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Lars Sonesten

Lars Sonesten
I am a limnologist and ecotoxicologist working mainly with water chemistry and biology in inland waters. I am also working with the inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances to the Sea.


  • Head of the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
  • Director of the commissariat for the SLU Soil-Water-Environment Centre
  • SLU representative, Steering Committee of the Swedish Environmental Emissions Data (chairman 2010, 2014, 2015, 2023) (SMED)
  • NJ Faculty respresentative, Steering committee of SLU Data Management Support (DMS)
  • Chairman of HELCOM working group Source-to-Sea with responsability on the work on waterbourne and atmospheric loads of nutrients and hazardous substances to the Baltic Sea, and the follow-up of national progress towards reaching BSAP nutrient reduction targets as well as the water quality of the Baltic Sea
  • Chairman of OSPAR INPUT, the OSPAR expert group on waterbourne and atmospheric inputs to the North Atlantic ocean
  • Member of the UN Pool of Experts for the 3rd United Nations World Ocean Assessment
  • Member of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) Environmental Research Council


  • Lecturer in Ecotoxicology at the SLU courses in Contaminated soils and Envrionmental Assessment


My present work is mainly focused on:

  • Assessments of long-term trends in water chemistry and biological composition, and food web interactions (including fatty acids as tracer substances) in lakes and watercourses.
  • Nutrient cycling and source apportionment in aquatic systems and watersheds.
  • Load of nutrients and hazardous substances to the Sea.
  • Risk assessment of heavy metals and organic environmental pollutants in freshwaters, biota, and sediments.

Environmental analysis

Ongoing projects

  • Estimates of the annual Swedish emissions of nutrients and other substances to the Baltic Sea, and the Northeast Atlantic Ocean.
  • Assessments of the methodology for estimating the riverine and diffuse nutrient load on the Sea.
  • Evaluation of water chemistry and biological composition in regional monitoring programs.
  • The HELCOM PLC 7 reporting (Pollution Load Compilation no 7) including revision of reporting routines and responsability for the assessment of the inputs of hazardous substances.
  • Participates in two HELCOM projects, HELCOM Action (nutrients) and HELCOM SoM (other pressures), assessing if  launched and planned remedial measures are sufficient to fulfil the goals in the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP).
  • Assessing the world oceans with focus on inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances to the Baltic Sea and the Norteast Atlantic Ocean in the 3rd UN World Oceans Assessment.


  • PhD in Limnology, Uppsala University 2000
  • MSc in Ecotoxicology, Uppsala University 1989
  • BSc  in Biology, Uppsala University 1987


Former students

  • Pianpian Wu, Ph.D.: Methylmercury in boreal freshwater food webs. No 2017:75.
  • Robert Weimer , Ph.Lic. Fil.lic. Temporal and spatial variation of radiocaesium in moose (Alces alces) following the Chernobyl fallout in Sweden. eISBN 978-91-576-9342-6 
  • Steffi Gottschalk, Ph.D.: Benthic diatoms in lakes: environmental drivers and ecological assessment. No 2014:47.
  • Karin Eklöf, Ph.D.: Effects of stump harvesting and site preparation on mercury mobilization and methylation. No 2012:76.
  • Maria Kahlili, Ph.D.: Macronutrient cycling in surface waters - large-scale patterns and assessment of global change. No 2012:10.
  • Ida Jansson, Undergraduate student, Miljömärkning av fisk; gör det någon skillnad? (Eco-labelled fish; does it matter?).
  • Linda Johansson, B.Sc.: Salinity effects on cadmium concentrations in blue mussels in the Baltic Sea.  
  • Eva Kvernes, M.Sc.: Bromated flame retardants (PBDE) in fish and sediments. SLU, Department of Aquatic Sciences and assessment, Report 2003:06 (in Swedish).
  • Jenny Öhlander, M.Sc.: Sediment toxicity in River Kolbäcksån – toxicity tests with Chironomus riparius and Gammarus pulex. SLU, Department of Aquatic Sciences and assessment, Report 2003:05 (in Swedish).

Selected publications

Devlin M.J., et al. 2023. A first ecological coherent assessment of eutrophication across the North-East Atlantic waters (2015–2020). Front. Ocean Sustain., Sec. Marine Pollution Assessments and Solutions
Volume 1 - 2023 |

Svendsen L.M. et al. 2022. Pollution load on the Baltic Sea. Summary of the HELCOM Seventh Pollution Load Compilation (PLC-7). HELCOM, Helsinki.

MALONE T.C. et al 2021. Changes in nutrient inputs to the marine environment. Chapter 10 in United Nations The 2nd World Oceans Assessment.

EBINGHAUS R. et al 2021. Changes in liquid and atmospheric inputs to the marine environment from land (including through groundwater), ships and offshore installations. Chapter 11 in United Nations The 2nd World Oceans Assessment.

WU, P., KAINZ, M.J., BRAVO, A.G., ÅKERBLOM S., SONESTEN, L. and BISHOP K. 2018. The importance of bioconcentration into the pelagic food web base for methylmercury biomagnification: A meta-analysis. Accepted for publ. in Science of The Total Environment. DOI: (Open Access)

ÅKERBLOM S., BIGNERT A., MEILI M., SONESTEN L. and SUNDBOM M. 2014. Half a century of changing mercury levels in Swedish freshwater fish. Ambio 43:91-103 .

SONESTEN L. 2013. Miljöövervakningen av Sveriges sjöar och vattendrag - Representativiteten av den kontrollerande miljöövervakningen (The environmental monitoring av Swedish lakes and watercourses - The representativeness of the monitoring, In Swedish). Havs- och vattenmyndigheten Rapport 2013:9 .

SONESTEN L., et al. 2013. Mälaren - Tillståndsutvecklingen 1965-2011 (The development of Lake Mälaren 1965-2011, In Swedish). SLU, Institutionen för vatten och miljö, Rapport 2013:1 .

BRINGMARK E., BRINGMARK L., SONESTEN L., MJÖFORS K. and JOHANSSON M-L. 2011. Long-Term Monitoring of Scots Pine Litter Decomposition Rates Throughout Sweden Indicates Formation of a More Recalcitrant Litter in the South. Ambio 40:878-890. DOI: 10.1007/s13280-011-0202-0

SONESTEN, L. 2003. Fish mercury levels in lakes – adjusting for Hg and fish-size covariation. Environmental Pollution 125:255-265. DOI: 10.1016/S0269-7491(03)00051-4

FONTICIELLA, D.W. and SONESTEN, L. 2000. Tilapia aquaculture in Cuba. Pages 184–203 In: Costa-Pierce, B.A. and Rakocy, J.E. (Eds.) Tilapia Aquaculture in the Americas, Volume Two . The World Aquaculture Society, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA


Head of department, Researcher at the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment; Division of Geochemistry and Hydrology
Telephone: +4618673007
Postal address:
Institutionen för vatten och miljö, Box 7050
Visiting address: Lennart Hjelms väg 9, Uppsala