The Guardian reports: The deep ocean and the creatures that live there are facing a desperate future due to food shortages and changing temperatures, according to research exploring the impact of climate change and human activity on the world’s seas.
The deep ocean plays a critical role in sustaining our fishing and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as being home to a huge array of creatures. But the new study reveals that food supplies at the seafloor in the deepest regions of the ocean could fall by up to 55% by 2100, starving the animals and microbes that exist there, while changes in temperature, pH and oxygen levels are also predicted to take their toll on fragile ecosystems.
The situation, the authors note, is exacerbated by drilling for oil and gas, dumping of pollutants, fishing and the prospect of deep-sea mining.
“We need to wake up and start really realising that [with] the deep ocean, even though we can’t see it … we are going to be having a huge effect on the largest environment on the planet,” said Andrew Sweetman, the co-author of the research from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. “It is pretty scary.”
Published in the journal Elementa by an international group of scientists from 20 research institutes, the study describes how the team harnessed a number of climate models to explore how oceans around the world are set to change over the 21st century.
“We wanted to look at how all of these combined stressors – warming, enhanced acidification, reduced food supply to the sea floor, deoxygenation – would work together to impact the ocean,” said Sweetman.
The results reveal that the future for the deep sea is bleak. [Continue reading…]