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Italy was particularly affected by the European migrant crisis. Since , over , migrants have landed in Italy,  mainly sub-Saharan Africans. In the archaeological team of experts from Underwater Research Center of the Akdeniz University UA revealed a shipwreck dated back years in the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey in It was possible to measure the age of the remains thanks to 1. It has been confirmed that the shipwreck dating back to BC is older than the " Uluburun Shipwreck " dating back to BC and Greek merchant ship dating years back.
The typical Mediterranean climate has hot, humid, and dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Crops of the region include olives , grapes , oranges , tangerines , and cork. The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Mediterranean Sea as follows: .
Stretching from the Strait of Gibraltar in the west to the entrances to the Dardanelles and the Suez Canal in the east, the Mediterranean Sea is bounded by the coasts of Europe, Africa and Asia, and is divided into two deep basins:. Major cities municipalities with populations larger than , people bordering the Mediterranean Sea are:. The International Hydrographic Organization IHO divides the Mediterranean into a number of smaller waterbodies, each with their own designation from west to east : .
Many of these smaller seas feature in local myth and folklore and derive their names from these associations. In addition to the seas, a number of gulfs and straits are recognised:. Much of the Mediterranean coast enjoys a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. However, most of its southeastern coast has a hot desert climate , and much of Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast has a cold semi-arid climate. Although they are rare, tropical cyclones occasionally form in the Mediterranean Sea , typically in September—November.
Being nearly landlocked affects conditions in the Mediterranean Sea: for instance, tides are very limited as a result of the narrow connection with the Atlantic Ocean. The Mediterranean is characterised and immediately recognised by its deep blue colour. Evaporation greatly exceeds precipitation and river runoff in the Mediterranean, a fact that is central to the water circulation within the basin. Water circulation in the Mediterranean can be described from the surface waters entering from the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar.
These cool and relatively low-salinity waters circulate westwards along the North African coasts. A part of these surface waters does not pass the Strait of Sicily, but deviates towards Corsica before exiting the Mediterranean. The surface waters entering the eastern Mediterranean basin circulate along the Lybian and Israelian coasts.
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Upon reaching the Levantine Sea , the surface waters having experienced warming and saltening from their initial Atlantic state, are now more dense and deepen to form the Levantine Intermediate Waters LIW. Most of the water found anywhere between 50 and m deep in the Mediterranean originates from the LIW. LIW are the only waters passing the Sicily Strait eastwards. After the Strait of Sicily, the intermediate waters circulate along the Italian, French and Spanish coasts before exiting the Mediterranean through the depths of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Deep water in the Mediterranean originates from three main areas: the Adriatic Sea , from which most of the deep water in the eastern Mediterranean originates, the Aegean Sea , and the Gulf of Lion. Deep water formation in the Mediterranean is triggered by strong winter convection fueled by intense cold winds like the Bora. When new deep water is formed, the older waters mix with the overlaying intermediate waters and eventually exit the Mediterranean.
The residence time of water in the Mediterranean is approximately years, making the Mediterranean especially sensitive to climate change. Being a semi-enclosed basin, the Mediterranean experiences transitory events that can affect the water circulation on short time scales. In the Mid s, the Aegean Sea became the main area for deep water formation in the eastern Mediterranean after particularly cold winter conditions. This transitory switch in the origin of deep waters in the eastern Mediterranean was termed Eastern Mediterranean Transient EMT and had major consequences on water circulation of the Mediterranean.
Another example of a transient event affecting the Mediterranean circulation is the periodic inversion of the North Ionian Gyre, which is an anticyclonic ocean gyre observed in the northern part of the Ionian Sea , off the Greek coast. The transition from anticylonic to cyclonic rotation of this gyre changes the origin of the waters fueling it; when the circulation is anticyclonic most common , the waters of the gyre originate from the Adriatic Sea.
When the circulation is cyclonic, the waters originate from the Levantine Sea. These waters have different physical and chemical characteristics, and the periodic inversion of the North Ionian Gyre called Bimodal Oscillating System or BiOS changes the Mediterranean circulation and biogeochemistry around the Adriatic and Levantine regions. Because of the short residence time of waters, the Mediterranean Sea is considered a hot-spot for climate change effects.
The decrease in precipitation over the region could lead to more evaporation ultimately increasing the Mediterranean Sea salinity. In spite of its great biodiversity, concentrations of chlorophyll and nutrients in the Mediterranean Sea are very low, making it one of the most oligotrophic ocean regions in the world.
