Coastal ecology and palaeoecology of the Baltic and adjacent seas
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Welcome to the MOLTEN, DETECT and DEFINE home page

European coastal regions have become eutrophic as nutrient loadings have increased from agricultural, industrial and urban sources. This has a variety of undesirable effects, including changes in planktonic algal communities, toxic algal blooms, loss of macrophytes, and benthic deoxygenation, which kills bottom-dwelling animals. These problems have been recognised by the European Water Framework Directive, and remedial action is now being undertaken to restore the coastal zone to its pre-impacted state. Unfortunately, long-term water chemistry and biotic monitoring data are rarely available from before the eutrophication began, which makes it difficult to set targets for nutrient loading and to recognise how much the system has changed. Palaeoecology, the reconstruction of past environments from biotic, chemical and physical evidence in sediment cores, can held describe pre-impact conditions and describe the time and nature of changes.

The projects

MOLTEN, DETECT and DEFINE are three projects that seek to use diatom and other palaeo-proxies to reconstruct recent environmental changes in the Baltic and adjacent seas.

MOLTEN (2001-2003) was funded by the European Commission Framework Programme V: Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, Contract No. EVK3-CT-2000-00031 to merge and expand diatom-nutrient transfer functions previously developed (funded by Newcastle University and Helsinki University) on the south coast of Finland and in Danish waters; to extend the training set into Dutch and Swedish waters; and apply the distom-nutrient transfer function and other palaeo-proxies to sediment cores from Denmark, Finland, Holland and Sweden.

DEFINE (2004-2006) is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers to extend the MOLTEN training set into the Bothnian Sea (both Swedish and Finnish coasts), the Batlic states, the North German coast and Norway. DEFINE will reconstruct nutrient histories from three sites: the Gulf of Riga; a Swedish estuary in the Bothnian Sea; and the Oder River Estuary.

DETECT is funded by the Academy of Finland Baltic Sea Research Program to increase the coverage of the training set into the Finnish Archipelago Sea, and to exact time scales and patterns of eutrophication over the past 150 years at 6 selected sites. Further information is available on this project from the ECRU website.


MOLTEN project report and diatom tool now available.