Researchers have found that Mediterranean Sea warming and acidification is happening at unprecedented rates – the main reason, they believe, is emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which causes warming of the atmosphere and the ocean as well as acidification of its waters due to uptake of CO2 by surface waters.
300 million inhabitants and tourists of Mediterranean coastal societies rely on this ecosystem.
Mediterranean Sea Acidification in a changing climate (MedSeA) project involves 22 institutions from 12 countries. MedSeA focuses on the impacts of its seawater warming and acidification on important species and ecosystems of the region and how that may impact human society. Over 100 scientists from 12 countries involved in the study have pooled their findings and produced a 10 point summary to warn society, policy- and decision-makers as well as the general public.
Research professor Patrizia Ziveri, from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
and the coordinator of the project says, "We knew next to nothing about the combined effects of warming and acidification in the Mediterranean until this study, now we know that they are a serious double threat to our marine ecosystems."
"Iconic Mediterranean ecosystems such as sea grass meadows, the colourful Coralligene reefs and Vermetid snail reefs are threatened and now facing rapid decline through acidification and warming. These are amazing ecosystem building species, creating homes for thousands of species, and also serve to protect shores from erosion, offer a source of food and natural products to society," says Professor Maoz Fine from Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
"Subsea volcanic activity spews carbon dioxide into the seawater making the waters more acidic and an amazing natural laboratory, showing how a future Mediterranean Sea may look like. Unfortunately this window into a high CO2 sea shows us that life will become difficult for some species, invasive species may do well, biodiversity will decrease and some species will become extinct," comments Prof Jason Hall-Spencer from University of Plymouth.