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Ten simultaneous cruises in the Mediterranean and Black Sea begin

19.03.2008
Following the first multinational cruise to the Black Sea in October 2007, the SESAME project is embarking upon a set of simultaneous cruises, the Ünlüata cruises, for data collection purposes in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

A unique scientific and educational experience awaits everyone involved, as for the first time, the scientific community will join efforts to sample the two ecosystems at the same time. The results will produce a snapshot of the two seas, and they will feed the SESAME database in order to eventually produce scenarios that will predict the future changes that may affect these ecosystems in the next 50 years.

Ten different cruises have been planned for the months of March and April, arising from the different partners involved in the SESAME project. The vessels will simultaneously sample the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, in order to collect data for the SESAME database. This is the first time that simultaneous research is taking place, in order to understand physical, chemical and biological processes on a large scale in the Southern European Seas (SES).

The participating countries include Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Israel, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia. The main objective of the Ünlüata cruises is to sample the two environments at the same time, and thus prepare high quality datasets of new hydrographical, chemical and biological data collected during the quasi-synoptic cruises. Some of the parameters to be measured include temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, nutrients and chlorophyll-a. Additionally, samples for inorganic and organic dissolved carbon measurements, total alkalinity, as well as bacterial, phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass and production will also be taken.

These will be incorporated in the SESAME database and will be used for the implementation, tuning and evaluation of the ecological models.

This is the first time that the two seas will be sampled simultaneously, which will eventually yield a snapshot of the state of the Southern European Seas ecosystems. All sampling activities fall under the project’s work frame, and this newly collected data will be compared to historical data sets from 50 years ago. The results will, in turn, feed the models which will produce scenarios to predict possible changes in these ecosystems in the next 50 years to come, which underlines the project’s main objective.

Scientists, journalists, the general public, and schools in particular are invited to ‘follow’ the cruises online, as a special map with all stations, a cruise diary, data from CTD casts, and photos from aboard the research vessels will be uploaded daily on the website. A special area to host the cruises online has been created, where each vessel is shown with clear location coordinates, and also includes photos, as well as the daily diary both in the respective language and in English, thus making it accessible to a wide audience. Additionally, some schools will be able to connect to the researchers via a telephone connection, thus further strengthening the education initiatives and public outreach that underpin the project.

These cruises will not only collect crucial data for these ecosystems, but they add a societal and educational perspective to science, which will encourage the involvement of school children, and the society at large, in research activities, with the hope of raising awareness about the sea and climate change in general.

Martha Papathanassiou | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sesame-ip.eu
http://www.hcmr.gr

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