To get to know more about the Bothnian Bay one needs to take a look below the surface. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but within the SEAmBOTH project we use several techniques to collect information about anything from the shape of the seafloor and the visibility of the water to the particular plants growing in the shallow bays. The data that is collected during the geological and biological surveys and from satellite remote sensing is then used to make computer models and create maps over the area. To be useful the maps need to be adapted to the needs of the users. Thereafter they can be used as an effective tool in management of the area and decision-making of issues concerning the Bothnian Bay.
Geological surveys & Lidar
Marine geological surveys provide information on the characteristics of the seafloor; namely bathymetry (the topography of the underwater landscape), seabed and sub-seabed substrates and structures. The information is collected by using state of the art innovative techniques to “scan” the seafloor as well as taking up samples directly from the sea floor.
More information about the fascinating work of geologists can be found here!
In the very shallow areas of the Bothnian Bay (in 0-6 meters depth) the large survey vessels cannot enter. Hence the information about the seafloor has to be collected by airborne laser scanning, so called Lidar (light detection and ranging). A small airplane flies back and forth over the survey area while sending out pulses of laser that can measure the distance to the ground, and in this case to the bottom of the shallow waters. With several measurements a map of the underwater topography can be made.
Information on the plants and animals of the Bothnian Bay is collected in several ways. In the shallow bays along the coasts of Sweden and Finland we snorkel, scuba dive, wade or use a drop-video camera to identify species of plants and their distribution. By taking up samples from the sea floor, small organisms living in the bottom (so called bottom fauna) can be studied. To understand the conditions for living organisms in the sea we also need measurements of e.g. salinity of the water and turbidity (how clear the water is).
Satellite remote sensing
The sea is vast and it is not realistic, or practical, to go out and collect data of the water from everywhere around the Bothnian Bay, at all times. Satellite remote sensing offers a cost-efficient method to get information of the water quality, which we needed to model and make maps of the area. The satellites in space take pictures of the water when they pass over the Bothnian Bay. By analysing the pictures we can gather information on water quality.
Harmonisation of management, definitions and ecosystem values
Plants and animals of the Bothnian Bay recognize no border, neither does the seafloor stop existing outside of one country’s territory. Coordinating the management of the marine area thus becomes crucial.
SEAmBOTH aims to create such a co-operation by harmonizing definitions, methodologies and by creating a good, shared basis for planning in the marine area. How do we value nature? What do we value? How do we define Natura 2000 habitats? How does Sweden and Finland work with the marine environment, for example with protected areas? What are the similarities and the differences? What can we learn from each other? These are some of the questions that will be investigated during the project throughout workshops with managers and national experts from both countries.
Marine and urban planners, managers of the municipalities, environmental inspectors, conservation and environmental monitoring experts are some of the people from the public sector that may have large influence on the environment of the Bothnian Bay.
Modelling and creation of maps
With existing and the collected data of the geology, biology and the water qualities of the Bothnian Bay we produce maps of the marine environment. This is done by using computer modelling techniques and GIS-analyses. According to the results of the workshops and the needs of the end-users of the public sector, the maps and guidelines are made in an easy-to-use format.
The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) together with Metsähallitus, the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) and the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten are responsible for the production of the maps.