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Feeling the pulse of the Mediterranean Sea
25th October 2018
Changes in the Mediterranean 
            Sea over the last 25 years
Changes in the Mediterranean Sea over the last 25 years

The Mediterranean Sea acts like a small scale ocean with strong air-sea heat and water flux exchanges triggering intermediate and deep water mass formation, pumping in the relatively fresh and warmer water from the Atlantic Ocean, churning it into the characteristic along-basin thermohaline circulation, and transforming it in a cooler and more saline outflow at the Strait of Gibraltar. These Mediterranean basin scale processes are known to be critical to changes that influence weather and climate in Europe.

The 2nd edition of the COPERNICUS Marine Service Ocean State Report (OSR) , published this week, provides information on changes and variations in the global oceans over the past decades, with a focus on the European regional seas, and includes the monitoring of inter-annual variations in the intensity of convection events in four key areas of the Mediterranean Sea.

COPERNICUS, previously known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), is the European Programme for the establishment of a European capacity for Earth Observation and Monitoring. It encompasses 3 components: SPACE, IN SITU and SERVICES. The SERVICES component addresses 6 thematic areas, amongst which is the COPERNICUS Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS).

By virtue of its track record in operational oceanography, its involvement in European research networks, and, more recently, its role as the Maltese member in the COPERNICUS Academy Network, the Physical Oceanography Research Group (PO.Res.Grp) endeavours to act as a local broker to promote the uptake of CMEMS data by users in Malta and beyond, primarily in the South Eastern Mediterranean countries. Led by Prof. Aldo Drago, the PO.Res.Grp is also a direct user of CMEMS, especially to derive boundary conditions for its meteo-marine forecasting numerical models, and for the delivery of added value products and downstream services targeted to the local stakeholders and coastal users.

CMEMS mainly provides data at the basin and regional scales. On the other hand, local users require high resolution data products, especially for applications close to the coast. The PO.Res.Grp is engaged in the integration and enhancement of CMEMS data, with coastal scale observations and high resolution numerical model fields as described above, to close the gap and to address the demands by coastal applications.

The link to COPERNICUS derived products relevant to the Maltese Islands are available online particularly through the dedicated website administered by the PO.Res.Grp. - http://ioi.research.um.edu.mt/cmemsmalta.