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Geoscientist Online

The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment: World Ocean Assessment 1

UN World Oceans Assessment 1This weighty tome includes an extraordinary range of information about almost every major aspect of our marine world. It has been written with contributions from over 600 scientists, and every chapter includes a comprehensive reference list. The depth of information is, necessarily, limited but it is a very useful reference for students and anyone who has an interest in the global trends affecting our marine environment.

The book is divided into four main sections: (1) ecosystem services; (2) food security and food safety; (3) human impacts on the marine environment; and (4) marine species diversity and habitats with a focus on those identified as threatened, declining or in need of special attention or protection.

It is written in a very readable style and there are some interesting sections for geologists to read. The chapter on calcium carbonate production should be of interest to students studying coastal geomorphology and the potential impacts of climate change on our beaches and islands.  The vulnerability of our global communications to geological phenomena are highlighted in the section on cables and pipelines. Who knew that in 2006 a 330-km-long turbidity slide triggered by an earthquake near China caused 19 breaks in seven cable systems? These cables carried a significant proportion of the internet connections for China, Japan and other regional states, meaning a major interruption to economic activities for around 6 weeks.

The chapters on species are not devoid of geological interest, one of the more intriguing is devoted to hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. Both geological settings constitute energy hotspots on the seafloor that sustain some of the most unusual ecosystems on Earth. The diversity of species associated with these geological phenomena is poorly documented, the habitats are characterised as chemosynthetic ecosystems with numerous endemic species living at the sites.

Some sections have little direct relevance for geologists, but are interesting nonetheless because they draw together information on subjects you may never see in your normal day-to-day work (such as fisheries, shipping and sources of hazardous substances affecting the marine environment amongst others).

I would love to keep my review copy, but have reluctantly passed it onto my son, after all he is a marine biologist.

Reviewed by James Montgomery

THE FIRST GLOBAL INTEGRATED MARINE ASSESSMENT: WORLD OCEAN ASSESSMENT 1, by United Nations Group of Experts of the Regular Process (Lorna Inniss and Alan Simcock (Joint Coordinators)). 2016. Cambridge University Press, 973pp. (hbk). ISBN 978-1-316-51001-8. LIST PRICE: £120.00 W: https://www.cambridge.org