WP4 - Variability of oceanographic dynamics, impact on deep sea ecosystems and future scenarios

The overall objective of this WP is to quantify the processes of water column variability in the open sea following a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach, with particular attention to the phenomena of deep-water heating, changes in salinity, water acidification, also related to changes in environmental forcing. It also studies the spatial and temporal variability of these processes and the effect on connectivity of populations settled in distinct deep habitats.

The WP gives the opportunity to the national scientific and industrial community to make progress in the identification of climate change on the high and deep seas, contributing to both aspects of technological innovation and scientific understanding, with the ultimate goal to identify areas of increased system fragility that must be taken into account in open sea spatial planning. Some of the processes that may justify oceanographic features or anomalies in the distribution of biotic communities and the formation of morphologies specific to the seabed are also investigated.

The activities and results of the WP also provide potential links with the energy industry for the use of gradients of temperature and salinity. The specific objectives of WP are to provide information on:

  1. the variability of water column dynamics and characteristics in Italian deep waters, the seasonal scale in the long-term, considering the role of air-sea interactions and internal variability;

  2. the spatio-temporal variability of physical parameters and fundamental biogeochemical deep environments and their effects on the geosphere and biosphere;

  3. the essential processes for climate variability,which provide information about interfaces and boundaries phenomena, such as intensity and frequency of episodic events, circulation and abyssal mixing and its connection with superficial and intermediate circulation, processes of the surface mixed layer, ecosystems response and extreme events;

  4. the acidification of the Mediterranean and its effect on deep ecosystems.

These objectives are achieved by using a comprehensive approach based on the analysis of historical observational and modeling data, planning and implementation of new optimized measures, and the identification of future scenarios through modeling and laboratory studies.

The WP is divided into the following activities:

  • AZ1 - Identification of physical, biogeochemical and biological variability of deep water column

  • AZ2 - Circulation and abyssal mixing and links with the superficial and intermediate circulation

  • AZ3 - Processes of the surface mixed layer response to extreme weather events and the impact on the ecosystem-modeling and experimental studies to future scenarios

WP leader Enrico Zambianchi - CONISMA