Published 02.04.2020 - Updated 02.04.2020

Study the Twilight Zone before it is too late

The oceans’ twilight zone is the area just below 200m from the surface ocean down to 1000m. It plays a major role in removing and storing CO2 from the atmosphere, and is home to the largest and least exploited ocean fish stocks. It is also the zone through which the massive migration of fish and zooplankton move towards the surface to feed each night, before retreating back down at dawn. Yet  despite its importance, the zone is physically, biogeochemically and ecologically poorly understood. It is a difficult region to study for a variety of substantial reasons, leaving many critics to suggest that coastal and near-shelf waters are more deserving of study, because of the significant environmental impacts there, and their importance to societies. Unfortunately, widespread environmental damage to these inshore regions can often not be avoided, so research efforts and local policies must aim to mitigate the worst effects. By contrast, the twilight zone is almost pristine, and as much of it lies beyond national jurisdiction, it is of common interest and responsibility, and global agreement is necessary to manage it.

This paper outlines the steps needed to ensure that enough is known about this complex global ecosystem to inform decisions about the impacts of climate change and potential future exploitation. We call on the international marine research community to focus its attention on the twilight zone during the upcoming United Nations Decade of the Ocean, and to seize the opportunity to establish a global policy that will protect this vast ecosystem for present and future generations.

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Published 25.03.2020 - Updated 25.03.2020

Marine biodiversity offsets: Pragmatic approaches toward better conservation outcomes

Biodiversity offsets, as the last stage of the mitigation hierarchy, provide an opportunity to promote a more sustainable basis for development by addressing residual impacts and achieving “no net loss” for biodiversity. Despite debate around their effectiveness, biodiversity offsets are seeing increasing application on land but remain a rarely used tool in the marine environment. In this paper, we assess how offsets can be applied in the marine environment to achieve better biodiversity outcomes, and identify implications for conservation policy and practice.

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Published 04.02.2020 - Updated 04.02.2020

Applying an Organizational Psychology Model for Developing Shared Goals in Interdisciplinary Research Teams

Developing shared goals within interdisciplinary marine research teams can enhance success, both in terms of knowledge production processes, and efforts to link that knowledge to decision-making processes. However, there is very little guidance available for how best to develop shared goals that reflect the values and perspectives of all team members. In a new Perspective Paper just published in One Earth, Chris Cvitanovic and colleagues explore the utility of an organisational psychology model – the ASPIRe model – for developing shared goals within interdisciplinary marine research teams. They do so by applying the model to the Centre for Marine Socioecology in Tasmania, Australia – a group that brings together marine experts from a number of organisations and with varied disciplinary expertise including physics, law, economics, biology, sociology and governance. The full paper is Open Access and can be found here

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Published 05.02.2020 - Updated 05.02.2020

The IMBeR ClimEco7 Summer School is now open for applications

We are very pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 7th IMBeR 'Climate and Ecosystems' Summer School that will be held at UBC in Vancouver, Canada from 17-21 August 2020.

Numbers are limited to between 60-70 ClimEco7 participants to ensure good discussions and interactions between participants and the amazing lecturers. So when you apply, tell us why you should be selected to attend. We look forward to receiving applications from a wide range of ocean science disciplines.

The registration fee is still to be confirmed. No payment is necessary at this stage. Successful applicants will be informed of the deadline for payments later.


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Published 22.01.2020 - Updated 22.01.2020

A new IMBeR International Project Office at the East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai, China

Last week, Carol Robinson, the Chair of the IMBeR Scientific Steering Committee, joined the IMBeR project office staff - John Claydon and Lisa Maddison from the International Project Office in Norway, and Fang Zuo and Kai Qin from the Regional Project Office in China - at a ceremony to mark the inauguration of the new International Project Office (IPO) in Shanghai, China.

A Memorandum of Understanding to support the IMBeR IPO-China for the next five years was signed by Carol Robinson and the ECNU President Prof. Qian Xuhong. The office is also supported by a consortium of supporting marine institutions and projects.

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Published 16.12.2019 - Updated 16.12.2019

Tuna carbon isotopes suggest global shift in phytoplankton communities

Research by the CLIOTOP Marine Predator Isotopes Task Team was recently published in Global Change Biology. The study compiled more than 5000 stable isotope values from 2000 to 2015 of three tuna species sampled globally. Their analyses, unprecedented in scope and spatial range, found a decline in tuna δ13C values of up to 2.5‰ which was up to five-fold larger than expected from the Suess effect alone, i.e. fossil fuel-derived and isotopically-light carbon incorporated into marine food webs. The team used time-series analysis and Bayesian modelling to relate the observed temporal trend to various processes known to influence ocean carbon cycling in the global oceans. The study concluded that tuna isotope signatures are not only indicating changes in fossil-fuel derived carbon emissions but also a substantial shift in phytoplankton communities (from a likely dominance of larger diatoms to smaller coccolithophorids, flagellates or cyanobacteria).

More than 90% of the heat associated with global warming, and more than 30% of the fossil-fuel carbon emissions have been absorbed by the oceans. While such processes are predicted to impact marine biota through changes in ocean stratification and ocean acidification, current estimates of trends are based on localized ocean time series or satellite observations with significant uncertainties.

The findings from this CLIOTOP study could have broad ramifications for marine food webs. Such shifts in phytoplankton could decrease the availability of energy and some essential macro and micro nutrients to fish and human consumers. The study represents a heretofore unrecognized application of stable isotope analyses to reveal decadal changes in the ocean carbon cycle. Such empirical data will be invaluable in calibrating and validating global earth system models used by the IPCC to project the effects of climate change on oceanic productivity.

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Published 05.12.2019 - Updated 05.12.2019

Global carbon budget 2019

The 2019 “global carbon budget” was published on 4 December. It provides an assessment of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and their distribution in the atmosphere, ocean, and land. This is important to better understand the global carbon cycle, support the development of climate policies, and project future climate change. It shows that emissions are still increasing, but have slowed due to the global decrease in coal burning. Continued and increased global action is needed to reverse the trends.

Global carbon budget 2019 by Pierre Friedlingstein et al. is licensed under CC BY 4.0

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