Climate emergency, the Mediterranean Sea has become hot: temperatures 4 degrees above average

The temperature of the mar Mediterranean: from the May 10in fact, the sea is hit by a wave of heat it has raised up the surface temperature of approx 4 degrees compared to the average of the 1985-2005 period, with peaks above 23 degrees. These are the first results of CareHeatthe project financed byEuropean space agency which also participate among others Aeneas And Cnr. The aim of the work is to develop new methodologies aimed at predicting and identifying heat waves in order to then be able to understand their propagation and impacts on the environment, biodiversity and on some economic activities, such as fishing and aquaculture.

“With the term heat waves, in English Marine Heat Waves (Mhw), we mean situations in which the difference between the actual sea surface temperature and the expected climatological value for that particular region and in that specific period of the year, exceeds a critical threshold for at least 5 days “, he explained Salvatore Marullo from Aeneas, climate and impact modeling laboratory. “The research activities – he specified – began with the study of the heat wave that currently affects the Mediterranean Sea, starting from the analysis of the satellite data available with values ​​comparable to the heat wave of 2003. Up to now also the first half of June was characterized by meteorological situations typical of the more advanced phases of the summer season “.

After a description of the state of the art on the detection of the so-called Mhw, the project aims to define the current knowledge gaps and the methods proposed for overcoming them. The work also takes into account climate variability and forcing weather events, i.e. heat waves in the atmosphere produced by favorable weather conditions. Then, the numerical models and the data coming from the automatic profilers of physical and biochemical parameters (Argon And Bioargo) operating in the Mediterranean, will help to assess the impact of this thermal anomaly in the deepest layers of the sea and therefore on a marine ecosystem struggling with the difficulties associated with a rapid change in temperature.

“Understanding what is happening to the current climate is increasingly important because changes begin to have a concrete impact on everyday life, on economic activities and on the individual citizen, up to the worsening of migratory phenomena”, highlights Gianmaria Sannino, in charge of Aeneas. “So – he adds – it is appropriate to quantitatively define the phenomena in progress to understand their causes and predict their developments, and then focus on the oceans that cover about 70% of the earth’s surface and plan ecosystem services together with sustainable development”.

As part of the project, starting from July, the researchers will start the phase that involves the use of the most advanced models, including those based on neural networks in order to automatically identify the Mhw, evaluate their impact on marine ecosystem and define the very concept of heat wave in the current context of global warming. The study will begin with the analysis of main events by areas of interest, also considering the needs of users who will be able to take advantage of the results of this research. For this purpose, the operators of the sector (fish farming, fishing and marine protected areas) answered a questionnaire aimed also at modulating the objectives of the project. In addition to Enea and Cnr, they participate in the project CareHeatfinanced by Hex as part of the European Commission’s “flagship actions”, the French research institutes Cls (Collect Locatisation Satellites) e Ifremer (Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer) and non-profit organizations Mercator Ocean International (France) e + Atlantic CoLab (Portugal).

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