Marine Ecosystems Response in the Mediterranean Experiment (MERMEX)

Summary of the project

MerMex focus on the understanding of the effects of key natural and anthropogenic forcings on ecosystems (from coastal zones to open-ocean, from pelagos to benthos) and organisms (from viruses to fishes) in Mediterranean Sea. Most of the Research objectives studied in MerMex were deduced from the Mermex article (Progress in Oceanography, 2011) in which ~100 co-authors so-called ‘the MerMex group’ presented current knowledge on biogeochemistry in the Mediterranean Sea and highlighted the uncertainty on the responses to global change in the 21th Century.

The most relevant issues for the future of marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean are listed here and constitute the main research axes that MERMEX propose to tackle in the next 5 years:

  • How would changes in stratification and destratification mechanisms and in the overall thermohaline circulation alter the spatio-temporal distribution of nutrients and their budgets?
  • How would likely changes in nutrient inputs from physical transport, rivers, the atmosphere (including extreme events) and straits affect the nutrient availability in the photic layer of the Mediterranean Sea, the relative abundance of primary producers, and the higher trophic levels?
  • What are the sources and sinks of chemical contaminants (e.g., atmosphere versus rivers) and seasonal variations?
  • What is the role of the land-sea boundary (rivers, large cities, groundwater discharge) in the material balance of the Mediterranean Sea (carbon, nutrient, contaminants) ?
  • Will changes in the frequency or magnitude of extreme events lead to the dispersion or dilution of carbon, nutrients, and pollutants or, in contrast, to their accumulation in specific compartments?
  • What is the actual rate of change of both temperature, pH and light radiation in the Mediterranean Sea? How will these functioning of pelagic and benthic Mediterranean ecosystems?
  • As the surface seawater warms, will the planktonic community of the pelagic ecosystem become dominated by nanophytoplankton and jellyfish, as suggested by several recent studies?

Area of study

Mediterranean Sea including western and eastern basins

TimeTable for activities