Leibniz MMS Days 2024 - Abstract

Gräwe, Ulf

Unticking ticking bombs - the fate of dumped munition in the western Baltic Sea

Our study addresses the ecological ramifications of 1.6million tons of WWII-era conventional munitions submerged in German coastal waters. As the shells deteriorate, the release of TNT into marine environments becomes a growing ecological hazard. We tackled this challenge by merging sparse TNT concentration data with a cutting-edge numerical coastal ocean model, enabling us to trace the distribution of these pollutants. Our approach involved deploying individual tracers for each documented and undocumented munition dumpsite. By synthesizing these tracer datasets and applying a global optimization framework, we effectively estimated TNT release rates from each site. This innovative methodology allowed for the comprehensive mapping of TNT concentrations across the western Baltic Sea, providing a foundational tool for prioritizing remediation efforts at the most critical dumpsites.