A statement by the deep-sea research community for consideration by UNFCCC
DEEP OCEAN MITIGATION AND RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE
The deep sea is an integral part of the earth system and plays a significant role in minimizing the impact of human released CO2 on the earth’s climate. The waters and seafloor below 200m are one of the largest sinks of excess carbon dioxide and heat and have already absorbed more than a quarter of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2. Ocean acidification, warming and deoxygenation resulting from human CO2 release has already been observed in deep waters and these impacts are projected to intensify in coming decades.
The deep sea, which accounts for 99% of the habitable volume of the planet, is recognized to be highly heterogeneous in space and time, comprised of many different ecosystems that provide key provisioning, supporting, regulating, and cultural services to the global population in addition to its role in the global carbon cycle and heat regulation. These services occur in waters both within and beyond national jurisdictions. For example, the regeneration of nutrients in the deep sea provides shallow-water ecosystems the ability to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and sustain productive, harvestable fish stocks. Deep-sea habitats are and will continue to be impacted by climate change due to the cumulative effect of different stressors on their biota, including expanding oxygen minimum zones, shoaling of aragonite saturation horizons, acidification and warming.
These climate-change impacts combine with direct human activities to create vulnerable deep-sea areas. It is crucial to incorporate climate change into holistic environmental planning in the deep ocean and to develop a global ‘deep’ observing network targeting ecosystems and regions at the nexus of climate change and deep-sea exploitation.
We the undersigned, encourage the UNFCCC to integrate the role of the deep ocean in its endeavors to mitigate climate change. There is a crucial and urgent need for a dedicated momentum supporting:
- Greater attention to the role of the deep ocean in mitigation and impact in ocean modeling and reporting.
- Acknowledgement of the vulnerability and importance of the ocean and especially the deep ocean in negotiation text.
- Direction of adaptation funding to deep-ocean observations, long-term integrated ecosystem and physiology studies critical to an accurate assessment of climate change scenarios and their impacts on deep-sea services.
- Promotion of activities that conserve the key functions and services of the deep ocean, including the establishment of Marine Protected Areas encompassing deep-water habitats.