The Mediterranean Sea fits the definition of a desert as it experiences little precipitation and its nutrient contents are low, making it difficult for plants and animals to develop. There are intense gradients in nutrient concentrations, chlorophyll concentrations and primary productivity in the Mediterranean. Nutrient concentrations in the western part of the basin are approximately two times higher than the concentrations in the eastern basin. The Alboran Sea , close to the Strait of Gibraltar , has a daily primary productivity of about 0.
The productive areas of the Mediterranean Sea are few and have a small spatial extent. High i. The Gulf of Lion has a relatively high productivity because it is an area of high vertical mixing, bringing nutrients to the surface waters that can be used by phytoplankton to produce chlorophyll a. Primary productivity in the Mediterranean is also marked by an intense seasonal variability. In Winter, the strong winds and precipitation over the basin generate vertical mixing , bringing nutrients from the deep waters to the surface, where phytoplankton can convert it into biomass.
Between March and April, spring offers the ideal trade-off between light intensity and nutrient concentrations in surface for a spring bloom to occur. In summer, high atmospheric temperatures lead to the warming of the surface Mediterranean waters. The resulting density difference virtually isolates the surface Mediterranean waters from the rest of the water column and nutrient exchanges are limited.
As a consequence, primary productivity is very low between June and October. Oceanographic expeditions uncovered a characteristic feature of the Mediterranean Sea biogeochemistry: most of the chlorophyll production does not occur in surface, but in sub-surface waters between 80 and meters deep. Redfield demonstrated that most of the world's oceans have an average N:P ratio around However, the Mediterranean Sea has an average N:P between 24 and 29, which translates a widespread phosphorus limitation. Because of its low productivity, plankton assemblages in the Mediterranean Sea are dominated by small organisms such as picophytoplankton and bacteria.
The geologic history of the Mediterranean Sea is complex. Underlain by oceanic crust , the sea basin was once thought to be a tectonic remnant of the ancient Tethys Ocean ; it is now known to be a structurally younger basin, called the Neotethys , which was first formed by the convergence of the African and Eurasian plates during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic.
Because it is a near-landlocked body of water in a normally dry climate, the Mediterranean is subject to intensive evaporation and the precipitation of evaporites. The Messinian salinity crisis started about six million years ago mya when the Mediterranean became landlocked, and then essentially dried up. There are salt deposits accumulated on the bottom of the basin of more than a million cubic kilometres—in some places more than three kilometres thick.
Scientists estimate that the sea was last filled about 5. Water poured in from the Atlantic Ocean through a newly breached gateway now called the Strait of Gibraltar at an estimated rate of about three orders of magnitude one thousand times larger than the current flow of the Amazon River. A characteristic of the coastal Mediterranean are submarine karst springs or vrulja s, which discharge pressurised groundwater into the coastal seawater from below the surface; the discharge water is usually fresh, and sometimes may be thermal.
The Mediterranean basin and sea system was established by the ancient African-Arabian continent colliding with the Eurasian continent. As Africa-Arabia drifted northward, it closed over the ancient Tethys Ocean which had earlier separated the two supercontinents Laurasia and Gondwana. At about that time in the middle Jurassic period roughly million years ago [ dubious — discuss ] a much smaller sea basin, dubbed the Neotethys , was formed shortly before the Tethys Ocean closed at its western Arabian end.
The broad line of collisions pushed up a very long system of mountains from the Pyrenees in Spain to the Zagros Mountains in Iran in an episode of mountain-building tectonics known as the Alpine orogeny. The Neotethys grew larger during the episodes of collisions and associated foldings and subductions that occurred during the Oligocene and Miocene epochs 34 to 5. Accordingly, the Mediterranean basin consists of several stretched tectonic plates in subduction which are the foundation of the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.
Various zones of subduction harbour and form the deepest and most majestic oceanic ridges, east of the Ionian Sea and south of the Aegean. During Mesozoic and Cenozoic times, as the northwest corner of Africa converged on Iberia, it lifted the Betic-Rif mountain belts across southern Iberia and northwest Africa. There the development of the intramontane Betic and Rif basins led to creating two roughly-parallel marine gateways between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Dubbed the Betic and Rifian corridors , they progressively closed during middle and late Miocene times; perhaps several times.
The time of beginning of the MSC was recently estimated astronomically at 5. After the initial drawdown and re-flooding there followed more episodes—the total number is debated—of sea drawdowns and re-floodings for the duration of the MSC. It ended when the Atlantic Ocean last re-flooded the basin—creating the Strait of Gibraltar and causing the Zanclean flood —at the end of the Miocene 5.
