Law and Effect
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
2. The Baltic Sea Hermanni Backer with Joseph F.C. DiMento and Alexis Jaclyn Hickman PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS The Baltic Sea1 is a semi-enclosed sea in Northern Europe, connected in its western extremity to the Atlantic Ocean. It is well defined geographically; the only connection is provided by three narrow, and shallow, straits between Danish islands and Sweden. These straits limit major water exchange with the ocean to saline deep-water inflows, and balancing surface outflows, during westerly winter storms. The sea consists of a series of deeper basins with shallow areas between. The enclosed form has provided a natural framework for international cooperation around this northern “Mare Nostrum” of the coastal nations. The Baltic has a total area similar to that of the Black and Caspian Seas.2 With the Danish straits the sea covers an area of 392 978 square kilometers and the basin of Kattegat, north of the straits, adds an additional 22 287 square kilometers.3 The main basins include The Baltic Proper in the south, The Gulf of Bothnia in the north and the gulfs of Riga and Finland in the east. Although deep spots exist, including the deepest point Gotland at a depth of 459 meters, a characteristic feature of the sea is its shallowness. The average depth is around 50 meters and more than half of the area is less. This results in a small total volume of water. The coasts along the south-eastern parts tend to be sandy beaches 1 The first to use the name Mare...
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