After a successful year-long pilot, a research station – the first of its kind in the area – will be permanently moored 50 km west of Haifa to study the Mediterranean Sea.
The Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute (IOLR) and its Israeli university partners began collecting information from the sea on The Deep Sea Research Station, commonly known as Deeplev, in November 2016. A proven success, they are now making the marine station permanent.
Deeplev’s main team consists of Bar-Ilan Professors Yishai Weinstein from the Department of Geography and Environmen, and Ilana Berman-Frank from the faculty of life sciences, as well as Prof. Barak Herut and Dr. Timor Katz from the IOLR. Partners include researchers from several other Israeli universities, in a variety of fields in the marine sciences, who also conduct studies at the station.
Anchored to the seabed at a water depth of 1500 m, Deeplev contains many state-of-the-art measuring instruments, spread over a cable running from the seabed almost to the sea surface.
Environmental changes in the open sea constitute one extremely important area being monitored by the station’s personnel. Researchers are learning how stresses such as the re-digging of the Suez Canal and the construction of desalination plants on Israel’s coast are affecting the ocean basin. The scientists also study the sea’s response to pollution events, such as those connected to offshore drilling (production wells and gas platforms), which will be a growing industry in Israel in the coming years.
At a seminar held several days ago at the IOLR in Haifa to mark the conclusion of the pilot and to present preliminary findings, Weinstein emphasized that the station will also aid in the study of issues that are of more international concern, such as global warming. The eastern Mediterranean waters are unusually warm, even at a depth of more than 1,000 meters, and this makes it a natural lab that will enable the prediction of oceans’ behavior after being subjected to years of warming.
This area of the sea is also excellent for studying the “biological pump,” a natural process that carries carbon from the sea surface to the deep sea, thereby regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – a very important factor in global warming.
By: Beth Stern, United with Israel
With files from Bar-Ilan University
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