An economic–ecological model to evaluate impacts of nutrient abatement in the Baltic Sea


Ahlvik, L., Ekholm, P., Hyytiäinen, K., Pitkänen, H.


Environmental Modelling & Software, Volume 55, May 2014, pp 164 - 175



• We combine catchment and marine models to analyse the economics of nutrient abatement.

• The model framework incorporates economic and ecological data.

• We solve for the cost-efficient way to reduce phytoplankton in the Baltic Sea.

Coupled economic-ecological model

This paper presents a coupled economic–ecological model that integrates a catchment model with a marine model and incorporates economic data to analyse the long-term economic and ecological consequences of nutrient abatement in the Baltic Sea. 

The spatially explicit model describes dynamics of soil phosphorus in arable land, developments of nutrient concentrations and phytoplankton biomass in the sea basins, and inter-annual variation in nutrient loads and biophysical processes. 

Costs of reaching the Baltic Sea Action Plan

The performance of the model is demonstrated by computing the least-cost solution to reach the good environmental state of the sea – as implied by the  Baltic Sea Action Plan – within a time span of 40 years. 

The total cost of achieving this target is 1487 M€ annually. Spatially optimal allocation of load reductions differs from the load reduction targets of the Baltic Sea Action Plan, and focuses more on the control of phosphorus loads.

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More information

This research is part of BalticSTERN research network.

Download the BalticSTERN final report, "The Baltic Sea - Our Common Treasure. Economics of Saving the Sea", here.


Published May 2014, available online 14 February 2014

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