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Climate change impacts in transitional water systems in the Mediterranean


Scientific assessment of coastal ecosystems vulnerability to climate and anthropogenic modifications. Explore adaptation measures.


The MEDCODYN project was focused on the development of integrated approaches to the monitoring and management of coastal lakes, wetlands, and lagoons in the Mediterranean. Project scientists from Italy, France and Morocco worked closely together during the two year project to develop:

-          an information database of biogeochemical and climate parameters,

-          ecological models to assess the vulnerability of coastal ecosystems to climate change,

-          adaptive measures for three coastal ecosystems to take advantage of expected changes in climate and ecosystem resource use.

The completion of these activities were facilitated through a series of scientific meetings between project partners, scenario workshops with local and national stakeholders, collaborative field research and collaborations with related projects and scientists throughout the EU. There were three central workpackage, each requiring an intense exchange of ideas and experiences between project scientists.

WP1. The Medcodyn database structure was completed in May 2009 and the database has been on line since, http://www.medcodyn.unisi.it/. The Medcodyn research team has been uploading data continuously and used the data to examine temporal trends in chemical, biological and physical parameters in the three coastal sites in France (Etang de Vaccarès), Italy (Pontine Lakes) and Morocco (Sidi Boughaba). Data include information about changes in fish stock, bird populations, pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, wind speed, water and air temperature, and precipitation. Data are available in some sites from 1990 while some data are more recent.

WP2. To best focus the assessment tools being developed in the project, local scenario workshops were performed in Sabaudia (Italy, December 2008) and Mehdia (Morocco, June 2009), with the active participation of stakeholders, operators and researchers. A SWOT approach, with an objective to move towards an optimum scenario for 2050 and considering intermediate climate changes scenarios and past management trends was used. For the Etang Vaccarès, a series of meetings with regional decision makers and associations was held in 2009 and 2010. Common threats were perceived for all three coastal ecosystems (climate change, catchment overexploitation and poor coordination between scientists and decision makers). However, clear differences in the political, socio-economic and ecological characteristics were evident and therefore different tools and adaptation options were found to be necessary.

Ecological and hydrological models were developed in the project to study management options and potential impacts of climate change in coastal ecosystems. TdV and CRA researchers collaborated towards the development of hydrodynamic models of the Vaccarès and Fogliano sites. In Fogliano Lake, a dissolved oxygen model was developed by CRA to examine the impacts of changes in water temperature, sea/lake exchange, wind stress and organic matter load on oxygen concentrations in the water column and sediment, and in particular with respect to anoxia. An organic matter / photodegradation model was developed by UNISI using data from Vaccarès, Fogliano and Sidi Boughaba with present day optical conditions measured in each ecosystem and estimated changes in cloudiness until 2050.

For Sidi Boughaba (Morocco), the lack of long term data made modeling and trends analysis difficult. Researchers from UC together with scientists from TdV, CRA and UNISI performed an intensive baseline analysis of Sidi Boughaba in May 2009. These measurements were then used to set up a long term monitoring plan to examine monthly trends in key ecological, hydrological and chemical characteristics of the lake.

WP3. Past and future trends in ecosystem dynamics, ecosystem services and climate were used to explore adaptation measures for the three coastal ecosystems studied. Through a process of consultation with stakeholders, indicator and model development, different adaptation options were identified in relation to their potential success within the context of local and regional environmental change. Given the importance of the local actors and context, we focused on measures that have a more regional/provincial/municipal character. The time horizon was set to 2050, even though the models developed in the second workpackage have a potential which goes beyond this horizon. Most stakeholders consider a forty year time horizon as long term, while most climate scenarios consider 2050 as the medium term. Options examined include:

For the Pontine Lagoons

Option 1. Alternative aquaculture activities (shellfish),

Option 2. Hydraulic modifications to freshwater/salt water inflows,

Option 3. Harvesting of aquatic macrophytes;

For Etang de Vaccarès

Option 1: Reduction of the inflow of agricultural drainage water into the Vaccarès by changing management of agriculture (30% reduction) or polderization (100% reduction for the FUM basin)

Option 2: Widening the hydraulic connectivity of the lagoon system to the sea .

