Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
18 Jan 2010
 | 18 Jan 2010

Density and Absolute Salinity of the Baltic Sea 2006–2009

R. Feistel, S. Weinreben, H. Wolf, S. Seitz, P. Spitzer, B. Adel, G. Nausch, B. Schneider, and D. G. Wright

Abstract. The brackish water of the Baltic Sea is a mixture of ocean water from the Atlantic/North Sea with fresh water from various rivers draining a large area of lowlands and mountain ranges. The evaporation-precipitation balance results in an additional but minor excess of fresh water. The rivers carry different loads of salts washed out of the ground, in particular calcium carbonate, which cause a composition anomaly of the salt dissolved in the Baltic Sea in comparison to Standard Seawater. Directly measured seawater density shows a related anomaly when compared to the density computed from the equation of state as a function of Practical Salinity, temperature and pressure.

Samples collected from different regions of the Baltic Sea during 2006–2009 were analysed for their density anomaly. The results obtained for the river load deviate significantly from similar measurements carried out forty years ago; the reasons for this decadal variability are not yet fully understood. An empirical formula is derived which estimates Absolute from Practical Salinity of Baltic Sea water, to be used in conjunction with the new Thermodynamic Equation of Seawater 2010 (TEOS-10), endorsed by IOC/UNESCO in June 2009 as the substitute for the 1980 International Equation of State, EOS-80. Our routine measurements of the samples were accompanied by studies of additional selected properties which are reported here: conductivity, density, chloride, bromide and sulphate content, total CO2 and alkalinity.