The deep water of the western Mediterranean Sea is known to have become warmer and saltier since about the 1950s. The causes of these changes have, however, not yet been sactisfactorily determined. Previous studies speculated on decreasing precipitation, greenhouse warming and/or anthropogenic reduction of the freshwater flux into the eastern Mediterranean. Here we report on results from a new oceanographic database of the western Mediterranean Sea together with determinations of longterm changes of the fresh water budget. We analyzed temperature and salinity data of the past 40 years to detect deviations from the longterm average. Certain areas and depth ranges are showing increases in temperature or salinity some of which have been found earlier and some which are new. From the regional and vertical distribution we conclude that the observed increases of temperature and:salinity in the western Mediterranean Sea are caused both by changes in atmospheric conditions as described by the NAO-index and by the regulation of Spanish rivers.
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