Bathymetric Properties of the Baltic Sea

TitleBathymetric Properties of the Baltic Sea
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsJakobsson, M, Stranne, C, O'Regan, M, Greenwood, S, Gustafsson, B, Humborg, C, Weidner, E
JournalOcean Sciences
Date PublishedJuly 16

Marine science and engineering commonly require reliable information about seafloor depth (bathymetry), e.g. for studies of ocean circulation, bottom habitats, fishing resources, sediment transport, geohazards and site selection for platforms and cables. Baltic Sea bathymetric properties are analysed here using the using the newly released Digital Bathymetric Model (DBM) by the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet). The analyses include hypsometry, volume, descriptive depth statistics, and km-scale seafloor ruggedness, i.e. terrain heterogeneity, for the Baltic Sea as a whole as well as for 17 sub-basins defined by the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM). We compare the new EMODnet DBM with IOWTOPO, the previously most widely used DBM of the Baltic Sea which has served as the primary gridded bathymetric resource in physical and environmental studies for nearly two decades. The area of deep water exchange between the Bothnian Sea and the Northern Baltic Proper across the Åland Sea is specifically analysed in terms of depths and locations of critical bathymetric sills. The EMODnet DBM provides a bathymetric sill depth of 88 m at the northern side of the Åland Sea and 60 m at the southern side, differing from previously identified sill depths of 100 and 70 m respectively. High-resolution multibeam bathymetry acquired from this deep water exchange path, where vigorous bottom currents interacted with the seafloor, allows us to assess what we are missing in presently available DBMs in terms of physical characterisation and our ability to then interpret seafloor processes and highlights the need for continued work towards complete high-resolution mapping of the Baltic Sea seafloor.