CNR-INSTITUTE OF MARINE SCIENCES-ISMAR (IT)
A healthy ocean regulates Earth’s climate and mitigates climate changes by absorbing heat and human-induced CO2 emissions. It serves also as a significant service provider supporting marine ecosystems’ integrity and resilience, and providing resources. Maintaining a healthy ocean is thus key for a sustainable life on Earth. With the rising of atmospheric CO2 concentration, ocean’s health is at risk. The ocean is warming, acidifying, and losing its oxygen content (i.e., ocean deoxygenation). Intensified hydrological cycle and altered ocean-atmosphere heat exchange are expected to increase magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events.
Our knowledge about the co-occurrence of such extreme multistressor events, when a system is far outside the norm, is relatively limited. The impact of combined extreme events is expected to be very high given the reduced time for biological adaptation, potentially leading to dramatic losses of biodiversity, increased desertification and shifts in species composition and propagating up to higher trophic levels to fish stocks with severe consequences on blue economy sectors (fishing, aquaculture). However, an integrated view of how these combined extreme events in the ocean unfold in time and space and a mechanistic understanding of the relevant processes is missing.
The MultIple THreats on Ocean health (MiTHo) project aims at developing innovative EO-based multistressor cumulative hazard indexes, by exploiting the latest EO-based products achieved within the ESA Ocean Science cluster projects – CAREHeat, BOOMs, BiCOME, OceanSODA, MAXSS, Sargassum, SOON, EO4SiBS, PHYSIOGLOB – combining multi-mission independent EO-based datasets, for the detection of extreme events in warming, ocean pH, winds and river inputs, and up to in-situ (BGCArgo) and modelled O2 data for hypoxia an ocean deoxygenation detection.
This project will assess the cumulative impact of multiple climate and anthropogenic stressors on key ecosystem services -biodiversity, phytoplankton biomass, macroalgae biomass, zooplankton biomass, fish biomass, food provisioning and costal protection, spanning at different temporal scales, and advance our ability to understand, monitor and predict oceans’ health. Blending EO remote sensing data with in-situ measurements and numerical model outputs, through ML techniques MiTHo will reconstruct dissolved O2 vertical profiles and provide novel EO-based avenues to monitor deoxygenation and from space.