Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission


​Extended phase of making HELCOM Eutrophication assessments operational (HELCOM EUTRO-OPER EXTENDED), 2016

The EUTRO OPER EXTENDED project was established in 2016 to continue the work started in EUTRO OPER project and to contribute to the work of the HELCOM Intersession Network on Eutrophication (IN Eutrophication) according to the agreed Terms of Reference and work plan.


The two-year project on ‘Making HELCOM Eutrophication assessments operational (HELCOM EUTRO-OPER)’ was finalized in 2015. During this time, the project developed an operationalized work flow for updating the eutrophication indicators and assessment. Four out of the five existing HELCOM CORE indicators of eutrophication were included into the process algorithms. The complex oxygen debt indicator, developed by the TARGREV project, could not be included without additional expertise and funding within the EUTRO-OPER timeframe. This indicator, however, has been seen useful to be updated for HOLAS II.

EUTRO-OPER developed six PRECORE or candidate indicators of eutrophication. Of these, the cyanobacterial bloom and the shallow water oxygen indicators could be updated to CORE status with reasonable expenses striving to be in time for them to be included to the HOLAS II. The cyanobacterial bloom indicator requires testing and developing for combining it with the existing environment fact sheet on cyanobacteria biomass. The shallow water oxygen indicator approach should be determined through testing existing procedures and boundaries.

HELCOM HOD 49-2015 welcomed the outcome of the EUTRO-OPER project and took note that the pre-core (candidate) indicators investigated and developed by EUTRO-OPER will not be finalized by end of the project and that in order to finalize them Lead Countries are needed to ensure their continued development as well as resources for modelling to develop GES-boundaries for three of the indicators. The Meeting noted the view of Finland, Germany and Sweden to continue the project in 2016 with support of a part-time project manager. The Meeting agreed to continue the project for a limited period and welcomed the offer by Germany to contribute to the work financially.

The project activities will contribute to the work of the International Network on Eutrophication according to the agreed Terms of Reference and the work plan.


1. Operationalizing the oxygen debt indicator as part of the eutrophication assessment work flow

  • Algorithms need to be developed for update of the HELCOM CORE indicator oxygen debt, which was developed by the HELCOM TARGREV project.

2. Finalizing HELCOM pre-core / candidate eutrophication indicators (in cooperation with Lead countries)

  • Further develop the cyanobacterial bloom indicator taking the PEG cyanobacteria biomass factsheet into account
  • Test and develop the shallow water oxygen indicator

3. To make HEAT 3.0 ready for the use for HOLAS II

  • to further develop HEAT 3.0 to be able to incorporate the new core indicators
  • to adjust the tool to the requirements of the revised Commission Decision

4. Management and coordination to support the tasks above and to support the commencing of IN-Eutrophication regarding the tasks in the work plan

Expected results

The project will include the oxygen debt CORE indicator into the eutrophication assessment work flow. The indicator procedure developed by the TARGREV project (Århus University) will be translated from SAS-language into R-based algorithms that work in connection with the ICES database, as the other new eutrophication assessment algorithms. As a result, the project will deliver an updated work flow with the core indicators fully operational, to be used in the HOLAS II project for updating the eutrophication assessment in 2017.

The project will finalize the eutrophication PRE-CORE indicator on cyanobacterial blooms and the candidate indicator on shallow water oxygen. For the former, the present approach will be developed further to include the cyanobacteria biomass indicator, applying data already provided by the PEG group. The existing methodologies for determining shallow water oxygen status will be tested and developed further in order to determine a common approach, using data from testing sites provided by ICES and the Contracting Parties.The project will further develop HEAT 3.0 in order to update it for HOLAS II. This involves updates necessary for including the new CORE indicators developed under the project into the assessment, eg. determining indicator weights and possible correction factors. In addition, possible adjustments resulting from the revision of the Commission Decision will be made and proposed. Where appropriate, the project will take advantage of tool development under the BOOST project, and adjust these to serve the purpose of assessing eutrophication.


Making HELCOM Eutrophication Assessments Operational (HELCOM EUTRO-OPER), 2014-2015

The ‘Project on making HELCOM eutrophication assessments operational (EUTRO-OPER)’ aimed toward a regularly updated high-quality thematic assessment of eutrophication status, produced through an operational and streamlined process. It was a continuation to the CORE EUTRO process, stemming from the EUTRO-, EUTRO PRO- and TARGREV projects, which have since 2005 developed the HELCOM core set of eutrophication indicators, with boundaries of good environmental status and assessment methodology, ending up in the latest update of eutrophication status in the Baltic Sea in 2007-2011.

