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Italy’s ‘Smart Bay’ seeks to tackle Mediterranean climate change By Reuters


© Reuters. Picture taken September 15, 2021, of mussels and spirographs underwater at the Smart Bay Santa Teresa in Lerici (Italy). Picture taken September 15, 2021. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo.

By Alex Fraser

LERICI, Italy (Reuters) – On Italy’s Ligurian coast, biologists and environmentalists are working to tackle the effects of climate change in the Mediterranean with help from a so-called “Smart Bay”.

According to marine biologists, the Mediterranean is heating up and becoming more acidic. This would impact the habitat of many indigenous species as well as the weather system and cause more tornadoes.    

Santa Teresa Smart Bay is an area in the northwest coast that’s popular for diving and tourism. It houses Italy’s first “living” underwater laboratory. Here, scientists can use bryozoans, aquatic invertebrates, and other organisms to monitor water quality.

It was selected by the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development of Italy (ENEA) and National Research Council (CNR), as a location for monitoring the seawater.

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This data is used to study extreme weather phenomena that are increasing in frequency in France, Spain, Italy and Spain.

    Franco Reseghetti (ENEA researcher, ocean expert) said that the Mediterranean Sea is now a “hot spot” of global ocean activity. He has monitored the Mediterranean’s temperature fluctuations for many years.

His models are used to forecast extreme weather conditions on the coastlines, such as the Mediterranean tornado or “Medicane”. They also predict changes in the atmospheric lower layers due to sea-level rise.


Reseghetti said while data gathering is getting better, researchers still do not know why things appear to be changing or how to stop it.

    He told Reuters TV that the importance of the sea for Italy must be considered. However, this should not just apply to Italy.

    These extreme events ought to make us realize that maybe it is time for people to get serious about addressing climate change.

He made these comments ahead of the November COP26 global climate change negotiations in Scotland. Here, countries will try to set targets for reducing global warming.

They are particularly concerned about the PH level in the Mediterranean. These levels are crucial for both the health and well-being of the marine ecosystem and their inhabitants.

Chiara Lombardi, a marine biologist, said that PH is closely linked to ocean acidification and oxygen levels. Hypoxia is a major problem in the Mediterranean ecosystem, including aquaculture.

Bryozoans are confined to sedentary colonies, while marine polychaeteworms grow their shells from carbonates found in water. Scientists can determine how animals have slowed their growth due to an increase in acidity, which is linked to high temperatures and pollution.  

    It covers 0.7% of global ocean surface. The Mediterranean is semi-enclosed and has only one connection to Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar. This gives it its unique qualities. Because of the low flow rate of rivers reaching it, there’s very little swell. Over-fishing has been an issue as well as pollution.

    Lombardi plans to also develop Smart Bay in order to collaborate with fishermen and tourist industries to improve their eco-friendly work.

    She stated that the long-term goal is to make this bay a zero-carbon destination.