Is the Mediterranean Sea running out of steam?
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Last June, the 10th oceanographic campaign of the MOOSE network took place in the Mediterranean Sea. For more than a decade, the LOCEAN laboratory, the marine stations of Roscoff, Banyuls, Villefranche-sur-mer of Sorbonne University, the MIO laboratory and CEFREM have been involved in this Mediterranean Ocean Observing System for the Environment financed by CNRS-INSU and the ILICO Research Infrastructure. A unique integrated and multidisciplinary network in charge of observing and understanding, in a sustainable way, the evolution of a Mediterranean basin undergoing major consequences of climate change and human activities.
The Mediterranean, in the “spotlight” for global marine biodiversity and climate change
Spanning more than 24 countries and territories in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, the Mediterranean Sea is the largest semi-enclosed sea in the world. With its 46,000 km of coastline, it is subject to strong and increasing human pressure, generated by the activity of 150 million inhabitants and the influx of 200 million tourists annually, the consequences of which are uncontrolled: urbanisation, tourism, maritime traffic, pollution and overexploitation of resources in particular.
From a hydrographic point of view, its quasi-enclosed sea and its geographical position make it one of the saltiest seas in the world, with higher than normal evaporation of its waters due to its climate. The Mediterranean is also a sea with a fast thermohaline circulation (10 times faster than the global ocean) that is warming much faster than normal, with for example a 1°C increase over 30 years for the surface temperature. As a result, sea level rise is predicted to exceed one metre by 2100.
The north-western part of the Mediterranean basin, bounded by the Ligurian Sea, the Gulf of Lion and the Provençal basin, is particularly dynamic and responds rapidly and amplified to climate change and its multiple consequences: The long-term observation of the evolution of the hydrological balance of this north-western Mediterranean basin is therefore crucial to better understand it and to be able to predict the global impacts of climate change.
MOOSE, a unique network for the observation of the north-western Mediterranean basin
Dotted with numerous islands and underwater banks, the Mediterranean is also one of the major reservoirs of marine and coastal biodiversity. Although it represents only 1% of the planet’s waters, it is home to more than 10,000 marine species, with 28% of endemic species, 7.5% of the world’s fauna and 18% of its marine flora.
Throughout the Mediterranean basin, exacerbated climate change combined with excessive anthropogenic pressure is having disastrous consequences for all marine biodiversity. The extent of the changes in fish species and key habitats is widely observed; the disappearance of certain unique Mediterranean species such as endemic Posidonia meadows or gorgonian corals threatens the entire marine ecosystem.
It is in this context that since 2010, an integrated and multidisciplinary network has been initiated in the North-Western Mediterranean under the aegis of the CNRS and the MISTRALS programme. The MOOSE (Mediterranean Ocean Observing System for the Environment) network is a regional network installed from the coast to the open sea, with a multi-site and multi-platform approach: fixed platforms such as CTD stations or instrumented moorings, mobile platforms such as gliders or Argo profiling floats.
Each network monitoring allows the collection of multiple and varied data :
- Coastal data associated with river inputs and atmospheric deposition ;
- Physical, chemical and biological marine data for monitoring biological communities, biodiversity, hydrodynamic and biogeochemical processes.
In June 2021, the 10th campaign of the MOOSE network took place on board the oceanographic vessel Thalassa of the French Oceanographic Fleet (FOF), which left from the port of La Seyne-sur-Mer. The north-western Mediterranean basin was criss-crossed for 24 days, resulting in 125 observation stations and the maintenance of 4 moorings.
Real-time and delayed-time data streams are accumulating decade after decade. They are essential to facilitate the validation of operational oceanographic models and to enable analysis and forecasting.
The establishment of scenarios of climate and ecosystem evolution in the Mediterranean is the key to exploring the future evolution of the Mediterranean in the face of climate change and anthropogenic pressures. In the long term, solutions must be found for the adaptation and resilience of human populations and marine species.
As part of a European cooperation approach, the MOOSE project largely shares its scientific purposes with similar observatories deployed in Spain, Italy and Greece. The coordination of these observatories at the European level and their extension to other key areas such as the South and East of the Mediterranean Basin are the challenges of the future in order to have data allowing a global vision of the Mediterranean.
British scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton and Scottish scientists from SAMS (Scottish Association for Marine Science) in Oban have embarked on a new expedition to the North Atlantic.
The RESILIENCE campaign is the site of an important innovation as for the first time, the Marion Dufresne is taking on board a floating university for the 35 days at sea. 21 Master's students from the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, the Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale, the Université Côte d'Azur, and the Nelson Mandela University (South Africa) will be supervised to experience life-size scientific work and experimental manipulations.
The RESILIENCE oceanographic campaign, led by Jean-François Ternon, a researcher from the IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) and his partners, left Reunion Island on 19 April 2022 and reached the south-western Indian Ocean for 35 days at sea. On board the Marion Dufresne, the legendary ship of the French Oceanographic Fleet, seventy international scientists embarked to better understand the interactions between physics and biology on a small scale in the particular ocean structures of the Mozambique Channel.
A collective human adventure, an exceptional amount of data collected and the beginnings of a science of the sea concerned with its environmental impact: this is how we can sum up the success of this 2022 edition of the 32nd PIRATA oceanographic campaign.
A unique sailing boat, an international low-carbon campaign, that is a world first: it was under these favourable winds that the French sailing boat Blue Observer returned to the port of Brest in March after 96 days at sea in the North and South Atlantic.
More than 28 days since the departure, and the tiredness can be read on all faces. The scientists of the PIRATA-FR32 campaign have not had a single minute to keep a logbook or to send us some "live" news...it doesn't matter: the focus is on watches and measurements!
For several days now, the 14 scientists have been sailing for the 32nd edition of the oceanographic programme PIRATA ("Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic"). From the ship "Thalassa" of the French Oceanographic Fleet on which they have embarked, they gave us some news about their journey.
For the 25th consecutive year of the programme, the PIRATA oceanographic campaign left the port of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands on 28 February 2022.
In the spring of 2021 and despite a still complicated health context, scientists spent 42 days criss-crossing the South Atlantic Ocean with the aim of quantifying the most important marine current in the ocean circulation and climate system of our planet.
One of the scientific objectives of the SWINGS campaign was to understand the evolution and development of phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean.
48 sailors on board and 2 months at sea to collect, sample and filter water, with this main objective: to understand how the ocean helps regulate the climate by absorbing atmospheric CO2.
In his programme "La Terre au Carré" on France Inter, Mathieu Vidard looks back at the SWINGS expedition.
Leaving Reunion Island in January 2021, they have been together at the helm of the SWINGS mission for 8 weeks in the heart of the Southern Ocean.
For 8 weeks, 48 scientists and crew members crossed part of the Indian Ocean, passing through the Marion, Crozet, Heard and Kerguelen islands, before returning to Reunion Island 57 days later.
This year, 12 scientists and 25 crew members embarked on the 31st mission of the PIRATA oceanographic programme from the port of Brest (France) instead of the usual port since 2015 of Mindelo (Cape Verde), due to the pandemic.
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