Seawater Physics and Chemistry along the Med-SHIP Transects in the Mediterranean Sea in 2016

The Earth's oceans play a crucial role in the planet's energy and freshwater balance. However, much of the ocean remains undersampled, particularly at depths exceeding 2000 meters. The Mediterranean Sea, a miniature ocean, mirrors oceanic processes but with faster dynamics on smaller scales.
Published in Earth & Environment
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Our paper addresses the significant changes the Mediterranean Sea has undergone in recent decades and their implications for climate, ocean biogeochemistry, and regional ecosystem functioning.

A Historical Perspective: From Fragmented Data to Comprehensive Surveys

Historically, the Mediterranean Sea has been sporadically sampled, primarily through national expeditions in regional waters. Early studies, such as the Gibraltar Experiment and the Physical Oceanography of the Eastern Mediterranean, set the baseline for understanding Mediterranean water masses. However, uncoordinated efforts driven by national interests resulted in fragmented and sporadic observations.

Recognizing the need for systematic and comprehensive observations, the Mediterranean Science Commission (CIESM) recommended the Med-SHIP program in 2011. This initiative, aligned with the Global Ocean Ship-based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP), aims to detect the impact of climate change in the Mediterranean Sea through regular surveys.

The Med-SHIP Initiative

The Med-SHIP program involves zonal and meridional hydrographic sections, adhering to GO-SHIP guidelines. Our paper represents the culmination of efforts in 2016, providing the first quasi-synoptic meridional surveys of the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Sea. More than 40 scientists, from eight countries, collaborated on three national research vessels to collect comprehensive physical and biogeochemical data.

Data, Diversity, and Collaboration: Key Highlights

The data collected during the cruises include essential ocean variables such as temperature, salinity, pressure, inorganic nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and chlorofluorocarbons. This multidisciplinary dataset, curated with the precision required by GO-SHIP, sets the stage for understanding long-term changes in the Mediterranean Sea.

Our commitment to regional collaboration is reflected not only in the diversity of our cruise teams but also in the broader mission of Med-SHIP. The program aims to bridge the research and expertise gap between northern shore countries and those in the Middle East and North Africa, emphasizing capacity building, collaborative efforts, and knowledge exchange.

Looking Ahead: Beyond the Surface

As we present this exhaustive description of the datasets from the 2016 cruises, we acknowledge that more in-depth analyses and specific scientific papers will follow. These will detail oceanographic and biogeochemical aspects, providing a comprehensive understanding of this key multidisciplinary database that sets the baseline for future repetitions within the Med-SHIP initiative.

In conclusion, our journey through the depths of the Mediterranean Sea reveals not only its complexity but also the collective efforts required to unlock more knowledge.

Schroeder, K., Kovačević, V., Civitarese, G. et al. Seawater physics and chemistry along the Med-SHIP transects in the Mediterranean Sea in 2016. Sci Data 11, 52 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-023-02835-3

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Physical Oceanography
Physical Sciences > Earth and Environmental Sciences > Earth Sciences > Ocean Sciences > Physical Oceanography
Biogeochemistry
Physical Sciences > Earth and Environmental Sciences > Earth Sciences > Biogeosciences > Biogeochemistry

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