Perfect storm

Date: June 24, 2015

Source: Nature Climate Change

It is often assumed that deep-sea ecosystems are shielded from the effects of climate change at the surface. On the contrary, such ecosystems are likely to be particularly sensitive to changing oceanic conditions. For one thing, many are energetically dependent on organically rich particles, which are produced in surface waters before sinking to the sea floor as ‘marine snow’.

Furthermore, because many deep ecosystems have experienced relatively constant conditions for millennia, even small perturbations of the physical and chemical environment could destabilize them. Many of the species supported by these ecosystems have long life spans and generation times, meaning that their capacity to adapt quickly enough to keep pace with environmental change may be limited. So what, if anything, can be done to protect them?


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