Coastal storms are known to cause serious damage along the shoreline, but they also cause significant disruption of the deep-sea ecosystem as well, according to a study of extreme coastal storms in the Western Mediterranean published in the Jan. 25 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.
The researchers, led by Anna Sanchez-Vidal of the University of Barcelona in Spain, identified a storm in Dec. 2008 as the most extreme storm in the area over the last 25 years, and found that it resulted in major redistribution of marine organic carbon associated to clay particles from shallow to deep water. This injection of carbon helps support life in the deeper water and boosts carbon sequestration, the authors write.
Despite the importance of such events for deep-sea ecosystems, however, the severe damage to coastal environments must also be taken into account, and both of these factors must be considered when considering how human-induced climate change might alter the overall ocean ecosystem.
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Sanchez-Vidal A, Canals M, Calafat AM, Lastras G, Pedrosa-Pa`mies R, et al. (2012) Impacts on the Deep-Sea Ecosystem by a Severe Coastal Storm. PLoS ONE 7(1): e30395. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030395