto, at its southeast. The Adriatic Sea drainage basin covers 235,000 square kilometres, which is about ½ of that of the Baltic Sea.

Precipitation changes, altered circulation and increased sea surface temperatures that cause increased stratification can help to explain the increased frequency of bottom water hypoxia (low oxygen) or anoxia in coastal zone of the northern Adriatic, as Anadón et.al. (2007) say. Hypoxia or anoxia can alter food webs, may have important effects on biodiversity, and are often associated with mass mortalities of fish and benthic fauna.

1. CLIMATE CHANGE

1.1. Climate changes in the Baltic Sea region

Because the Baltic Sea has limited water exchange and higher projected warming than the global mean, major changes in the biodiversity could occur, as Andersson says (2013).

The future climate may be projected by climate models, some of the direct climate changes that scenarios show is increasing annual and seasonal mean temperatures, with the largest increases in the north-eastern part of the region and in winter causing a strongly reduced snow cover.

According to Andersson (2013), the scenarios also show more common and intensified hot temperature extremes and less cold temperature extremes. …

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