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Climate change

Temperature over the pole ( NOAA Images).Numerous studies have reported changes in global climate (e.g. IPCC) with many significant effects recorded in organisms throughout the world. In previous research, the deep sea was thought to be buffered against the effects of surface-driven cycles and impacts. However, modern science has shown the deep-sea to be susceptible to surface-driven cycles. These observations include variation in physical processes such as currents and seasonal influxes of particulate matter, as well as variation in ecological processes such as reproduction, growth rate and oxygen consumption. It is likely that the increasing impact of climate change at the surface may eventually affect the deep ocean.

There are several potential impacts with implications for deep-sea habitats. Changes in surface productivity could alter existing patterns of organic matter deposition, potentially influencing species distribution, abundance and behaviour. Increasing fresh water input from terrestrial sources may disrupt thermohaline circulation, changing ocean circulation and temperatures. Even small changes in ocean temperatures could lead to decreases in species abundance and may even alter population structure.

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