Climate change is having a profound effect on ocean and Great Lakes ecosystems. We are already seeing impacts such as increased ocean and lake temperatures, sea level rise, changes in lake levels, altered weather patterns, changes in ocean currents, ocean acidification, and ocean deoxygenation. Ecosystems are experiencing these new challenges alongside existing non-climate stressors on the marine environment, such as overfishing, habitat loss and land-based sources of pollution. In light of these cumulative impacts undermining marine ecosystems globally, marine protected areas (MPAs) are being increasingly recognized as a key tool for maintaining and restoring ecosystem resilience in a changing climate by reducing non-climate stressors. MPAs can also provide long term protection for habitats including salt marsh, seagrasses, mangroves, and kelp forests that act as "blue carbon" - ocean and coastal ecosystems and processes that draw down and store significant amounts of carbon.
The MPA Center is working with other climate and MPA programs to provide information, tools, and capacity building to address climate change and its impacts. To receive the latest announcements about climate change and MPAs, be sure to sign up to the MPA Connections Newsletter.
In 2021, the United States, United Kingdom, Chile, Costa Rica, and France announced a new global partnership to advance the role of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a nature-based solution in the fight against climate change. The announcement came ahead of the United Nations climate change (COP 26) and biodiversity (COP 15) conferences. The partnership participated in these international events and continues to be a presence in such international meetings. Visit the International Partnership on MPAs, Biodiversity and Climate Change website to learn more.