How human communities could ‘feel’ changing ocean biogeochemistry

Human-driven changes to ocean biogeochemistry affect multiple marine processes and species, thus altering the diverse array of ecosystem services that benefit human societies.

Changes in marine biogeochemistry such as pollution, ocean acidification, and deoxygenation often simultaneously affect marine environments and ecosystem services, often interacting synergistically to enhance one another. These biogeochemical shifts also occur in parallel with other anthropogenically driven changes, like rising temperature and altered circulation or reduced biodiversity and ecological shifts. Ecosystem services that experience multiple stressors could also therefore be more strongly harmed. Initial studies have estimated biogeochemistry-associated losses in some ecosystem services to which monetary values can be assigned, but the methods used fall short for measuring change in many other ecosystem services. Ecosystem assessments will provide a much broader accounting of how changing marine ecosystem services will affect human well-being by examining the natural and social science implications of marine biogeochemical change.

Cooley S., in press. How human communities could ‘feel’ changing ocean biogeochemistry. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. doi: 10.1016/j.cosust.2012.04.002. Article (subscription required).

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