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Baltic Sea ice and environmental and societal implications from the comparative analysis of the Bay of Bothnia and the Gulf of Riga

Keywords: Baltic , sea ice , Systemic approach , Societies , Shipping , Risks

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Abstract:

This article contributes to many studies on sea ice often carried out by geophysicists and rarely by geographers. Thus, it aims to understand climatic and marine processes of ice formation and break-up of littoral waters and coastal sea, and their environmental, economic and societal consequences in the Baltic Sea. The interest of this research lies in the comparative analysis of two regions: the Bay of Bothnia and the Gulf of Riga. These two case studies are politically, economically and culturally different and help to understand the diversity of reactions and adaptations to the human management of the natural constraint imposed by sea ice phenomena. By using a systemic approach, quite common when studying geographical issues of nature and societies, the work has contributed to a better knowledge of the natural environment of Baltic Sea ice showing a significant interannual variability and a spatial internal diversity of sea ice conditions in the Baltic Sea. It also raises the questions of the environmental determinism which is rejected by the remarkable adaptability of coastal population. Finally, the socio-economic implications of historical changes of sea ice features are emphasized showing that future Baltic Sea ice conditions should be carefully considered when talking about global evolution.

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