THEMO - Eastern Mediterranean Ocean Observatory: influences of the eastern Mediterranean gyre on current structure and biomass distribution

Steven Francis DiMarco1, Anthony Hayden Knap2, Shari Ann Yvon-Lewis3, John Walpert3, Roee Diamant4 and Ilana Berman-Frank5, (1)Texas A&M University, College Station, United States, (2)Texas A&M University College Station, College Station, TX, United States, (3)Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States, (4)University of Haifa, Hatter Department of Marine Technology, Haifa, Israel, (5)University of Haifa, Department of Marine Biology, Haifa, Israel
The Texas A&M – University of Haifa Eastern Mediterranean Sea Ocean Observatory (THEMO) is located in the Levantine Basin of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The observatory consists of two moored surface buoys, one buoy is deployed in the shallow coastal zone (125 m), 15 km from the coast, and one buoy is in deep (1500 m) water approximately 50 km from the northern Israeli coast near Haifa. The deep location has an additional moored profiler system outfitted with hydrographic, chemical, and biological sensor packages and a separate bottom mounted sediment trap. Each buoy is equipped with meteorological sensors (wind speed, direction, radiometer, pressure, temperature, humidity) and oceanographic sensors (CTD, ADCP, thermistor/pressure chain, fluorometers [CDOM, chlorophyll], surface waves). Data are reported in near real-time to a shore station via a two-way RF communications system and freely distributed to the community. The shallow system has been deployed since July 2017; the deep system since May 2019. The system provides near real-time observations of the environmentally sensitive region of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which is especially important given recent offshore natural gas discoveries. Scientifically, the system is designed to investigate the processes that control the vertical and horizontal gradients of variability of relevant ecological parameters. Observations from the first year reveal a variety of processes related to the influence of the eastern Mediterranean Sea (Levantine Basin) on the vertical structure of currents, distribution of oceanic photosynthetic biomass, and water mass mixing. As low and mid-latitude semi-enclosed basins are often associated with human population centers, sustained and routine environmental observations are important to the sustainability of living resources, coastal management, and the predictability of long-term trends that can impact human well-being.