To many people, the Baltic Sea is a sea of significance. It lies in northern Europe in a strategic location that is surrounded by nine countries. These include Poland, Germany, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Estonia, and Germany.
The geographic significance of the Baltic Sea is also due to its origin in the North Atlantic Ocean. It extends northward and marks a line of distinction for the Scandinavian Peninsula from the remainder of continental Europe.
Whether you consider the location of the Baltic Sea or its other aspects, many facts come together to make it amazing. Here’s a list of some such aspects that put it on the world map as a prominent marine water body.
1. Baltic Sea has a marked seasonality
The Baltic Sea has a typical climate which is also popular as the Baltic climate. It shows a marked seasonality characterized by cold winters that are long and warm summers that are relatively shorter. The extreme temperatures between the two seasons range between − 10 °C and 17 °C.
Another remarkable feature of the Baltic climate is its nature to keep varying from time to time. While sometimes it shows the influence of mild maritime weather, it also shows the influence of the continental climate at other times.
The precipitation depends upon the type of climate at a given point in time. Depending on the type of weather, it may range somewhere between 20 and 24 inches. That is to say, in a year, it may range somewhere between 500 mm and 600 mm.
For most of the year, the weather remains cloudy. Fog surfaces in the spring season, whereas a sea breeze blows in the summer.
2. Baltic Sea has remarkably fresh water
The Baltic Sea has a shallow outlet as it is almost surrounded by land on all sides. The Oder and the Vistula are two prominent rivers that meet with it. These rivers are long and have the influence of a temperate continental climate. As a result, they have a slower rate of evaporation. This explains why both rivers have a slower rate of evaporation.
Speaking of the salinity of the Baltic Sea, the western Baltic records the highest salinity. On the other water of the Gulf of Bothnia is the least saline. The top portion records about one-third of the average salinity of the sea.
The lesser concentration of salt in the seawater is also reflected in the hydrology of the Baltic Sea. Due to low salinity, the Sea gathers ice on the Gulf of Bothnia, especially in the winter season. The pack-ice resulting from it attains a height of 50 feet. Also, the lesser concentration of salt in the seawater plays a crucial role in the formation of drift ice, particularly in the northern region of the Aland Islands.
Normally, navigation becomes difficult in regions with ice packs or drift ice. However, in contrast, navigation is easy in various regions in Finland wherein the formation of ice takes place. Though severe winters pose a problem in navigation in these areas, it remains simple and easy for most of the year.
3. The Baltic remains untouched from the influence of tidal currents
It may sound a bit strange but the Baltic, despite a considerable outflow of seawater, doesn’t show much influence of tidal currents. One possible reason for it is the flow of saltwater with a higher density and strong countercurrent. This flow is visible specifically into the North Sea.
That said, the southern shores of the Baltic do experience northeasterly winds that are strong. These strong winds result in high waves along the southern shores of the Baltic and lead to the flooding of the shores.
On the other hand, the southwesterly leads to the creation of dunes. Such dunes of sand are visible on the coasts of Germany and Poland. Also, they are responsible for the presence of a large volume of water in the northern Baltic.
4. The northern coast of the Baltic shows contrasting features compared to its southern coast
The coasts in countries such as Finland and Sweden are rocky and do not have an even surface. The coasts of the Southern Baltic, on the other hand, have a flat surface that lacks a definite feature.
One of the highlights of the Baltic is its coastal features that are more prominent in eastern Denmark. These features have resulted from glaciation that had taken place in the Pleistocene era. While the eastern part is low-lying, the southern part has shallow bays.
5. The Baltic Sea is relatively younger in comparison to other seas
When it comes to seas, most people believe they represent older water bodies. As such, the time of its formation comes under the spotlight. In this regard, the Baltic isn’t too old. Other seas formed much earlier than it.
Its formation happened around 10,000 years ago and as such, most people believe it is relatively younger than other seas. They believe 10,000 years is a relatively shorter time than the formation of other seas. Many shallow inlets, coupled with a broken coastline, characterize the Danish islands.
6. The Baltic Sea was a sea of economic significance in the past
Though it does not showcase major economic significance at present, the Baltic Sea has been vital from the standpoint of economic aspects in the region around it. In the middle ages, it breathed life to trade by connecting ports with one another. It used to be the main point of communication for trade and commerce in the middle ages.
From sea fishes to ropes and other forest products, traders used to exchange different items through the ports connected by the Baltic Sea.
However, this has changed a lot after the emergence of the Kiel Canal. Constructed in the latter part of the 19th century, it assumed prominence in the trade and commerce of the region. Also, the construction of highways and the betterment of the railway network has been responsible for the reduced dependence on trade and commerce on the Baltic Sea.
7. Fishing and exploration of hydrocarbons are as much popular in the Baltic as the other aspects of the sea
Fishing may not appear to be the most prominent feature of the Baltic Sea on the surface. However, this does not make its importance any less popular. The main types of fish include shellfish, salmon, eel, sprats, cod, and herring.
To make fishing more prominent and straightforward for those people who rely on it for livelihood, the Baltic fishing regions have been put under four fishing zones. Kattegat’s southern sector holds the majority of the share for fishing. In other words, this region makes more contribution compared to other Baltic regions in fishing.
Just like fishing regions, there also exists some segregation among the sea beds of Baltic countries. Also, the exploration of hydrocarbons elevates the significance of the Baltic region. Such projects are visible on the eastern shores.
8. The Baltic is a major spot for tourism that attracts several tourists every year
The Baltic coast had been a popular tourist spot for ages. However, its essence has come under the spotlight only in the last few decades. The unusual charm of seaside towns and white sand beaches gives a sense of relief to the eye at the first sight.
For a change, these aspects allow tourists to relax their mood and rejuvenate themselves when they visit the Baltic coast on a vacation. Visitors generally come here to spend some moments of quietude from the hassle and bustle of city life. The coast of the Baltic doesn’t disappoint them in this regard.
9. The Baltic Sea shares a close relationship with both the World Wars
World War I and World War II are the two major wars fought in human history with many nations as its players, either directly or indirectly. The Baltic Sea is linked to both these wars.
The majority of wars of World War I were fought on this sea. Germany occupied the Baltic States and Poland, including the eastern shore in World War II. Thus, it has been a witness to both wars.
The freshness of the waters of the Baltic Sea got polluted during World War II. With that said, there has also been a major improvement in the level of freshness of water since.
10. The Baltic Sea houses freshwater as well as marine fauna
Generally, freshwater and marine wildlife thrive in their respective environments or habitats. But some habitable zones support both these forms of life in a single atmosphere. The Baltic Sea is one among them.
Many rivers, including the major ones, flow into the Baltic Sea. This is responsible for bringing fresh water organisms into it.
The presence of life forms from both freshwater and marine water environments is a hallmark feature of the Baltic Sea. It draws the attention of environmentalists and other curious people towards the water. The less density of salt, which is primarily responsible for creating a conducive environment for freshwater wildlife, also leads to the accumulation of ice-caps.
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Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.