Detailed WP1 description


Leaders: Lucilla Benedetti (CEREGE), France Van Wambeke (MIO)

Work package description

The Mediterranean Basin, which includes Southern France, is subject to a plethora of natural hazards, either related to geology and geomorphology (earthquakes and associated tsunamis, karst or mine collapses, landslides, avalanches, coastline changes) or global change (floods, droughts, torrential erosion, forest fires, storms, high levels of ozone concentration).

Because of its semi-enclosed nature as well as its smaller inertia, the Mediterranean Sea is more sensitive to natural variations in terms of fluxes (e.g. air / sea or freshwater / sea fluxes) and water flows than larger oceans. Important questions deal with the frequency and occurrence of extreme events, as well as the intensity of expected acidification and water warming in the Mediterranean Sea and their subsequent impact on hydrology, ecosystem functioning and fishing resources.

Climate variability has been identified as one of the dominant factors in triggering some of these hazards and generally contributes to amplifying our vulnerability to these risks (e.g. episodic events like heat waves, river floods, cascading events will be more intense). Another amplification factor is population density, especially in large coastal cities, which are growing exponentially. They are sometimes settled in areas very vulnerable to natural hazards. Moreover tourism is strongly developed in the coastal area with a doubling of populations in summer when freshwater is most lacking.

One of the main atmospheric processes linked to the interannual variability of the Mediterranean climate is the West African Monsoon, which drives variability in precipitation. The timing and intensity of this monsoon overt time can be reconstructed in some locations, for instance from Lake Chad sedimentary records. Under the climatological control of Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) migration and its related summer monsoon, this lake receives more than 80% of its runoff from the humid tropics. It potentially provides a continuous record of the water resources of a large semi-arid area.

Other actions

Actions Description Collaborations/ programs
Thermohaline circulation and mesoscale processes

(1) investigate potential changes in dense water formation, thermohaline circulation and mesoscale physical processes, particularly focusing on the NW Mediterranean Sea
(2) using field studies, long term observation and modelling tools

Air-sea interactions

(1) foster skills in analytical chemistry, biogeochemistry, physics, optics to examine the changes within air-sea interactions
(2) investigate the effects of changes in UV radiation and aerosol deposition on biogeochemical processes

Trans-boundary aquifers (1) Study NW Sahara Aquifer Systems (NWSAS) exploited by Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, using models, isotopes, satellite data
(2) build a transient reactive transport model to improve the hydrodynamic management model of NWSAS (Baba Sy, 2005)
(3) provide decision-support tools to end users
CEREGE / Univ Sfax (Tu) / Blida (Alg) Equipex ASTER-CEREGE
Long-term variations of climate (Lebanon) (1) improve knowledge of variability in the hydrological cycle of N Lebanon using a multiproxy analysis of lacustrine sediments and modelling at regional and global scales
(2) provide a high-resolution continental record since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and for the first time for the past 450 ka and compare these to marine records
CEREGE, American Univ Beyrouth, Libanese National Centre of Geophysics
Forest fires (1) map fire risk with a special focus on the wildland-urban interface
(2) study vulnerability, adaptation and resilience of fire-prone Mediterranean ecosystems, in a context of increased risk
(3) study effects of urban pressure and climate change on fire risk
IRSTEA, IMBE FUME European project
Water resources of Lake Chad (1) produce a continuous reconstruction of hydrological and paleoenvironmental changes over Lake Chad, based on lacustrine sedimentary archives
(2) infer precipitation and temperature from pollen, phytolith and diatoms
(3) model vegetation and hydrology
CEREGE, Hydrosciences Montpellier, Affaires Etrangères, AFD, FFEM
Long-term climatic changes in the Middle East (1) study climatic changes and human-environment interactions in Iran
(2) study of the history of domestication of animals and plants
(3) based on pollen diagrams and archaeological studies
IMBE, Iranian Nat. Inst. Ocean., Univ. Teheran, Geol Survey Iran
Seismic hazard and morpho-genesis in Provence (1) characterize the role of the respective forces within the recent inversions in tectonics of SE France, using tectonic and geomorphological studies
(2) quantify basin-scale denudation using 36Cl inventories in river-borne sediments
Long-term coastline changes (1) use Holocene records in proximity to archaeological sites to understand the human dimensions of past coastal changes
(2) use a multidisciplinary approach (geography, geosciences, palaeobotany, archaeology) in Nile delta (Egypt) and Malta
(3) assess coastal and fluvial dynamics within the context of climate changes and human impacts


CEREGE, several univ. N. Africa

 Impact of contaminants on the Mediterranean Sea (1) develop long-term observation systems to measure microbial and chemical parameters
(2) focus on the role of industrial activity, maritime traffic, oil refineries in the maritime area around Marseille
Long-term hydrological changes in the E. Med. (1) study hydrological changes in the E. Med. during deglaciation using marine/lacustrine sedimentary records along a NS transect
(2) calibrate proxies for air and sea temperatures, continental runoff
(3) provide snapshots of the Eastern Mediterranean marine and continental reorganizations in response to specific climatic events
Submarine groundwater discharge and salinisation of coastal aquifer (1) study exchange processes at the interface of continental aquifers and coastal marine waters (Spain, France, Israel and Tunisia)
(2) study impact on the transfer of freshwater, nutrients, pollutants and trace gases into the marine environment and the ecological consequences of submarine groundwater discharge
Long-term climate variations (Morocco) analyse cores from open lakes of the Middle Atlas to study the influence of Atlantic versus Subtropical climate on the water cycle over the last millennia, based on isotopic proxies and hydrological modelling CEREGE, Univ. Marrrakech
Risks for hydraulic installations (1) develop methods and technologies to study risk related to existing and future hydraulic infrastructure
(2) assess vulnerability to support holistic risk management strategies
Paleoseismic hazards (1) evaluate the seismic risk by characterizing past earthquakes in Central Italy, Greece and Turkey during the last 15 ka
(2) acquire high-resolution data to evaluate patterns of slip release
(3) use new observations to improve the available scenarios
Coastal natural hazards (1) map Mediterranean coastal changes (Algerian and Tunisian coasts)
(2) study shoreline change, wave action and sedimentary budgets
(3) build a coastal vulnerability index for coastal managers
CEREGE, several univ. N. Africa, PALEOMED ANR project PALEOMEX
Grotte Cosquer (1) study palaeoenvironements, sea level and the conservation of this cultural heritage based on dating, sedimentology, geophysics, bathymetry, geomorphology, archaeology CEREGE