THE temperature and salinity of the Western Mediterranean has been rising since 1900 but the process has stepped up since the middle of the 1970s, a Spanish scientific team said yesterday.

The research, which has been published in the Journal of Marine Systems magazine, has included work by oceanographers from the Balearic Islands, Malaga and Gijon; by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography; and the Sea Science Institute of Barcelona.

As a result of this most recent of marine and meteorological studies, the Ministry of Science claims that the waters of the Mediterranean have been getting progressively hotter throughout the last century, and more noticeably so from the middle of the 1970s and during the 21st century. Temperatures being recorded in the deep waters of the Western Mediterranean are apparently related with the air temperature of the northern hemisphere and with heat absorbed by the Atlantic Ocean.

According to the scientists, the Western Mediterranean is therefore an excellent indicator of changes which are taking place in the Earth's climate on a global scale.