Some research has suggested that a desiccation-flooding-desiccation cycle may have repeated several times, which could explain several events of large amounts of salt deposition. The present-day Atlantic gateway, i. As mentioned, two other gateways preceded Gibraltar: the Betic Corridor across southern Spain and the Rifian Corridor across northern Morocco. The former gateway closed about six 6 mya, causing the Messinian salinity crisis MSC ; the latter or possibly both gateways closed during the earlier Tortonian times, causing a " Tortonian salinity crisis " from Both "crises" resulted in broad connections of the mainlands of Africa and Europe, which thereby normalised migrations of flora and fauna—especially large mammals including primates—between the two continents.
The Vallesian crisis indicates a typical extinction and replacement of mammal species in Europe during Tortonian times following climatic upheaval and overland migrations of new species;  see Animation: Messinian salinity crisis and mammal migrations , at right.
The near-completely enclosed configuration of the Mediterranean basin has enabled the oceanic gateways to dominate seawater circulation and the environmental evolution of the sea and basin. Circulation patterns are also affected by several other factors—including climate, bathymetry, and water chemistry and temperature—which are interactive and can induce precipitation of evaporites. Deposits of evaporites accumulated earlier in the nearby Carpathian foredeep during the Middle Miocene , and the adjacent Red Sea Basin during the Late Miocene , and in the whole Mediterranean basin during the MSC and the Messinian age.
Diatomites are regularly found underneath the evaporite deposits, suggesting a connection between their geneses. Today, evaporation of surface seawater output is more than the supply input of fresh water by precipitation and coastal drainage systems, causing the salinity of the Mediterranean to be much higher than that of the Atlantic—so much so that the saltier Mediterranean waters sink below the waters incoming from the Atlantic, causing a two-layer flow across the Gibraltar strait : that is, an outflow submarine current of warm saline Mediterranean water, counterbalanced by an inflow surface current of less saline cold oceanic water from the Atlantic.
The underlying energy grid was as well intended to support a political union between Europe and, at least, the Maghreb part of Africa compare Eurafrika for the later impact and Desertec for a later project with some parallels in the planned grid. The end of the Miocene also marked a change in the climate of the Mediterranean basin. Fossil evidence from that period reveals that the larger basin had a humid subtropical climate with rainfall in the summer supporting laurel forests.
The shift to a "Mediterranean climate" occurred largely within the last three million years the late Pliocene epoch as summer rainfall decreased. The subtropical laurel forests retreated; and even as they persisted on the islands of Macaronesia off the Atlantic coast of Iberia and North Africa, the present Mediterranean vegetation evolved, dominated by coniferous trees and sclerophyllous trees and shrubs with small, hard, waxy leaves that prevent moisture loss in the dry summers. Much of these forests and shrublands have been altered beyond recognition by thousands of years of human habitation.
There are now very few relatively intact natural areas in what was once a heavily wooded region. Because of its latitudinal position and its land-locked configuration, the Mediterranean is especially sensitive to astronomically induced climatic variations, which are well documented in its sedimentary record. Since the Mediterranean is involved in the deposition of eolian dust from the Sahara during dry periods, whereas riverine detrital input prevails during wet ones, the Mediterranean marine sapropel -bearing sequences provide high-resolution climatic information.
These data have been employed in reconstructing astronomically calibrated time scales for the last 9 Ma of the Earth's history, helping to constrain the time of past geomagnetic reversals. Unlike the vast multidirectional ocean currents in open oceans within their respective oceanic zones ; biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea is that of a stable one due to the subtle but strong locked nature of currents which affects favorably, even the smallest macroscopic type of volcanic life form.
The stable marine ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and sea temperature provides a nourishing environment for life in the deep sea to flourish while assuring a balanced aquatic ecosystem excluded from any external deep oceanic factors. As a result of the drying of the sea during the Messinian salinity crisis ,  the marine biota of the Mediterranean are derived primarily from the Atlantic Ocean.
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The North Atlantic is considerably colder and more nutrient-rich than the Mediterranean, and the marine life of the Mediterranean has had to adapt to its differing conditions in the five million years since the basin was reflooded. The Alboran Sea is a transition zone between the two seas, containing a mix of Mediterranean and Atlantic species. The Alboran Sea has the largest population of bottlenose dolphins in the Western Mediterranean, is home to the last population of harbour porpoises in the Mediterranean, and is the most important feeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles in Europe.
