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The Mediterranean is rapidly warming and becoming more acidic, and sea levels are rising

The Mediterranean Sea is getting warmer, but also more acidic and dirtier. In particular, the concentration of plastic and mercury in it is increasing, according to a new study by the Israel Oceanographic Institute, which The Times of Israel writes about.

The report is based on a series of scientific studies conducted on the continental shelf along the coast of Israel. The researchers found that the upper layer of water in the Mediterranean Sea continues to warm by about 0.13 degrees Celsius per year due to global warming. This is more than twice as much as the World Climate Organization predicted.

Scientists explain the rapid rate of heating of the Mediterranean Sea because it is a relatively small body of water compared to the oceans. In addition, the southeastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, which borders Israel, is hot and salty because the water from the Atlantic Ocean has time to heat up before it reaches the Israeli coast.

From 1992 to 2022, the level of the Mediterranean Sea rose by approximately 14.59 centimeters. Global sea level rise is caused by the heating and expansion of seawater and the melting of glaciers, which also affects the Mediterranean Sea.

Another alarming trend is the gradual acidification of seawater. Its rate is about 0.003 pH per year. This is explained by the penetration of an increased amount of carbon dioxide from the air into the water. Water oxidation affects various biological processes in the sea, in particular, it destroys the minerals that coral reefs and mollusks need to create their skeletons and shells.

The report also states that most marine pollution indicators have remained stable compared to previous years. But the researchers noted an “alarming upward trend” in mercury pollution in the northern part of Haifa Bay. This is probably due to mercury entering the groundwater from an abandoned factory in the region.

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