Option 3: Restoring ancient communication between the Eastern lagoon system and the sea.

For Sidi Boughaba Lake

Option 1. long term monitoring plan for the lake and wetland,

Option 2. Establish a management plan of the site taking into consideration catchment issues

The project results were disseminated to regional and EU decision makers through specific publications in policy journals. On a local scale, stakeholders and decision makers continue to collaborate with project researchers through formal and informal means. Numerous publications in international peer reviewed scientific journals have been published or are under review. In addition project scientists have made numerous presentations in international conferences.


Feedback from local and regional stakeholders was positive and collaborations are continuing in all three study sites. The instruments developed in the project are being used for further investigation and management by the stakeholders.

The approaches used for the scenario development and the methodologies developed to analyse present and future scenarios on ecosystem parameters and services have a wide application in the Mediterranean. The environmental and socio-economic drivers identified in the project are common to many transitional aquatic ecosystems in the region. Therefore, the adaptation options provide useful case studies for numerous coastal lakes, wetlands and lagoons throughout the region.

Differences between south and north Mediterranean situations are clearly evident, as major differences in monitoring infrastructure and continuity persist. However, problems with dissolved oxygen, elevated salinity and hydrodynamics are common to many systems.

The project provided an important opportunity for collaboration and scientific exchange. Through the project activities, the original network of scientists was extended to include other scientists from around the Mediterranean. This expanded network is presently working together to develop collaboration projects and support knowledge exchange. Project related dissemination is continuing to make the Medcodyn developments and results available to a wider audience.


Rhazi, L., P. Grillas, & S. Loiselle, 2010. Impacts des changements climatiques sur les eaux de transition dans le bassin méditerranéen. Présentation orale.
Réunion Circle_Med, Rabat, 14 décembre 2010

Chauvelon, P., M. Pichaud & A. Loubet, 2010. Les Contraintes hydroclimatiques pour la gestion hydraulique et saline du système Vaccarès. Poster. Réunion Circle_Med, Rabat, 14 décembre 2010

Bartocci A., M. Falcucci & V. Hull, 2010. Hydrodynamique du lac De Fogliano: impact des changements climatiques. Poster. Réunion Circle_Med, Rabat, 14 décembre 2010

Rhazi L. & Grillas P. 2010. Activités du projet MedCodyn dans le site de Sidi Boughaba. Bulletin de liaison de la SPANA, n° 27 : p 16.

Dissemination to the international scientific community Scientific publications

Bracchini L., A.M. Dattilo, S.A. Loiselle, A. Tognazzi, V. Hull, C. Rossi. 2008. Temporal and spatial dynamics of inherent and apparent optical properties in a shallow coastal lake (Fogliano Lagoon, Circeo National Park). Transitional Water Bulletin, 3:1-24,

Borghini F., A. Colacevich, N. Bergamino, P. Micarelli, A. M. Dattilo, S. Focardi, S. E. Focardi, S. A. Loiselle. 2009. The microalgae Tetraselmis Suecica in Mesocosms under different light regimes, Chemistry And Ecology 5:345-357

Loiselle S. A., L. Bracchini, A. M. Dattilo, M. Ricci, A. Tognazzi, A. Cozar, and C. Rossi. 2009. The optical characterization of chromophoric dissolved organic matter using the wavelength distribution of absorption spectral slopes. Limnology and Oceanography 54: 590-597

Bracchini L., A.M. Dattilo V. Hull S.A. Loiselle A. Tognazzi, C. Rossi 2009. Modelling Upwelling Irradiance using Secchi disk depth in lake ecosystems. Journal of Limnology, 68: 83-91, ISSN: 1129-5767

