CR 50:1-29 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01040

REVIEW
Effects of climate change on Mediterranean marine ecosystems: the case of the Catalan Sea

Eva Calvo1,*, Rafel Simó1, Rafel Coma2, Marta Ribes1, Josep Pascual3, Anna Sabatés1, Josep M. Gili1, Carles Pelejero1,4

1Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
2Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes, CSIC, 17300 Blanes, Spain
3Estació Meteorològica de l’Estartit, Girona, Spain
4Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), 08010 Barcelona, Spain

ABSTRACT: The Catalan Sea, located between the eastern Iberian coast and the Balearic Islands, is a representative portion of the western Mediterranean basin and provides a valuable case study for climate change effects on Mediterranean ecosystems. Global warming is reflected regionally by a rise in sea level over the last century, an increase in surface temperature of around 1.1°C in the last 35 yr, a progressive salinisation of intermediate and deep waters and a strengthening of the stratification. A likely scenario of what we can expect in the Mediterranean Sea is a considerable decrease in rainfall and wind, warmer surface waters and a prolonged stratification period. The effects on Mediterranean ecosystems are evident in: (1) a meridionalisation of the algal, invertebrate and vertebrate species, which favours the more thermophilic species over the temperate species; (2) mass mortality events of sessile invertebrates of the coralligenous communities owing to anomalous warm waters during the period when food is scarce; (3) increases in the smallest phytoplankton due to the prolongation of the water stratification period; (4) proliferation of gelatinous carnivores, including jellyfish, due to the temperature rise and the lack of rainfall; (5) a faster acidification of seawater, compared with the global oceans, accompanied by a decrease in the capacity to absorb atmospheric CO2. In order to anticipate and mitigate these predicted changes, we recommend investing in research and observation, conserving areas that serve as indicators of climate change and reducing other anthropogenic pressures such as habitat destruction, overfishing or pollution, which may act synergistically to accelerate these changes.


KEY WORDS: Climate change · Marine ecosystems · Catalan Sea · Mediterranean Sea · Time series


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Cite this article as: Calvo E, Simó R, Coma R, Ribes M and others (2011) Effects of climate change on Mediterranean marine ecosystems: the case of the Catalan Sea. Clim Res 50:1-29. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01040

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