Groundwater entering the Mediterranean Sea could be 15 times greater than water entering the sea from rivers according to new research.
Co-authored by Professor Pere Masque, visiting Professor at The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute, the research has important implications for future marine studies of the world’s oceans.
It is estimated 30,000 to 500,000 million cubic metres of groundwater is entering the Mediterranean each year - a colossal volume of water not previously taken into account in marine research.
Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) the study quantified submarine groundwater discharge by measuring levels of a natural Radium isotope in the Sea.
Importantly, the groundwater discharge also introduces huge amounts of nutrients into the ocean including millions of tonnes of nitrogen and silica.
Professor Masque said the groundwater would also play a crucial role in importing other dissolved compounds including carbon, iron and other micronutrients.
"The presence of these nutrients and dissolved compounds could have a large influence on coastal environments," Professor Masque said.
The project was led by researchers from Professor Masque’s home university, the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Professor Masque is a Gledden Visiting Fellow with the Institute of Advanced Studies and an Adjunct Professor at Edith Cowan University's School of Natural Sciences.
The original article can be accessed at the PNAS website.
Professor Pere Masque (UWA Oceans Institute) (+61 4) 75 238 922
David Stacey (UWA Media Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229/ (+61 4) 32 637 716