Knowing the environmental impact of climate interventions on deep-sea ecosystems and biodiversity is the goal of an international team of specialists that includes Nélia Mestre, a researcher at the Center for Marine and Environmental Research (CIMA) at the University of Algarve.
The Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative's Climate Working Group is led by Lisa Levin, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California, San Diego (USA), and has two Portuguese women. In addition to Nélia Mestre, this team also includes researcher Ana Colaço, from the Institute of Marine Sciences – Okeanos, University of the Azores.
At a time when it is increasingly clear that we are facing a climate crisis, "Ocean-based climate interventions are increasingly claimed as promising solutions to mitigate climate change", according to the working group.
However, “little is known about the impacts of these technologies on ocean biogeochemistry and ecosystem biodiversity. This is particularly true for deep sea ecosystems, which cover more than 40% of the Earth and contain highly vulnerable species and ecosystems”.
Based on this reality, the international group raised several questions, which can be consulted in the Insights of the Policy Forum of the scientific journal Science “Deep-sea impacts of climate interventions”.
The first author of this work, Lisa Levin, sees «ocean-based climate intervention as an emerging area, which presents important challenges for deep-sea ecosystems and, therefore, requires a greater scientific research effort before committing to the action".
Also for Nélia Mestre, a researcher at UAlg, «the spatial scale of action of these climate interventions will have to be enormous to be effective and can induce a proportional scale of impacts on ecosystems, including those of the deep sea. (…) We are at a critical point where knowledge is fundamental to enable positive decisions».
The deep sea faces unprecedented threats from the impact of industrial fishing, pollution, global warming, deoxygenation, acidification and other issues related to climate change. For these researchers, “ocean-based climate interventions can increase pressures and threaten the functioning of these essential ecosystems for the entire planet”.