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Time traveling with biomarkers: Baltic Sea sediment archives reveal frequency of “blue-green algae” since 1860

IOW scientist Jerome Kaiser with sediment core
With the help of well-dated sediment cores, Jerome Kaiser (IOW) can look back several thousand years into the Baltic Sea's past. (photo: IOW / K. Beck)

Researchers from Warnemünde and La Jolla, California, have succeeded for the first time in reconstructing the history of blue-green algae blooms in the central Baltic Sea over the last 160 years by using biomarkers and a well-dated sediment core. This way, they extended the period, for which information on the frequency of blooms was previously available, well into the past. In the international journal “Biogeosciences” they discuss possible causes for the fluctuations they detected. No clear evidence of a causal link between cyanobacteria abundance and eutrophication of the Baltic Sea was apparent, but they found evidence of a link with increased summer surface water temperatures.

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