Complex topographies in the ocean:Techniques, recent advances and future challenges

Kostas Kiriakoulakis (Liverpool JMU), Martin White (Galway), Louise Allcock (Galway) 

Complex topographic features (e.g. shelf edges, canyons, seamounts, ridges, banks, deeps) are prominent features of the world’s oceans with characteristics varying greatly across spatial and temporal scales. The dynamic nature of these systems, including intense and complex currents, variability in upwelling conditions, biogeochemical processes, substrate type and availability can influence habitat suitability, biodiversity, and biomass of benthic and pelagic organisms. In addition, these areas are often targeted for resource exploitation, whilst the associated habitats provide goods and services that are vital to our planet’s health. However man-made activities increasingly affect these systems in the way of pollution, acidification or unsustainable exploitation of (biotic and abiotic) resources. Improving our knowledge of natural processes related to complex topographies is needed for weighing risks against benefits of anthropogenic activities. Recent advances in ocean exploration, such as detailed seabed mapping, habitat imaging, in-situ observatories and modelling have provided detailed maps and datasets linking the geosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere. We invite presentations investigating the intricate relationships between ecology, geology, chemistry and physical oceanography in these environments. The overarching aim is to provide an overview of state-of-the-art research in support of science-based decisions related to the monitoring and management of complex topographies in the ocean.