Oleg Savchuk, researcher at BNI Sweden, have together with colleagues at University of California and Stockholm University investigated how changes in the phenology of physical and ecological variables associated with climate change are likely to have significant effect on many aspects of the Baltic ecosystem.
Time series of environmental variables show variability at multiple scales but separating the effects of natural climate variability from the effects of anthropogenic climate change is difficult.
Gathering environmental variables with the help of satellite sensors and then applying a set of phenological indicators to these, the researchers have detected changes in the environment.
They conclude that phenological indicators are very sensitive to detecting such changes, and significant changes in the seasonality of both physical drivers and in ecological indicators of the Baltic Sea are shown.
The authors have detected trends in e.g. sea-surface temperature (SST) and water turbidity and conclude that there are significant climate-related changes in the Baltic Sea ecosystem.
These changes include improved conditions for cyanobacterial blooms, with duration of the growth season becoming significantly longer and indications that cyanobacteria are becoming more dominant in the phytoplankton community.
Using method globaly
The researchers also conclude that as their analysis is based on satellite data gathered from the Satellite Application Facility on Climate Monitoring, phenological analysis can be extended globally, and not only cover comparatively data-rich areas such as the Baltic Sea.