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Temperature and salt levels of Western Mediterranean on the increase, Spanish researchers find

Date:
May 21, 2010
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Scientists in Spain have analyzed the temperature and salt levels of the Western Mediterranean Sea between 1943 and 2000 to study the evolution of each variable. Their research shows that, since at least the 1940s, the deep water has become progressively hotter and saltier, and that, since the 1990s, this process has accelerated.
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Scientists have used a rosette sampler has a probe to measure temperature and salinity of the sea from the surface to the seabed. Also collected are water samples that are then analyzed in the laboratory.
Credit: Photo by Manuel Vargas-Yáñez

Spanish scientists have analysed the temperature and salt levels of the Western Mediterranean Sea between 1943 and 2000 to study the evolution of each variable. Their research shows that, since at least the 1940s, the deep water has become progressively hotter and saltier, and that, since the 1990s, this process has accelerated.

Each year the temperature of the deep layer of the Western Mediterranean increases by 0.002ºC, and its salt levels increase by 0.001 units of salinity. These changes, although minimal from year to year, have been continuously and constantly occurring at a faster pace since the 1990s.

The results are consistent, "but to confirm this accelerating trend, we need to monitor it over the years to come," says Manuel Vargas-Yáñez, main author of the study and researcher at the Oceanic Centre of Malaga of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO).

In their study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, the researchers analysed the temperature and salt levels of the three layers of the Mediterranean Sea: the upper layer (from the surface to 150-200 metres deep with water that enters from the Atlantic), the middle layer (from 200 to 600 metres deep with water from the eastern Mediterranean that enters the western basin via the Strait of Sicily), and the deep layer (from 600 metres to the sea bed with water from the western Mediterranean).

"These layers, especially the deep one, take up a huge volume, and raising its temperature each year by one thousandth of a degree requires an enormous amount of heat," the researcher points out.

The team has also observed an increase in the salt level and the temperature of the middle layer of the sea. This has not been clearly observed in the upper layer, "but it can be deduced from the heating of the deep water and from studies done by other teams and our current research projects," Vargas-Yáñez states.

Need to monitor the sea

The research team compiled the data about temperature and salt levels by means of the MEDATLAS (Mediterranean Hydrographic Atlas) database, and using the IEO monitoring programmes. All the data were collected from the Alboran Sea, the Catalan-Balearic Sea, the Gulf of Lion, the Ligurian Sea, the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Algerian Basin, between 1943 and 2000.

"We need to support the networks that already exist and build new ones to monitor the sea. Only then will we be able to detect, in a reliable and effective way, the changes taking place in the sea," Vargas-Yáñez concludes.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Manuel Vargas-Yáñez, Patricia Zunino, Ayoub Benali, Michael Delpy, Flora Pastre, Francina Moya, Maria del Carmen García-Martínez, Elena Tel. How much is the western Mediterranean really warming and salting? Journal of Geophysical Research, 2010; 115 (C4): C04001 DOI: 10.1029/2009JC005816

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Temperature and salt levels of Western Mediterranean on the increase, Spanish researchers find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100521092632.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2010, May 21). Temperature and salt levels of Western Mediterranean on the increase, Spanish researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100521092632.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Temperature and salt levels of Western Mediterranean on the increase, Spanish researchers find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100521092632.htm (accessed May 28, 2015).

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