Washington: A new study used advanced climate models to predict that sea floor dwelling marine life would decline by 38 per cent in the North Atlantic and over five per cent globally over the next century.
These changes will be driven by a reduction in the plants and animals that live at the surface of the oceans that feed deep-sea communities. As a result, ecosystem services like fishing will be threatened.
In the study, led by the National Oceanography Centre, the team used the latest suite of climate models to predict changes in food supply throughout the world oceans.
They then applied a relationship between food supply and biomass calculated from a huge global database of marine life.
These changes in sea floor communities are expected despite living on average four kilometres under the surface of the ocean. This is because their food source, the remains of surface ocean marine life that sink to the sea floor, will dwindle because of a decline in nutrient availability.
Nutrient supplies will suffer because of climate impacts such as a slowing of the global ocean circulation, as well as increased separation between water masses - known as `stratification` - as a result of warmer and rainier weather.
The study has been published in the journal Global Change Biology.