42 The Mediterranean Is Getting Saltier: From the Past to the Future

  • Nikolaos SklirisEmail author
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 9)


The Mediterranean region is getting drier. Evaporation has been steadily increasing over the last few decades driven by the rapid surface warming implying an increase of latent heat loss from the sea surface. A long-term decrease of river freshwater discharge has been also observed since the early 1960s, reflecting the impact of both river damming and recent climate change. As a result of the net evaporation increasing rate, the salt content of the basin has been also strongly increasing over the last four to five decades with this salinification signal rapidly travelling from the surface into the deep layers via the intense Mediterranean overturning circulation. Long-term increases were also observed in the salinity of the Levantine Intermediate Water layer throughout the basin, which strongly influences cold-water coral habitats and distribution. Climate models predict that the present warming and salinification trends will be accelerated over this century and they are expected to have strong impacts on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.


Mediterranean Sea Salinity Water cycle Evaporation River runoff Cold-water corals 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography CentreUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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