The Alboran sea also hosts important commercial fisheries, including sardines and swordfish. The Mediterranean monk seals live in the Aegean Sea in Greece. In , the World Wildlife Fund raised concerns about the widespread drift net fishing endangering populations of dolphins, turtles, and other marine animals such as the ogre cancer. There was a resident population of killer whale in the Mediterranean until the s, when they went extinct, probably due to longterm PCB exposure.
There are still annual sightings of killer whale vagrants. For 4, years, human activity has transformed most parts of Mediterranean Europe, and the "humanisation of the landscape" overlapped with the appearance of the present Mediterranean climate. Based on a broad variety of methods, e. The historical evolution of climate, vegetation and landscape in southern Europe from prehistoric times to the present is much more complex and underwent various changes. For example, some of the deforestation had already taken place before the Roman age.
While in the Roman age large enterprises as the Latifundiums took effective care of forests and agriculture, the largest depopulation effects came with the end of the empire. Some [ who? Also, the climate has usually been unstable and showing various ancient and modern " Little Ice Ages ",  and plant cover accommodated to various extremes and became resilient with regard to various patterns of human activity. Humanisation was therefore not the cause of climate change but followed it. The greatest human-induced changes, however, came after World War II , respectively in line with the 's-syndrome'  as rural populations throughout the region abandoned traditional subsistence economies.
Grove and Rackham suggest that the locals left the traditional agricultural patterns towards taking a role as scenery-setting agents for the then much more important tourism travellers. This resulted in more monotonous, large-scale formations. The region has a variety of geological hazards which have closely interacted with human activity and land use patterns. Among others, in the eastern Mediterranean, the Thera eruption , dated to the 17th or 16th century BC, caused a large tsunami that some experts hypothesise devastated the Minoan civilisation on the nearby island of Crete, further leading some to believe that this may have been the catastrophe that inspired the Atlantis legend.
The region around Vesuvius including the Phlegraean Fields Caldera west of Naples are quite active  and constitute the most densely populated volcanic region in the world where an eruptive event may occur within decades. Vesuvius itself is regarded as quite dangerous due to a tendency towards explosive Plinian eruptions. The large experience of member states and regional authorities has led to exchange on the international level with cooperation of NGOs, states, regional and municipality authorities and private persons. Forest fires are, whether man made or natural, an often recurring and dangerous hazard in the Mediterranean region.
For example, the Messina earthquake and tsunami took more than , lives in Sicily and Calabria and is among the most deadly natural disasters in modern Europe. The opening of the Suez Canal in created the first salt-water passage between the Mediterranean and Red Sea. The Red Sea is higher than the Eastern Mediterranean , so the canal functions as a tidal strait that pours Red Sea water into the Mediterranean.
The Bitter Lakes , which are hyper-saline natural lakes that form part of the canal, blocked the migration of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean for many decades, but as the salinity of the lakes gradually equalised with that of the Red Sea, the barrier to migration was removed, and plants and animals from the Red Sea have begun to colonise the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Red Sea is generally saltier and more nutrient-poor than the Atlantic, so the Red Sea species have advantages over Atlantic species in the salty and nutrient-poor Eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly, Red Sea species invade the Mediterranean biota, and not vice versa; this phenomenon is known as the Lessepsian migration after Ferdinand de Lesseps , the French engineer or Erythrean invasion. The construction of the Aswan High Dam across the Nile River in the s reduced the inflow of freshwater and nutrient-rich silt from the Nile into the Eastern Mediterranean, making conditions there even more like the Red Sea and worsening the impact of the invasive species.
Invasive species have become a major component of the Mediterranean ecosystem and have serious impacts on the Mediterranean ecology, endangering many local and endemic Mediterranean species. This makes the Canal as the first pathway of arrival of " alien " species into the Mediterranean. The impacts of some lessepsian species have proven to be considerable mainly in the Levantine basin of the Mediterranean, where they are replacing native species and becoming a "familiar sight". According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature definition, as well as Convention on Biological Diversity CBD and Ramsar Convention terminologies, they are alien species, as they are non-native non-indigenous to the Mediterranean Sea, and they are outside their normal area of distribution which is the Indo-Pacific region.
When these species succeed in establishing populations in the Mediterranean Sea, compete with and begin to replace native species they are "Alien Invasive Species", as they are an agent of change and a threat to the native biodiversity. In the context of CBD, "introduction" refers to the movement by human agency, indirect or direct, of an alien species outside of its natural range past or present. The Suez Canal, being an artificial man made canal, is a human agency. Lessepsian migrants are therefore "introduced" species indirect, and unintentional. Whatever wording is chosen, they represent a threat to the native Mediterranean biodiversity, because they are non-indigenous to this sea.
