Balearic waters are to come under close scrutiny from Space. On March 1 a team of scientists and oceanographers will start studying Balearic waters via the Envisat European satellite. The research project was presented yesterday by Damia Gomis, professor of physics at the Balearic University and Sebastiá Montserrat, member of the Interdisciplinary Oceanography Group in Palma. The main object of the project, using the satellite built by the European Space Agency, is to carry out the in depth study of Mediterranean waters in the Balearics. Four buoys, built in Munich, will start to be strategically placed in waters off the north east of Minorca on March 7. Each weighing 2.5 tonnes plus the weight of all the technical instruments, will be anchored to the sea bed with a dead weight of three tonnes. The four buoys, to be placed by the oceanography research ship García del Cid will be fully operational and in contact with the satellite by the middle of the month, which is when the study will start. The buoys will allow oceanographers to collect data about a number of phenomena from sea currents, sea levels and pollution to fish stocks. The buoys will transmit data to a control centre in Ciutadella and then on to a data base centre in Germany via mobile telephone. The satellite will have completed its research by mid December or early January next year, by which point the European Space Agency's satellite will be one of the key instruments in the study of global climate change. Gomis said that, in the mid-term, sea levels around the Balearics will rise by about 20 centimetres, which will obviously have important consequences for the Balearic region. “Over time, sea levels have varied by hundreds of metres, but we're talking about thousands of years, what is worrying today though is that the process has speeded up because of human intervention,” and the extent of human intervention on the Mediterranean is what the satellite will discover by the end of the year.

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