The project aims to study in an integrated manner the impact of climatic and human pressures on the interactions between the processes of the shelf and the deep-sea ones of the central Mediterranean (southern Adriatic and Ionian Seas), and on important biogeochemical and ecological processes of these seas, in order to assess the potential impact on the Ecological Status, defined by the descriptors and indicators from the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) 2008/56/EU. In particular, MedGES aims to identify the natural inherent and induced variability in the indicators of the Ecological Status (GES - Good Environmental Status), to assess the response to the adoption of best practice environmental management and climate forcings.
In particular, the project aims to:
- Identify the main physical processes involved in the transfer of anthropogenic and climate perturbation and the spatial and temporal scales that describe their variability; understand the physico-chemical and biological mechanisms of interaction between the shelf and the deep-sea areas in Adriatic-Ionian system; identify the impacts associated with changes in decades recently reported in the Mediterranean (eastern Mediterranean Transient, Adriatic-Ionian Bimodal Oscillating System); evaluate the direct and indirect impacts of anthropogenic, natural and climatic pressures on the biogeochemical and ecological processes on the deep water in the system Adriatic-Ionian;
- Develop analytical tools to support the assessment of human impact in the deep waters and the consequences of any mitigation effects;
- Contribute to the definition of tools for the assessment of some indicators to define the Good Ecological Status (GES-Good Environmental Status) of EC directives;
- Develop new technologies for the measurement and estimation of the impact starting from the know-how and infrastructures existing at OGS;
- Use high-frequency detectors for the pilot study of physical and biological processes (in particular acoustic emissions from marine mammals) using the existing underwater, high-depth station of INGV SN-1, located in the deep waters of the Ionian Sea.
The project contains many innovative elements such as:
- The simultaneous analysis of shelf and deep ecosystems with the dynamic processes that connect them;
- An interdisciplinary approach to understand different anthropogenic and natural pressures for the correct application of the Good Environmental Status (GES in the Community terminology now in current use)criteria;
- A specific focus on deep marine environments, in the framework of the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD);
- The development of innovative technologies and the ability to integrate measurements from last generation sensors (remote sensing from aircraft, glider robotic submarines, profiling floating buoys, the OGS DeepSea Observatory E2M3A in South Adriatic, the INGV multidisciplinary Observatory SN-1) and numerical methods;
- The development of innovative methods for the definition of indicators for the MSFD Descriptor 11 'Underwater noise' that can be obtained through physical and acoustic parameters collected by Wired SN-1 of the INGV.
The activities are divided into 5 tasks:
- Variability and pathways in the processes of coast-shelf-deep-sea interactions;
- Structure and functioning of deep ecosystems;
- Numerical studies on the impact of anthropogenic pressures on marine ecosystems, assessment of GES and of mitigation actions and impacts;
- Development of a new technology for the remote measurement of algal communities through airborne hyperspectral sensors;
- Data acquisition on the seabed and analysis of the physical parameters collected by deep sea observers.
The attention to the training of young researchers is a long-established practice in OGS.
A PhD will be made available for some tasks.
As part of the multi-year collaboration of OGS with the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ITCP), postdoctoral fellowships for foreign students will be funded. Finally, a Summer School (2-3 weeks) for interdisciplinary neo-doctoral and young researchers (preferably in collaboration with ICTP) will be organized.