Mass mortalities driven by climate- and human-related changes in the Mediterranean SeaInternal

Activity Overview

Type: Foresight Workshop
Start Date: February 15, 2021
End Date: February 19, 2021
Host: CSIC
Venue: Barcelona, Spain
Contact: Joaquim Garrabou
E-mail: garrabou [at]
Funding Call: EuroMarine 2020 call for FWS and WG proposals
Decision Body: EuroMarine Steering Committee

The Mediterranean Sea is a hot spot for marine biodiversity. Despite covering less than 1% of the world’s oceans it hosts about 10% of marine species and contains a high percentage (25-30%) of endemic species. Mediterranean marine ecosystems support the development of coastal and national wide socio-economic activities including food provision, coastal protection and tourism. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean region is also considered a climate change hotspot, where the respective impacts of warming are very pronounced and relatively well documented. One of the major impacts of sea surface temperature rise in the marine coastal ecosystems is the occurrence of mass mortality events (MMEs). These events in general have generally been associated with strong and recurrent marine heat waves which are becoming more frequent globally.

Both field observations and future projections using Regional Coupled Models show continued increases in Mediterranean Sea surface temperature, with more frequent occurrence of extreme ocean warming events. As a result, new MMEs are expected over the coming years. To date, despite the efforts, neither updated nor comprehensive information can support scientific analysis of mortality events at a Mediterranean regional scale. Such information is vital to guide management and conservation strategies that can then inform adaptive management schemes that aim to face the impacts of climate change. This foresight workshop therefore aims to provide key information in supporting the actions to promote the role of Mediterranean MPAs at the frontline of climate change adaptation strategies.

Key Objectives

The Foresight Workshop will bring together experts from different domains related to climate change and conservation biology. Over the course of the workshop these experts will seek to connect physico-chemical climate change trends and conditions to observed ecological and evolutionary impacts focusing on the case of mass mortalities. These connections will explore the interactions between climate change and other human pressures at different levels of organization from individual to local population and ecosystem. Finally, the workshop aims to design transregional collaboration actions aiming to enhance our understanding of key processes underlying in the functioning of impacted ecosystems, focusing on affected habitat-forming species and potential cascading effects.

Expected Outputs

  • Update and validatation the MME-T-MEDNet database
  • Publish a paper reporting mass mortality events across the Mediterranean during 2015-2019, the five hottest years on record in the Mediterranean. 
  • Produce a review paper on mass mortality events in the Mediterranean during the last 4 decades focusing in regime shifts in thermal conditions and comparison with trends in other ocean areas. 
  • Design a transregional sampling/experiment which could be organized on annual basis afterwards

Expected Impact

The expected outcomes will provide new data and information related to climate change impacts in the Mediterranean regions to inform policy for a well-functioning ocean in support of all sustainable development goals of the Agenda 2030.