Loiselle S. A., L. Bracchini, A. Cózar, A. M. Dattilo, A. Tognazzi, and C. Rossi. 2009. Variability in photobleaching rates and their related impacts on optical conditions in subtropical lakes Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2009.02.002)

Galgani L., A. Tognazzi, C. Rossi, M. Ricci, J. A. Galvez, A. M. Dattilo, A. Cozar, L. Bracchini, S. A. Loiselle, 2010 Assessing the optical changes in dissolved organic matter in humic lakes by spectral slope distributions, Journal of
Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2010.10.001

Bracchini L., A. M Dattilo, V. Hull, S. A. Loiselle, L. Nannicini, M. P. Picchi, M. Ricci, C. Santinelli, A. Seritti, A. Tognazzi, C. Rossi. 2010 Dynamics of chromophoric dissolved organic matter in a stratified mountain lake,
accepted for publication in Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences

Bouahim S., L. Rhazi B. Amami N. Sahib, M. Rhazi, A. Waterkeyn, A. Zouahri, F Mesleard., S.D., Muller P. Grillas 2010. Impact of grazing on the species richness of plant communities in Mediterranean temporary pools (western Morocco). Comptes Rendus Biologies 333: 670–679

Sahib N., L. Rhazi & P. Grillas (in press) Post-disturbance dynamics of plant communities in a Mediterranean temporary pool (Western Morocco): Effects of disturbance size. Botany

Rhazi L., M. Rhazi, P., Grillas, N. Sahib & M.Tellal (sous presse): Richesse et dynamique des communautés végétales des plans d’eau temporaires de la zone humide de Sidi Boughaba (Côte Atlantique marocaine). AGR : African
Geoscience Review

Höhener, P., Comoretto, L., Al Housari, F., Chauvelon, P., Pichaud, M., Cherain, Y., Chiron, S. 2010. Modelling anthropogenic substances in coastal wetlands: application to herbicides in the Camargue (France). Environmental
Modelling and Software, 25: 1837-1844.

Loubet, A., Pichaud, M., Chauvelon P., 2010.. Gestion hydraulique et flux hydro-sédimentaires dans l’Ile de Camargue. LA HOUILLE BLANCHE/N° 6-
2010, DOI 10.1051/lhb/2010064.


Sahib N. (2010). Impact des perturbations sur la dynamique et la richesse des communautés de plantes des mares temporaires du Maroc occidental.

Thèse de l’Université Hassan II Aïn Chock, Casablanca. Sorci, F. (2010). Analisi dei processi fotochimici della materia organica disciolta (DOM) indotti dalla radiazione solare in sistemi acquatici.

Doctorate thesis in Environmental Chemistry, University of Siena
Bartolucci, A. (est. 2012). Modelling climate change scenarios in shallow lakes

Doctorate thesis in Environmental Chemistry, University of Siena

In review

Spatial and temporal dynamics of inherent and apparent optical properties. The possible competition for spectral and PAR irradiance between epilimnetic optical active particles and metalimnetic phytoplankton, by Luca Bracchini, Arduino Massimo Dattilo, Margherita Falcucci, Vincent Hull, Steven Arthur Loiselle, Antonio Tognazzi, Claudio Rossi

In preparation

Modelling climate change scenarios on the Lake of Fogliano (Italy) by A. Bartocci M. Falcucci, V. Hull (2011)

Species richness and dynamics of the plant communities in temporary waterbodies in the merja of Sidi Boughaba (Moroccan Atlantic coast) by L. Rhazi, M. Rhazi, P. Grillas, N. Sahib & M. Tellal

Variability in CDOM photodegradation rates and possible impacts of Changing atmospheric turbidity, by Luca Bracchini, et al

Water management and sediment fluxes in a coastal Mediterranean lagoon: a quantitative approach for a 16 years period in the Rhone Delta, France, by Aurélien Loubet, Olivier Boutron, Patrick Höhener, Marc Pichaud, Philippe Chauvelon.

