“For a habitat that covers half the earth, the impacts of this will be enormous”
Deep-water Hydroid at 1,050 meters (3,450 feet) deep. Photo: Daniel Jones, SERPENT Project, National Oceanography Centre
New research published in the open-access journal Elementa today shows that food supply to some areas of the earth’s deep oceans will decline by up to half by 2100.
Andrew Sweetman of the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Lisa Levin, CMBC biological oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and colleagues from 20 of the world’s leading oceanographic research centers used earth system models and projected climate change scenarios to quantify impending changes to deep oceans in the review released Feb. 23.
“The rate of change underway in our oceans is faster than at any point we know of in geological history,” said Sweetman. “Deep seafloor ecosystems provide services that are vitally important to the entire ocean and biosphere; we should all be concerned at what’s happening on our ocean floors. The organic matter cycling that occurs in the deep sea helps to buffer the ocean against pH changes and the effects of ocean acidification.”
The changes that are projected in the deep ocean, which accounts for more than 95 percent of the volume of the Earth’s oceans, are likely to significantly alter the health and sustainable functioning of the planet over the next couple of centuries.
“Because many deep-sea environments are naturally very stable in terms of environmental conditions, even slight changes in temperature, oxygen, food supply, and pH are likely to significantly lower the resilience of deep-sea communities to the impact of human activity,” said Levin. “These many challenges call for intensified observations of and spatial planning for the deep ocean, coordinated at an international level.”