Introduction:

In order to describe the properties of the Baltic Sea and to develop analyses of this ecosystem, the data that are available for this ecosystem should be utilized efficiently. The Baltic Environmental Database - BED - was initiated in 1990 as part of a research project 'Large-scale Environmental Effects and Ecological Processes in the Baltic Sea' financed by the Swedish Environmental Agency.For details see Wulff, F. & L. Rahm. 1990. A database and its tools. In: Wulff, F. 1990. Large-scale environmental effects and ecological processes in the Baltic Sea : research programme for the period 1990-1995 and background documents. Rapport /Naturvårdsverket: 225 p. The basic idea has been to make available data set on the conditions in the Baltic Sea and on forcing functions so that budget and models of the physics and biogeochemical cycles of organic matter and nutrients can be developed.

This was physically implemented by the Marine Ecosystem Modelling Group at the Department of Systems Ecology at the Stockholm University. The objective was to have a database that could be replicated and used by other Institutions as well. That would make it practical to perform calculations of total amounts of nutrients, nutrient budgets and trend analysis. Presently, the database is placed at the Baltic Nest Institute (BNI). The Baltic Nest Institute is a research institute that since January 1, 2013 is part of the Stockholm University's Baltic Sea Centre, Sweden; in Denmark at the the former National Environmental Research Institute (NERI) now the DCE - Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, Aarhus University at Roskilde, National Institute of Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU-Aqua) and Danish Technical University. and in Finland at the Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE.

For this purpose, pc-computers and a relational database program (Paradox) are used for storing and accessing the information. Scientists that participate in the project are able to send or receive data on diskettes or by E-mail in PC or MacIntosh formats. Tools for accessing BED via Internet, perform calculations and visualization of data have been developed, see Das and Nest - an information environment for decision support system. These tools access the remote database are managed by the Firebird relational database management system (DBMS)(http://firebird.sourceforge.net) based on the source code of the InterBase DBMS released by Borland Software Corp.

The development and maintenance of BED is part of the BNI core activities funded by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management through their grant 1:11 - Measures for marine and water environment. The database is under constant development and updating and plays a central role for the groups international research activities. It plays a central role in many projects.

The Gulf of Riga Project (An environmental research program of the Baltic Sea region, focused on the Gulf of Riga. Scientists from all Nordic countries cooperated with colleges in Estonia and Latvia on describing the environmental status and to develop mass-balances on eutrophying and toxic substances for the Gulf. This was funded in 1993-1997 by The Nordic Council of Ministers (NMR). An important goal was to set up identical computer systems and environmental databases in Stockholm, Riga and Tallinn. The aim was to make existing historical data sets available for all the participants of the subprojects and to serve as a common database and center for data exchange of new information collected during the five-year study period (1993-97).  The database played an important role in  the frame of BASYS -Baltic Sea System Study Project in the years 1996 to 1999, coordinated by IOW - Baltic Sea Research Institute, Warnemuende,Germany.  Stockholm University's Baltic Sea Centre contributes in different ways to a series of publications with results from the Environmental Monitoring Program for the Marine Environment where the database has been an important  tool in several ocassions. Water and Nutrient Budgets of the Gulf of Riga and the Gulf of Gdansk were developed in the frame of LOICZ Biogeochemical Modelling Core Research. LOICZ is the former Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone Project (now Future Earth Coasts) of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme: A study of Global Change (IGBP) of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

The database also played an important role in MARE (Marine Research on Eutrophication), a programme to develop the scientific base for cost-effective measures to reduce eutrophication in the Baltic. The database has been an important tool in the frame of CHARM. More recently, the database has been an important component in several projects, some of them completed and other ongoing.