LivingLab North & Gulf of Bothnia

LivingLab leader

Nicholas Kamenos

Area characteristics

Ecosystem: The ecosystems in the Gulf of Bothnia are characterized by significant freshwater input, low connectivity with the open ocean and cold winters. This generates an environment with low salinity, lower biodiversity and a seasonal ice cover. The large river runoff also delivers significant nutrient and organic matter loads (from both natural and human sources). Further, as ongoing climatic changes are more pronounced in the Arctic and sub-Arctic (up to 3 times faster than lower latitudes), this area is a sentinel of the impacts of climate change. In the Southern part of the case study area, there are notable increases in phosphorous concentrations, increasing biomass of filamentous cyanobacteria and declining oxygen concentrations in bottom waters. The land uplift in Sweden is at its highest in this case study area with a maximum of 10mm/year in the northern Quark.
Economy and users: The north of Sweden is experiencing a strong economic growth, combined with ambitions of creating world leading sustainable industrial production and utilization of natural resources. The global drive towards electrification, and a high demand for metals and energy security have all made the region attractive. The Gulf of Bothnia has small and medium sized fishery, and many planned sites for offshore wind farms. The seaways are crucial for many globally exporting industries located in the north of Sweden. The port of Luleå is home to the Swedish fleet of icebreakers.
Society and governance: The north of Sweden is sparsely populated, covering 60 % of the land area but only home to 12 % of the population, of which most live along the coast. Sweden’s only neighboring country around Gulf of Bothnia is Finland, with many shared characteristics, challenges, opportunities, and indeed collaborations. Governance innovation areas: Höga Kusten, Kvarken and Haparanda archipelago in terms of integrative coastal planning and cross-border collaboration. There are no areas beyond jurisdiction of EU member states in the Baltic Sea (except areas under Russian jurisdiction), which means that all water is covered by the EU Marine Strategic Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Water Framework Directive (WFD). HELCOM, however, includes Russian waters and cooperates with the EU.
Issues: The region is experiencing especially pronounced climate change. There is a substantial legacy of environmental impact from process industries, for example fiber banks caused by the pulp industry, which can cause both pollution and very substantial emissions of methane. Overall, the Gulf of Bothnia is characterized by less competition for space and less international complexity, compared to other Swedish offshore areas, but the fast industrialization of energy-intensive industries is likely to have an impact on marine ecosystems.

Area stakeholders

Public sector:   County Administrative Board in Gävleborg; Municipality of Härnösand, HELCOM, SwAM, SEPA, SMA, Svenska kraftnät, Geological Survey of Sweden
Private sector: Sweden Pelagic Federation, Hitachi Energy, LifeFinder Systems International AB, Ecobarge Sweden AB, Clinton Marine Survey AB, Terntank, Sveavind Offshore AB, Cetasol AB, Sensative AB, Combine AB
Civil society:   Stiftelsen för Östersjölaxen, Kustfiskarna, Sportfiskarna, Upplands Fågelskådare, BirdLife Sverige, Coastal water councils, WWF, The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)
Academia:        UMF, IHE, SIME, UGOT, CIT

LivingLab objectives

Scientific – ecosystem & climate: Improved understanding, based on additional/new data sources, of how human offshore presence and economic activity may be a driver for sustainability and climate change mitigation.
Technological: An offshore test area where industry (shipping, fisheries, offshore installations), public sector and civil society conduct experiments in a multifunctional space and collaborate around joint data acquisition and utilization.
Governance & adaptive mgt: Sustainable offshore governance in the context of rapid climate change.
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