The EUTRO-OPER project piloted the production of assessment products through efficient data flow processes. During the project, the entire assessment process, from monitoring and data aggregation to assessment calculation, was defined and documented, together with the protocols as well as responsibilities of QA/QC guidance and review. The project continued to improve the quality of the existing eutrophication status core indicators through enabling use of remote sensing and ship-of-opportunity data.  Gaps in the present set of core indicator were investicated and new indicators were proposed. In addition, steps toward coordination of harmonizing the coastal and open sea eutrophication assessment were taken.

Main outcomes

1. Fully operational eutrophication assessment work flow with documented review process.

2. Four new pre-core and two new candidate indicators of eutrophication.

3. Proposal for approach for including new data types with high spatial or temporal resolution into the update of core indicators, with implementation on the update of chlorophyll-a using both in-situ and satellite data.

4. Proposal for including satellite based earth observation data (EO-data) in the update of the chlorophyll-a indicator.

5. Proposal for improved harmonization of coastal and open-sea assessments, through testing and implementing HEAT 3.0 for coastal assessment units and including coastal indicators into the assessment work flow.

6. Proposal for visualizing distance to target in the eutrophication assessment and eutrophication indicators.

7. Core indicator web-reports, updated for the 2007-2011 assessment.

8. Input to the HELCOM Monitoring Manual, through filling information on eutrophication-related monitoring parameters.


       EUTRO-OPER test assessment​
A dataview of the test assessment, including data and assessment products, together with transparent documentation of review process.

A concise manual explaining the processes and protocols of the assessment work flow, to be used by experts taking part in producing the assessment as well as any party interested in learning about the assessment methodology in more detail.

A description of project activities and results, to inform about the work conducted in the project and to provide background for the continuation of the eutrophication assessment work.

Project duration

January 2014 – December 2015

Project participants

Hermanni Kaartokallio, Chair of Meetings, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Finland

Stig Eggert Pedersen, Danish Ministry of the Environment, Denmark

Inga Lips, Marine Systems Institute, Estonia

Nicolas Hoepffner, European Commission – Joint Research Center

Marina Carstens, State Agency for Environment, Nature Protection and Geology Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Wera Leujak, Federal Environment Agency, Germany

Günther Nausch, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW), Germany

Juris Aigars, Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology (LIAE), Latvia

Elżbieta Łysiak-Pastuszak, Institute of Meteorology and Water Management NRI, Poland
Wojciech Kraśniewski, Institute of Meteorology and Water Management NRI, Poland

Philip Axe, Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, Sweden

Karin Wesslander, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), Sweden

Vivi Fleming-Lehtinen, Project Manager, HELCOM Secretariat


​Pia Andersson, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) 

Saku Anttila, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

Jenni Attila, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

Kari Eilola, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI)

Seppo Kaitala, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

Joni Kaitaranta, HELCOM secretariat

Pirkko Kauppila, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

Hjalte Parner, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)

Stella-Theresa Stoicescu, Marine Systems Institute at Tallinn University of Technology (TUT MSI)

Iréne Wåhlström, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI)

Ulla Li Zweifel, HELCOM secretariat


We would like to thank Jesper Andersen, Lena Avellan, Jacob Carstensen, Mikael Hjort Jensen, Neil Holdsworth, Seppo Kaitala, Vesa Keto, Urmas Lips, Willem Stolte, Norbert Wassmund and Jens Würgler Hansen for their help and advice during the course of the project.

Project meetings

MeetingDateLocationMeeting site
EUTRO-OPER 1-201424-25 March 2014Helsinki, Finland
EUTRO-OPER 2-20147 May 2014On-line
EUTRO-OPER 3-20143 September 2014On-line
EUTRO-OPER 4-20149-11 February 2015Gdynia, Poland
EUTRO-OPER 5-20142 June 2015On-line
EUTRO-OPER 6-20148 September 2015On-line
EUTRO-OPER 7-201424-25 November 2015Gothenburg, Sweden

For more information, please contact: ​

Ulla Li Zweifel

Ms. Ulla Li Zweifel
Professional Secretary
(Gear WG, State and Conservation WG)
Tel: +358 46 850 9198 ​
Skype: helcom64