Satellite data show a steady increase, in the last decades, of the surface temperature (upper few millimetres of the water surface) of the Mediterranean Sea. Reports of mass mortalities of benthic marine invertebrates increased in the same period. Some local studies interpreted the two phenomena in a cause-effect fashion. However, a basin-wide picture of temperature changes combined with a systematic assessment on invertebrate mass mortalities was still lacking. Both the thermal structure of the water column in the Mediterranean Sea over the period 1945-2011 and all documented invertebrate mass mortality events in the basin are analysed to ascertain if: 1- documented mass mortalities occurred under conditions of positive temperature trends at basin scale, and 2- atypical thermal conditions were registered at the smaller spatial and temporal scale of mass mortality events. The thermal structure of the shallow water column over the last 67 years was reconstructed using data from three public sources: MEDAR-MEDATLAS, World Ocean Database, MFS-VOS programme. A review of the mass mortality events of benthic invertebrates at Mediterranean scale was also carried out. The analysis of in situ temperature profiles shows that the Mediterranean Sea changed in a non-homogeneous fashion. The frequency of mass mortalities is increasing. The areas subjected to these events correspond to positive thermal anomalies. Statistically significant temperature trends in the upper layers of the Mediterranean Sea show an increase of up to 0.07°C/yr for a large fraction of the basin. Mass mortalities are consistent with both the temperature increase at basin scale and the thermal changes at local scale, up to 5.2°C. Our research supports the existence of a causal link between positive thermal anomalies and observed invertebrate mass mortalities in the Mediterranean Sea, invoking focused mitigation initiatives in sensitive areas.

Global warming and mass mortalities of benthic invertebrates in the mediterranean sea

ZAMBIANCHI, Enrico;
2014

Abstract

Satellite data show a steady increase, in the last decades, of the surface temperature (upper few millimetres of the water surface) of the Mediterranean Sea. Reports of mass mortalities of benthic marine invertebrates increased in the same period. Some local studies interpreted the two phenomena in a cause-effect fashion. However, a basin-wide picture of temperature changes combined with a systematic assessment on invertebrate mass mortalities was still lacking. Both the thermal structure of the water column in the Mediterranean Sea over the period 1945-2011 and all documented invertebrate mass mortality events in the basin are analysed to ascertain if: 1- documented mass mortalities occurred under conditions of positive temperature trends at basin scale, and 2- atypical thermal conditions were registered at the smaller spatial and temporal scale of mass mortality events. The thermal structure of the shallow water column over the last 67 years was reconstructed using data from three public sources: MEDAR-MEDATLAS, World Ocean Database, MFS-VOS programme. A review of the mass mortality events of benthic invertebrates at Mediterranean scale was also carried out. The analysis of in situ temperature profiles shows that the Mediterranean Sea changed in a non-homogeneous fashion. The frequency of mass mortalities is increasing. The areas subjected to these events correspond to positive thermal anomalies. Statistically significant temperature trends in the upper layers of the Mediterranean Sea show an increase of up to 0.07°C/yr for a large fraction of the basin. Mass mortalities are consistent with both the temperature increase at basin scale and the thermal changes at local scale, up to 5.2°C. Our research supports the existence of a causal link between positive thermal anomalies and observed invertebrate mass mortalities in the Mediterranean Sea, invoking focused mitigation initiatives in sensitive areas.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11367/30479
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