Call for applications: Climate change and acidification of the Mediterranean Sea: from air-sea interactions to the impacts on marine ecosystems

This course is organized by ENEA – Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development – in cooperation with IAEA – Ocean Acidification Coordination Centre and the University of Gent, and within and in collaboration with the marine Protected Area of Isole Pelagie. The aim of the School is to promote multilateral cooperation amongst different partners through training and research of young scientists from European and Developing Countries, on the theme of Climate Change. Being the education the core of the programme, this school will be based on multidisciplinary inputs in Climate Change research and didactics, considering three main compartments, Atmosphere, Ocean and Marine Ecosystems.

25 hours will be dedicated to seminars, practical and lab activities with teachers on Physic and Chemistry of the Atmosphere, Seawater chemistry and physics, and Marine Bioconstructional Ecosystems, Communication and Data Analyses. 16 hours of will be dedicated to data collection for research projects, and 15 hours will be dedicated to data analyses, seminar preparation and discussion groups.

This school will provide the necessary logistic arrangement to fuel scientific discussion amongst all participants (Msc students, PhD, professionals) with the aim of producing an original cross-disciplinary output to the benefit of the administration of the Marine Protected Area of Isole Pelagie, who will host the program.

Background
It is nowadays clear that climate change is driven by human activities, caused by an unprecedented increase in greenhouse gases emissions, as assessed by the last IPCC report. The consequences of the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases (mainly CO2 and CH4) concentrations are manifold, including modifications in the Earth system energy budget, hydrological cycle, atmospheric circulation, occurrence of extreme events. Overall these modifications are exacerbating the risks for the environment such as desertification, biodiversity loss, unsustainable use of natural resources, risks for human health, increase in migrations and conflicts. One of the major consequences of the climate change is the reduction of ability to store carbon stock by the Atmosphere and the Ocean.

The Mediterranean Sea, being a semi-closed basing surrounded by continents with different orographic and land use characteristics, and with strong anthropic pressure, has been addressed as one of the main climatic hot-spots, i.e. the world regions more vulnerable or more sensitive to global changes. In the last decades, a temperature increase, in some cases larger than at global scale, has been measured in the coastal regions of the Mediterranean, together with sea level rise, and decrease in precipitation.

In the Mediterranean Region, which include approximately the 10% of the Global Biodiversity, the climate stressors such as warming, acidification, hypoxia are impacting resilience of marine and terrestrial ecosystems that, once damaged, loose their importance as natural resources thus causing serious economic impacts.

Among marine ecosystems providing Ecosystem Services, Mediterranean calcifying bioconstructional organisms (i.e. coralline algae, bryozoans, molluscs, polychaetes, corals) represent a carbon source and sink and promote the biodiversity by creating 3D structures. Because of their specific physiological characteristics, they exert feedbacks to seawater and atmosphere via calcification, photosynthesis and respiration processes.

In the Southern sector of the Central Mediterranean, Lampedusa island is small and poorly vegetated, far from the continent and from large pollution sources. For its characteristics, the evolution of the local meteorological parameters and atmospheric compositions is representative of the wider Central Mediterranean. Since 1997 Lampedusa island hosts the ENEA Station for Climate Observations (www.lampedusa.enea.it(link is external)), where long-term measurements and field campaigns are carried out to monitor and study the evolution of the atmospheric composition and of the surface radiative budget in relation to climate change.

This course aims to introduce students to the theme of climate change in the Mediterranean Sea by analysing three main compartments, air, sea and biota, and their mutual influences in a pristine environment such as Lampedusa island. The overall aim is to provide a global vision by learning and measuring processes occurring within each compartment as well as changes induced by each compartment to the others, thus highlighting the complex functioning of the system as a whole.

The course will be held on the Island of Lampedusa (AG, Italy), part of the Marine Protected Area of Isole Pelagie, and will take advantage from the scientific facility of the ENEA Observatory. Students will be based on Lampedusa Island for 7 days, where they will attend seminars on different topics, perform lab and field work activities, and develop their own research projects that will be presented in a final event open to the public.

More information.

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