North-West Mediterranean Pilot Supersite

Contact: Laurent Coppola

Main characteristics of the Northwestern Mediterranean basin

The NORTHWESTERN MEDITERRANEAN basin is one of the most dynamic regions in the Mediterranean Sea. In this area, the intense open sea convection, shelf water cascading events, storm and flood events, occurring in wintertime, affect the distribution of sediments, nutrients and organic matters in the land-to-sea continuum and all over the water column. In addition, the subsequent intense spring bloom represents the most important biological process of the basin which impacts the carbon exports. The main drivers of these dynamic processes are the winds forcing and the cyclonic circulation, which is characterized by an intense boundary current, the Northern Current (NC), flowing from the Italian to the Spanish coasts. The general circulation of the NC is affected by seasonal variability as well as synoptic processes and constitutes an important dynamic barrier between the open sea and coastal waters.

Map showing the key NW-MED PSS sustained platforms and existing stations
Map showing the key NW-MED PSS sustained platforms and existing stations

Platforms in the North-West Mediterranean Pilot Supersite

Operational observation systems & platforms in the region Parameters
Ships (ILICO, SOCIB, CNR) Profiles: T, S, O2, fluorescence
Bottles: nutrients, carbonate, zooplankton, phytoplankton, genomics
HF radars (CNR, PdE, ILICO, SOCIB) Surface currents (speed, direction)
Moorings (ILICO, CNR) T, S, O2, currents, particle flux, images
Buoys (ILICO, PdE, UPC, SOCIB) Meteorology, currents, waves, PAR, T, S, O2, fluorescence, pH, pCO2
Tide gauges (PdE, SOCIB) Sea level
River stations (ILICO) Discharge, particles load, nutrients, metals
Seabed (UPC) T, S, depth, currents, waves, underwater sound. seismometer, video-camera, biodiversity
Gliders (ILICO, SOCIB) T, S, fluo, turbidity, O2, CDOM, BB700 (routinely), particles size, current motion (occasionally)
Numerical models (SOCIB, IFREMER, PdE, CNRS) (3D) T, S, currents, waves, sea level


There are 6 actions for North-West Mediterranean Pilot Supersites.

Action # Title Objective
1 Reconstruction of the 3D coastal dynamics

This Action provides a transnational approach to study the Northern Current overall dynamics, encompassing and connecting specific sea areas under investigation by the partners involved. It uses the Regional Data in the Northern Current region, to reconstruct the 3-D coastal dynamics and, in combination with modelling, to analyse dispersion of marine life (larvae, jellyfish, phyto- and zooplankton) in different current scenarios, with possible applications to distribution of pollutants, jellyfish, alien species and in support of fisheries and regional management. [Action is a combination of original topics i & ii]

2 Impacts of river discharge to coastal ecosystems This Action deals with the quantification and characterization of riverine inputs of particles as well as nutrients and contaminants and estimate their potential impact in the coastal adjacent area (accumulation rates and impact on benthos, partition between deposit and plume). Mediterranean rivers are characterized by short-term but violent flash-flood events. There is a need to augment and coordinate regional river observations of riverine particle load and their coastal impacts and develop scenarios how riverine inputs and flooding may affect coastal ecosystems and how it should be observed.
3 Extreme events affecting phytoplankton – AQUACOSM collaboration II Phytoplankton communities are affected by extreme coastal events and global warming. Phytoplankton is often responding very rapidly to perturbations and impacts of those cannot always be studied effectively using observations only, but an experimental approach is required. The strategic plan of this Action is to improve synergies between JERICO-S3 observing community and AQUACOSM-plus mesocosm experimenting community in studying dynamics of coastal phytoplankton populations. The Regional Data of NW-MED PSS can be used to identify the range of the water temperature, conductivity, turbidity, nutrients, timing of phytoplankton bloom, etc. Such information can improve the mesocosm experimental plans and protocols, in defining realistic experimental treatments. In addition, the range of some other parameters such as dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations and water temperature can be considered for an experimental mesocosm investigation to study separate and combining effects of DOC load and temperature increase in the phytoplankton community responses.
4 Biogeochemical data and ocean colour products Harmonise and implement joint QC for regional data (biogeochemical and optical) to improve regional ocean colour (OC) and BGC regional models products. This action will consist in the elaboration of matchups between OC derived products and in situ measurements (Chla, SPM, turbidity, IOP) for the whole PSS. For regional models, there is still a need of in-situ data to evaluate the performance of BGC models, including nutrients (nitrate, phosphate, silicate), oxygen, chlorophyll-a and carbon-related variables (pH, pCO2, DIC, ALK, DOC, POC). At the end, this action will establish the needs in terms of BGC/optical variables for in situ coastal observations to improve models and quality of ocean color products for coastal waters. It will help to elaborate new BGC indicators for the NW-MED, indicators useful for end-users and stakeholders: acidification (pH indicator), eutrophication/hypoxia (nutrient and oxygen indicators), HABs (chlorophyll-based indicator) and water quality (chlorophyll-based indicator or SST) with applications for future CMEMS services. [Action is a combination of original topics v and vi]
5 RI interactions Establish strong links with existing open ocean and land-coastal RIs EMSO-ERIC, EURO-ARGO ERIC, EMBRC-ERIC and ICOS ERIC, to secure littoral-coast-open sea continuum in observations and modelling. The open sea observatories, especially EMSO-ERIC, will provide open access data for NW-MED PSS needs and the expertise on biogeochemical sensors and QC procedures will be shared. The repeated observations of biodiversity in the PSS region (through imagery and genomics approaches) is also a strong opportunity to set up interactions between EMBRC-ERIC and JERICO and reinforce collaborations between the communities.
6 Transnational integration The NW-MED will promote integration of the regional and European initiatives like MONGOOS (EUROGOOS) and UNEP-MAP to disseminate results, new products and to align its strategy (new variables, new tools) towards a regional integrated observing system. The PSS products will be presented regularly during MONGOOS and EUROGOOS workshops and general assemblies.