Marine Protected Areas in a Changing Climate

person looking through binoculars
Glacier Bay. Credit: T. VandenBerg/NPS

Climate change is having a profound impact on ocean ecosystems. We are already seeing impacts such as increased ocean temperatures, sea level rise, altered weather patterns, changes in ocean currents, melting sea ice and the effects of ocean acidification. These impacts will be felt by ecosystems already affected by existing stressors on the marine environment such as overfishing, habitat loss and land-based sources of pollution. In light of these impacts, MPAs are being increasingly recognized as a key tool for maintaining and restoring ecosystem resilience in a changing climate.  MPAs can also provide long term protection for "blue carbon" - coastal habitats including salt marshes, seagrasses and mangroves that provide long term storage for atmospheric carbon.

The MPA Center is working with other climate and MPA programs to provide information, tools and capacity building to address climate change impacts in the ocean through an ecosystem-based, adaptive approach.

mpa building resilience to climate impacts infographic
This infographic (2018) summarizes how climate change is impacting the ocean and how marine protected areas can help address climate impacts. See infographic in Spanish.

Resources from the MPA Center

Resources from our Partners



  • Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool (Commission for Environmental Cooperation, 2017)


MPA Networks

Cultural Resources

Climate Change Adaptation Training

The MPA Center partners with other MPA and coastal management programs to provide training on climate change adaptation.

Climate Change Websites