In 2016, the members of YO! wrote five scientific notes of the Ocean & Climate Platform. You can find them below.
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Ocean Circulation and Climate: an Overview – Bertrand Delorme and Yassir Eddebbar
Ocean circulation plays a central role in regulating climate and supporting marine life by transporting heat, carbon, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the world’s ocean. As human-emitted greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) plays an increasingly important role in sequestering anthropogenic heat and carbon into the deep ocean, thus modulating the course of climate change. Anthropogenic warming, in turn, can influence global ocean circulation through enhancing ocean stratification by warming and freshening the high latitude upper oceans, rendering it an integral part in understanding and predicting climate over the 21st century. The interactions between the MOC and climate are poorly understood and underscore the need for enhanced observations, improved process understanding, and proper model representation of ocean circulation on several spatial and temporal scales.
Marine Ecosystem Services in Europe – Clara Grillet, Claire Bertin, Jennifer T. Le and Adrien Comte
The concept of ecosystem services (ES) refers to the multiple benefits humans gain from maintaining ecosystem health and functions. This notion has theoretical and practical implications because it frames scientific findings into economic terms to raise awareness of the value of functional ecosystems. It follows that environmental management that incorporates the ecosystem service approach is economically efficient and sustainable. The ES approach is particularly useful for coastal and marine ecosystems because they traditionally lack spatial planning and protective regulation. Moreover, the concept of ecosystem services emphasizes the ocean’s function as a climate regulator, and its crucial role for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Regional implementation of integrated management already exists in the European Union. The next step now is to apply the ES approach to other, threatened regions such as the Mediterranean in order to ensure ecosystem resilience and service provision.
Which International Law for Ocean and Climate? – Bleuenn Guilloux and Romain Schumm
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) shape the legal backbone of sea and climate law on the international level. Framework conventions mark the beginning of specific legal systems that are destined to evolve. The UNCLOS takes into account only in an incidental manner certain aspects affecting climate in relation to the ocean. Climate change creates new challenges for the law of the sea, which then must adapt to tackle its impacts and showcase the ocean’s « regulating » role. Regulation of GHG emissions in maritime transport, ice-melt in the Arctic, or even sea-level rise have become the object of international discussions and call for further legal development. To affirm that the ocean has been completely left out of international climate negotiations would be at the very least imprecise. The ocean was mentioned at several occasions during debates and in international texts as one of the aspects of combating climate change. That being said, these references are incomplete and the relative legal provisions suffer from a limited legal scope. The effects of scientific and political mobilization concerning the links between ocean and climate set conditions for a consolidation of the integration of the ocean in climate law. The inclusion of the term « ocean » in the Paris Agreement, the IPCC special report on “Climate change and the oceans and the cryosphere”, or the existence of an ocean session at COP22 – where the implementation of the treaty will be discussed – all foretell a strengthening of the ocean in the climate regime.
The ocean in national contributions of Mediterranean States – Louise Ras
COP21 marked the enshrinement of national contributions in international climate negotiations. The ocean, presented at COP21 as “the forgotten element” of international climate negotiations, has been put back on the negotiation table. As for all subjects, the ocean had to be fervently defended to access the international political agenda. What are intended nationally determined contributions and how do States prepare them? Today, how is the ocean taken into account by Mediterranean States in their national contributions?
Ecosystem services of the deep ocean – Jennifer T. Le and Kirk N. Sato
The concept of ecosystem services (ES) includes the ecological functions and the economic value of ecosystems which contribute to human well-being. This approach is already applied for coastal waters management, but it is rarely applied to the deep sea although it represents 97% of the ocean’s volume. The deep-sea ES include provisioning services such as fish catch or industrial agents, regulation services such as carbon storage, and cultural services such as inspiration for the arts. However, the deep sea is facing increasing pressures in the form of direct and indirect human activities. This synergy of impacts is widely unknown and the lack of regulation regarding certain parts of the ocean requires great caution.