The Gulf of Finland

  • H. Pitkänen
  • J. Lehtoranta
  • H. Peltonen
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 197)

In this chapter, we describe the unique physical and biogeochemical conditions of the Gulf of Finland. Although morphologically a direct continuation of the Baltic Proper, several features distinguish the Gulf markedly from other parts of the Baltic Sea. Relative to its surface area, the Gulf of Finland has the largest catchment area and highest freshwater inflow within the Baltic Sea. The external loading of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) relative to the surface area of the Gulf are about two and three times, respectively, those of the Baltic Sea. The Gulf of Finland has a distinct but unstable salinity stratification, which makes the sea area very sensitive to external perturbations. At times, this may lead to e.g. deep water anoxia/hypoxia, elevated benthic release of P and extensive cyanobacterial blooms. The poor oxygen conditions in the Gulf are caused primarily by the voluminous spring bloom and preceding sedimentation of detrital plankton material, which in turn is caused by high wintertime nutrient concentrations. Poor oxygen conditions and intensified sediment release of P have led to strongly increasing deep-water and winter concentrations of inorganic P over the last 10 years. In contrast, N concentrations have decreased since the late 1980s, suggesting the effect of decreased external N loading at the same time. This latter phenomenon probably contributed to the decreased magnitude of the phytoplankton spring blooms in the 1990s.


Neva Estuary Sprattus Sprattus Poor Oxygen Condition High Freshwater Inflow Vernal Bloom 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Pitkänen
    • 1
  • J. Lehtoranta
    • 1
  • H. Peltonen
    • 1
  1. 1.Finnish Environment InstituteHelsinkiFinland

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