An international panel of researchers released its 2012 conservation watch list Monday, a list that includes entries from the bottom of the ocean to both poles and to the smallest of molecules.

A group of 22 researchers from 20 institutions worldwide devised the list of must-watch issues expected in 2012. The journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution will publish the review in a forthcoming issue.

This review has highlighted a number of issues that are likely to be of great importance throughout the 21st century, Michael Depledge, co-author of the study and a leading specialist at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health said in a statement. From the warming of the deep sea to placing hydro-electric turbines in rivers, it is clear that our potential to damage the natural environment will continue to be a crucial area in which we should conduct research. By identifying these issues at an early stage we hope to gain an understanding that can drive changes in policy and behaviour, ultimately helping to preserve biodiversity and increase the adoption of sustainable ways of living.

The list of the top 15 environmental concerns to watch in 2012 includes:

 Warming of the deep sea

Mining in the deep ocean

Methane venting from beneath the ocean floor

Climate-driven colonisations in Antarctic waters

Increases in pharmaceutical discharges as human populations age

Sterile farming to increase food safety

Transferring nitrogen-fixing ability to cereals

Increased cultivation of perennial cereals

Rapid and low-cost genomic sequencing

Electrochemical sea water desalination

Rapid development and extensive application of graphene

Nuclear batteries

Effect of increased cement demand on karst forest and cave ecosystems

In-stream hydrokinetic turbines

Burning of Arctic tundra

Source: EurekAlert press release