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The Mediterranean Targeted Project: A new insight into the life of the Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean Targeted Project (MTP) is a large-scale research project financed under the Community's specific RTD programme in the field of Marine Science and Technology (MAST). The aim of the project is to examine the functioning of the Mediterranean Sea, in all its aspe...
The Mediterranean Targeted Project (MTP) is a large-scale research project financed under the Community's specific RTD programme in the field of Marine Science and Technology (MAST). The aim of the project is to examine the functioning of the Mediterranean Sea, in all its aspects, through a strong multidisciplinary approach considering physical, chemical and biological processes.

The second phase of this important project (MTP-II MATER) was launched in August 1996. It involves 53 partners (including the Joint Research Centre of the European Union) from 13 countries and will run until 1999. It is currently the largest multidisciplinary research project on the Mediterranean Sea.

The pilot phase of MTP, which ended on 31 July 1996, has led to an unprecedented level of scientific cooperation in the area and important scientific findings, including:

- Evidence for climatic changes were detected in the deep water masses of both the Western and the Eastern Mediterranean basin. These changes are an increase in temperature of the deep layers during the last 3-4 decades and an increase in salinity. They could have a profound influence on the ecosystem functioning of the next few decades;

- An increase of nutrient discharges (phosphate and nitrate) in the Mediterranean Sea was documented, resulting from an increase of population as well as industrial and agricultural activities, and having a negative impact on tourism in some places;

- A 50% decrease of lead concentrations in surface waters in the early 1990s was measured, as a result of the application of European regulations on lead additives in gasoline;

- An observation that seasonal changes of atmospheric input to the marine environment are evident to a water depth of 1,000 meters;

- Production of very advanced models of Mediterranean circulation from the global scale down to the coastal area. The project was especially successful in pioneering efforts for the inclusion of ecological processes into numerical models;

- Important changes in the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the South Aegean region were observed with a possible substantial impact on the ecosystem of the whole Eastern Mediterranean.

The preliminary results of the project have changed our current understanding of the functioning of the Mediterranean Sea and open up new opportunities for climate modelling and coastal management. The new MTP II project will continue and expand on the work already carried out.

Source: European Commission, DG XII
DE FR

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