In recent years, the Egyptian government's announcement of its intentions to deepen and widen the canal have raised concerns from marine biologists , fearing that such an act will only worsen the invasion of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean, facilitating the crossing of the canal for yet additional species. In recent decades, the arrival of exotic species from the tropical Atlantic has become a noticeable feature.
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Whether this reflects an expansion of the natural area of these species that now enter the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar strait, because of a warming trend of the water caused by global warming ; or an extension of the maritime traffic; or is simply the result of a more intense scientific investigation, is still an open question. While not as intense as the "lessepsian" movement, the process may be scientific interest and may therefore warrant increased levels of monitoring.
Coastal ecosystems also appear to be threatened by sea level rise, especially enclosed seas such as the Baltic , the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. These seas have only small and primarily east-west movement corridors , which may restrict northward displacement of organisms in these areas. Pollution in this region has been extremely high in recent years. One of them is the Mediterranean monk seal which is considered to be among the world's most endangered marine mammals.
The Mediterranean is also plagued by marine debris. A study of the seabed using trawl nets around the coasts of Spain, France and Italy reported a particularly high mean concentration of debris; an average of 1, items per km 2. Some of the world's busiest shipping routes are in the Mediterranean Sea. It is estimated that approximately , merchant vessels of more than tonnes cross the Mediterranean Sea each year—about one third of the world's total merchant shipping. These ships often carry hazardous cargo, which if lost would result in severe damage to the marine environment. The discharge of chemical tank washings and oily wastes also represent a significant source of marine pollution.
The Mediterranean Sea constitutes 0. Accidental oil spills happen frequently with an average of 10 spills per year. A major oil spill could occur at any time in any part of the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Sea is arguably among the most culturally diverse block basin sea regions in the world, with a unique combination of pleasant climate, beautiful coastline, rich history and various cultures.
The Mediterranean region is the most popular tourist destination in the world—attracting approximately one third of the world's international tourists. Tourism is one of the most important sources of income for many Mediterranean countries regardless of the man-made geopolitical conflicts that harbour coastal nations. In that regard, authorities around the Mediterranean have made it a point to extinguish rising man-made chaotic zones that would affect the economies, societies in neighboring coastal countries, let alone shipping routes. Naval and rescue components in the Mediterranean Sea are considered one of the very best due to the quick intercooperation of various Naval Fleets within proximity of each other.
Unlike the vast open Oceans , the closed nature of the Mediterranean Sea provides a much more adaptable naval initiative among the coastal countries to provide effective naval and rescue missions, considered the safest and regardless of any man-made or natural disaster. Tourism also supports small communities in coastal areas and islands by providing alternative sources of income far from urban centers.
However, tourism has also played major role in the degradation of the coastal and marine environment. Rapid development has been encouraged by Mediterranean governments to support the large numbers of tourists visiting the region each year. But this has caused serious disturbance to marine habitats such as erosion and pollution in many places along the Mediterranean coasts. Tourism often concentrates in areas of high natural wealth, causing a serious threat to the habitats of endangered Mediterranean species such as sea turtles and monk seals.
Reductions in natural wealth may reduce incentives for tourists to visit. Fish stock levels in the Mediterranean Sea are alarmingly low. There are clear indications that catch size and quality have declined, often dramatically, and in many areas larger and longer-lived species have disappeared entirely from commercial catches.
Large open water fish like tuna have been a shared fisheries resource for thousands of years but the stocks are now dangerously low. Ksamil Islands , Albania. Marmaris , Turquoise Coast , Turkey. Burj Islam Beach, Latakia , Syria. Old city of Ibiza Town , Spain. Sunset at the Deir al-Balah beach, Gaza Strip. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Mediterranean disambiguation. Main article: History of the Mediterranean region. A satellite image showing the Mediterranean Sea. The Strait of Gibraltar can be seen in the bottom left north-west quarter of the image; to its left is the Iberian Peninsula in Europe , and to its right, the Maghreb in Africa.
The Dardanelles strait in Turkey. For a more comprehensive list, see List of Mediterranean countries. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. International Telecommunication Union. United Nations. International Center for Promotion of Enterprises. International Labour and Employment Relations Association. Crans Montana Forum. Council of Europe. African Union. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
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