The dynamics and resilience of lagoon ecosystem facing global change: modeling the impact of adaptive management to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise on the Vaccarès lagoon, by A. Loubet, P. Chauvelon & P. Grillas.

Presentations at international meetings.

Chauvelon, P., Pichaud, M., Loubet A., 2009. Hydro-climatic constraints for hydraulic and saline management of the Vaccarès hydro-system, Rhône delta. 4th European Conference on Coastal Lagoon research, Montpellier, 14-18 December 2009.

Loubet, A., Pichaud, M., Chauvelon, P., Sandoz, A., Chérain, Y. and Coulet, Y., 2009. Quantifying hydro-saline and sedimentary fluxes in the Vaccarès hydro system. 4th European Conference on Coastal Lagoon research, Montpellier,
14-18 December 2009.

Rhazi L., Rhazi M., Grillas P., Sahib N. & Tellal M. : Richesse et dynamique des communautés végétales des plans d’eau temporaires de la zone humide de Sidi Boughaba (Côte Atlantique marocaine). Colloque international ECOVEG-5 ; 8-10 avril 2009 Gembloux (Belgique).

Rhazi L., P. Grillas P., Hull V., Falcucci M., Rhazi M., Loiselle S.A., Bracchini L., Tognazzi A., Chauvelon P., Loubet A., Dattilo A.M., 2009. Preliminary assessment of a coastal lake, Sidi Boughaba, in NW Morocco. European Conference on Coastal Lagoon Research Montpellier 14-18 December 2009, France

Rhazi L., P. Grillas, V. Hull, M. Falcucci, Rhazi M., S. Loiselle, P. Chauvelon, L. Bracchini, A. Tognazzi, S. Er-Riyahi, A. Loubet & A. M. Dattilo, 2010. Structure des communautés de macrophytes aquatiques de la zone humide de Sidi Boughaba. 5èmes Journées Oiseaux d’Eau et Zones Humides du Maroc, Rabat 23-25 Février 2010

Sahib N., Rhazi L. & Grillas P. Effet de la dominance d’une hélophyte compétitive Juncus maritimus sur la richesse des communautés de plantes d’une mare temporaire méditerranéenne (NW du Maroc). 5èmes Journées Oiseaux d’Eau et Zones Humides du Maroc, Rabat 23-25 Février 2010

Sahib N., Rhazi L. & Grillas P., 2010. Composition, structure et dynamique intra et interannuelle de la végétation de deux mares temporaires du Nord ouest du Maroc. 6èmes Journées Nationales de Biodiversité, Rabat 22-23 décembre 2010.

P. Grillas (TdV) participated to a joint meeting with the project CLIM-BIO-CLIMMED-NET in Montpellier in January 2009. S. Loiselle (UNISI) presented the work of the Medcodyn project at a seminar at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGLAS, Nanjing, August 2010)


Claudio Rossi: rossi@unisi.it

Web site



Project Agenda

MEDCODYN 1st scientific project meeting

Address: Sabaudia, Italy
Date: 19 Dec 2008 / 21 Dec 2008

MEDCODYN 2nd scientific project meeting

Address: Sidi Boughaba, Morocco
Date: 24 June 2009 / 25 June 2009

Medcodyn meeting with stakeholders and managers for the development of management plan and initialisation of the long term monitoring programme (early april)

Early April - Medcodyn meeting in Sidi Boughaba with stakeholders and managers for the development of management plan and initialisation of the long
Address: Sidi Boughaba
Contact: loiselle@unisi.it
Date: 01 April 2010 / 10 April 2010

Medcodyn collaborative research meeting and field work to study recent changes in biogeochemical dynamics of the Vaccarès and related lagoons (early June)

Date: 01 June 2010 / 15 June 2010

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