Mediterranean Sea Acidification in a changing climate (MedSeA)

Summary of the project

Increases of atmospheric CO2 and associated decreases in seawater pH and carbonate ion concentration this century and beyond are likely to have wide impacts on marine ecosystems including those of the Mediterranean Sea. Consequences of this process, ocean acidification, threaten the health of the Mediterranean, adding to other anthropogenic pressures, including those from climate change. Yet in comparison to other areas of the world ocean, there has been no concerted effort to study Mediterranean acidification, which is fundamental to the social and economic conditions of more than 400 million people living in Mediterranean countries and another 175 million who visit the region each year. 

The MedSeA project addresses ecologic and economic impacts from the combined influences of anthropogenic acidification and warming, while accounting for the unique characteristics of this key region. MedSeA will forecast chemical, climatic, ecological-biological, and socio-economical changes of the Mediterranean driven by increases in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, while focusing on the combined impacts of acidification and warming on marine shell and skeletal building, productivity, and food webs. We will use an interdisciplinary approach involving biologists, earth scientists, and economists, through observations, experiments, and modelling. These experts will provide science-based projections of Mediterranean acidification under the influence of climate change as well as associated economic impacts.

Projections will be based on new observations of chemical conditions as well as new observational and experimental data on the responses of key organisms and ecosystems to acidification, which will be fed into existing ocean models that have been improved to account for the Mediterranean’s fine-scale features. These scientific advances will allow us to provide the best advice to policymakers who must develop regional strategies for adaptation and mitigation. 

Area of study


TimeTable for activities

1st February 2011 – 31st January 2014

(Extended to July 2014)

MedSeA oceanographic cruise

The MedSeA oceanographic cruise along the Mediterranean Sea is an essential part of the European project “Mediterranean Sea Acidification in a changing climate – MEDSEA”, within the FP7 Cooperation program.  The European project MedSeA assesses uncertainties, risks and thresholds related to Mediterranean Sea acidification and warming, at organismal, ecosystem, and socio-economic impact scales. This is the first expedition studying at the basin scale the impact of elevated CO2 on the Mediterranean Sea biogeochemistry and target endemic organisms.

The research cruise has two legs from Cadiz to Heraklion and from Heraklion to Barcelona (May 2, 2013 – June 2 – 2013). The major campaign objective is to conduct a comprehensive water column sampling from each of the basins of the Mediterranean Sea.  There will be sediment core sampling, plankton tows and aereosol collectors. Four bioArgo floats will also be deployed.  The MedSeA campaign is also part of an international program GEOTRACES that aims to characterize and study the seawater dissolved elements The MedSeA project is endorsed by the international IMBERand SOLAS programmes.

The MedSeA oceanographic cruise is supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (MICINN). The research vessel Ángeles Alvariño of the Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEC) will be used.