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The Mediterranean Rhodes Gyre: modelled impacts of climate change, acidification and fishing
van Leeuwen, S.M.; Beecham, J.; García-García, L.M.; Thorpe, R. (2022). The Mediterranean Rhodes Gyre: modelled impacts of climate change, acidification and fishing. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 690: 31-50.
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630; e-ISSN 1616-1599, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Rhodes Gyre; Ecosystem modelling; Climate change; Fishing pressure; European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model; ERSEM; Ecopath with Ecosim

Authors  Top 
  • van Leeuwen, S.M., more
  • Beecham, J.
  • García-García, L.M.
  • Thorpe, R.

    The Mediterranean Rhodes Gyre is a cyclonic gyre with high primary production due to local upwelling of nutrients and occasional deep overturning up to 1 km depth. This nutrient-rich state is in sharp contrast to other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean which are oligotrophic. Here we investigated the upwelling system central to the Rhodes Gyre and the impact of different stressors like meteorological changes, acidification and fishing pressure up to the year 2100. A water column model spanning the physical, chemical and biological system up to top predators (GOTM-ERSEM-BFM-EwE) was used to simulate the pelagic environment under single and combined stressors. Results show that due to increasing winter temperatures, deep overturning events will become more rare in the future until they stop occurring around 2060 under the Paris-agreement climate scenario (RCP4.5) or around 2040 under the business-as-usual climate scenario (RCP8.5). Stratification will become stronger as temperature effects outweigh salinity effects in the surface mixed layer. Together with the lack of deep overturning, this stronger stratification limits the nutrient supply to the euphotic zone, significantly reducing primary production. Phytoplankton species shift towards smaller species as nutrients become more scarce, mimicking the situation found currently on the edge of the gyre. Climatic changes and fishing pressure will affect higher trophic levels in an additive way for some species (sardines, dolphins), while in a synergistic way for others (anchovy, mackerel). Acidification impacts are negligible. Fish stocks will reduce significantly under all scenarios involving climate change effects: ~30% under scenarios imposing RCP4.5 and ~40% under scenarios imposing RCP8.5. The beneficial impact of maximum sustained yield-level fishing is very limited, indicating a need for mitigating measures beyond fleet control.

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