Variations in oxygen conditions below the permanent halocline influence the ecosystem of the Baltic Sea through a number of mechanisms. In this study, we examine the effects of physical forcing on variations in the volume of deep oxygenated water suitable for reproductive success of central Baltic cod. Recent research has identified the importance of inflows of saline and oxygenated North Sea water into the Baltic Sea for the recruitment of Baltic cod. However, other processes have been suggested to modify this reproduction volume including variations in timing and volume of terrestrial runoff, variability of the solubility of oxygen due to variations in sea surface temperature as well as the influence of variations in wind stress. In order to examine the latter three mechanisms, we have performed simulations utilizing the Kiel Baltic Sea model for a period of a weak to moderate inflow of North Sea water into the Baltic, modifying wind stress, freshwater runoff and thermal inputs. The model is started from three-dimensional fields of temperature, salinity and oxygen obtained from a previous model run and forced by realistic atmospheric conditions. Results of this realistic reference run were compared to runs with modified meteorological forcing conditions and river runoff. From these simulations, it is apparent that processes other than major Baltic inflows have the potential to alter the reproduction volume of Baltic cod. Low near-surface air temperatures in the North Sea, the Skagerrak/Kattegat area and in the western Baltic influence the water mass properties (high oxygen solubility). Eastward oriented transports of these well-oxygenated highly saline water masses may have a significant positive impact on the Baltic cod reproduction volume in the Bornholm Basin. Finally, we analysed how large scale and local atmospheric forcing conditions are related to the identified major processes affecting the reproduction volume. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Journal of Marine Systems, 2002, Vol 32, Issue 4, p. 281-294