The general MerMex project as well as foreign similar initiatives were discussed during the Marseille international workshop, 8-9th of July 2010.

The most relevant issues for the future of marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean constitute the main research axes that MERMEX proposed to tackle :

  • How would changes in stratification and destratification mechanisms and in the overall thermohaline circulation alter the spatio- temporal distribution of nutrients and their budgets? More specifically, what is the influence of dense water formation on the spatial and temporal variability of biogenic elements, the triggering of planktonic blooms, and the sequestration of biogenic elements, particularly carbon)?
  • How would likely changes in nutrient inputs from physical transport, rivers, the atmosphere (including extreme events) and straits affect the nutrient availability in the photic layer of the Mediterranean Sea, the relative abundance of primary producers, and the higher trophic levels?
  • What are the typical concentrations of chemical contaminants in the various water masses of the Mediterranean? What are their sources and sinks (e.g., atmosphere versus rivers, especially for organic contaminants) and seasonal variations?
  • What is the role of the land- sea boundary (rivers, large cities, groundwater discharge) in the material balance of the Mediterranean Sea (carbon, nutrient, contaminants) ?
  • Will changes in the frequency or magnitude of extreme events lead to the dispersion or dilution of carbon, nutrients, and pollutants or, in contrast, to their accumulation in specific compartments?
  • What will be the impact of changes in light radiation on biogeochemical processes, including primary production, POC- degradation processes, and degradation of DOM and pollutants?
  • What is the actual rate of change of both temperature and pH in the Mediterranean Sea? How will these variables evolve and impact the Mediterranean solubility pump? What impacts will they have on the functioning of pelagic and benthic Mediterranean ecosystems?
  • Will the functioning of mesopelagic and deep sea Mediterranean ecosystems be strongly affected by changes originating from surface ecosystem production and vertical fluxes or by changes in the hydrodynamics of the intermediate and deep waters?
  • As the surface seawater warms, will the planktonic community of the pelagic ecosystem become dominated by nanophytoplankton and jellyfish, as suggested by several recent studies?