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National Centre for Marine Sciences

National Centre for Marine Sciences

Establishment and mission

The National Center for Marine Sciences-CNRSL was established in 1977. The decision to establish the centre (1975) was a national response to the 1972 Stockholm Conference. The centre is a recognized institute within the Mediterranean network of marine centers and is integrated in a number of regional and international activities.


Research activities at the center focus on the following themes:


  • Monitoring of the entire coastal zone in the framework of a national monthly monitoring program.
  • Biogeochemical measurements and time-series surveys in the context of the climate change and ocean acidification.
  • Detection of the pollution sources on the coastline and assessment of the transfer and bioaccumulation of chemical compounds in the coastal and marine ecosystems.
  • Evaluation of the marine species (from plankton to cetaceans) and their habitats, and assessment of the migratory species and their influences on local ecosystems.
  • Ichtyological studies and fishery stock evaluation.

Within this framework, the actual skills cover the following aspects: Operational and physical oceanography, hydrological parameters, climate change and biogeochemistry, paleontology, marine biology, primary and secondary production and biodiversity, marine water and sediment chemistry and bacteriological contamination.

Research activities covered

Monitoring of the Lebanese coastal area
The Center conducts an environmental monitoring program for coastal water quality in order to study the environmental status of the Lebanese littoral and to evaluate its level of alteration. For this purpose, measurements of physico-chemical, bacteriological and biological parameters are carried out every month in 25 sites reflecting the geomorphological and environmental modifications of the Lebanese coastal area. A map showing the different sites with their updated environmental status is published every year.

Chemical contamination

Projects related to chemical contamination by heavy trace elements and hydrocarbons are undertaken in different sites of the Lebanese coast. The multiple types of pollution alter and cause crucial variation of physico-chemical and biological characteristics in seawater and sediments of many hot spots along the Lebanese coastal zone (Beirut, Tripoli, Antelias, Selaata, etc).

Marine Hydrography

Projects aim to determine the interaction between hydrobiological and biological parameters in different marine sites by studying vertical, horizontal and seasonal variations of water temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll-a and nutrients. The two main physical characteristics of seawater (temperature and salinity) play crucial role in the survival and distribution of faunal and floral species through water column and in the variation of seawater density which is a major component affecting the movement of water masses as well as the vertical upwelling and mixing of deeper water, rich in nutrient, with the surface water considered oligotrophic in our area. The sudden and unexpected variations of these parameters may be related to a polluting factor or to an unusual modification that might be related to a water masses circulation and/or to climate change.

Marine biodiversity

Projects on biodiversity are focused on primary and secondary production (phyto and zooplankton), mapping and analysis of the biodiversity and the occurrence of invasive species. Marine biodiversity is under significant pressure, mainly of anthropogenic origin, related to chemicals causing degradation and regression of species in such vast ecosystem. The results obtained are quite conclusive regarding the loss of several species both vegetal and animal, destruction of vermetidae platform and seagrass beds, depletion of fish stocks, turtle migration, cetaceans stranding, invasion of alien species and their settlement to the detriment of local species, and the appearance of new species of toxic algal blooms.


Lebanese coastal habitats are suffering from anthropogenic pressure and from over- fishing and illegal activities, and being at the same time exposed to different sources of pollution. Although partially neglected in the last decades in Lebanon, capture fisheries and aquaculture are now considered as crucial components of a sustainable management of the coastal areas for their strict relation to social, economic and strategic interests. Interventions not carefully planned may easily lead to frictions between and within groups. Therefore the National Center for Marine Sciences-CNRSL is collaborating with key actors in the region, namely the FAO-EastMed Project and the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in order to maximize the effectiveness of its efforts.

Climate Change and Ocean acidification studies in time-series stations

The biogeochemistry of the Mediterranean Sea is changing due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and associated global climate change. These changes may affect sea level rise, sea-atmosphere fluxes, and seawater properties. In turn, they lead to biotic responses within the coastal ecosystems, including changes in physiology, phenology, and population connectivity, as well as species range shifts. This is why, we started to quantify the carbonate system parameters (total alkalinity, total dissolved inorganic carbon, pH, and partial pressure of CO2) since 2012 in multiple time-series stations offshore the Lebanese coast. These parameters, together with other hydrographic (T and S), chemical (nutrients) and biological (O2, Chl.a) parameters are used to calculate biogeochemical variables (i.e. different carbon species that play a crucial biochemical role in the pH buffering system, the saturation state of both calcite and aragonite, two of the more soluble forms of calcium carbonate used by marine calcifiers, the Revelle factor which is a measure of the resistance to atmospheric CO2 being absorbed by the sea surface layer, the air-sea fluxes used to check whether the Lebanese waters are playing the role of a sink or a source of CO2 to the atmosphere). Also, monthly monitoring is conducted to survey the environmental conditions in our time-series stations between 0 and 80 m depth. The studied parameters are: hydrographic (temperature of both the air and the water and salinity), chemical (pH, nitrate, nitrite, and phosphate ions, total alkalinity and total dissolved inorganic carbon) and biological (oxygen concentrations, Chlorophyll a, zooplankton and phytoplankton populations) parameters.


This work is crucial to assess any potential trend for the environmental parameters in the context of climate change and ocean acidification, and will help to better understand the effects of biogeochemical modifications on marine organisms.


Contact Us: [email protected]


Our researchers and their scientific interests :

*Milad FAKHRI : [email protected]
*Abed El Rahman HASSOUN


*Sharif JEMAA

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