Journal article Open Access

Climate change considerations are fundamental to management of deep-sea resource extraction

Levin LA; Wei C-L; Dunn DC; Amon DJ; Ashford OS; Cheung WWL; Colaco A; Dominguez-Carrió C; Escobar EG; Harden-Davies HR; Drazen JC; Ismail K; Jones DOB; Johnson DE; Le JT; Lejzerowicz F; Mitarai S; Morato T; Mulsow S; Snelgrove PVR; Sweetman AK; Yasuhara M

Climate change manifestation in the ocean, through warming, oxygen loss, increasing
acidification, and changing particulate organic carbon flux (one metric of altered
food supply), is projected to affect most deep-ocean ecosystems concomitantly with
increasing direct human disturbance. Climate drivers will alter deep-sea biodiversity
and associated ecosystem services, and may interact with disturbance from resource
extraction activities or even climate geoengineering. We suggest that to ensure the
effective management of increasing use of the deep ocean (e.g., for bottom fishing, oil and gas extraction, and deep-seabed mining), environmental management and developing
regulations must consider climate change. Strategic planning, impact assessment
and monitoring, spatial management, application of the precautionary approach,
and full-cost accounting of extraction activities should embrace climate consciousness.
Coupled climate and biological modeling approaches applied in the water and on
the seafloor can help accomplish this goal. For example, Earth-System Model projections
of climate-change parameters at the seafloor reveal heterogeneity in projected
climate hazard and time of emergence (beyond natural variability) in regions targeted
for deep-seabed mining. Models that combine climate-induced changes in ocean circulation
with particle tracking predict altered transport of early life stages (larvae)
under climate change. Habitat suitability models can help assess the consequences
of altered larval dispersal, predict climate refugia, and identify vulnerable regions
for multiple species under climate change. Engaging the deep observing community
can support the necessary data provisioning to mainstream climate into the development
of environmental management plans. To illustrate this approach, we focus
on deep-seabed mining and the International Seabed Authority, whose mandates include
regulation of all mineral-related activities in international waters and protecting
the marine environment from the harmful effects of mining. However, achieving
deep-ocean sustainability under the UN Sustainable Development Goals will require
integration of climate consideration across all policy sectors. 

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