New Report Addresses Monitoring Climate Change in California’s Marine Protected Areas

EcoAdapt, in partnership with the California Ocean Science Trust’s MPA Monitoring Enterprise, has developed the report Monitoring Climate Effects in Temperate Marine Ecosystems to supplement monitoring efforts in California’s statewide network of marine protected areas with climate change monitoring in order to track effects on habitats and species. Focusing on the state’s South Coast (from Point Conception to the California/Mexico border, including the Channel Islands) and North Central Coast (from Alder Creek, near Point Arena, to Pigeon Point, including the Farallon Islands) regions, this innovative approach to monitoring contains recommendations for efficiently incorporating climate change monitoring following a three-tiered design pioneered by the MPA Monitoring Enterprise in order to provide scalable implementation options for managers that can track climate change impacts and provide ‘alerting signals’ for California’s marine ecosystems.

Climate change will affect marine ecosystems from pole to pole. While indicators and recommendations for climate change monitoring have been developed for tropical systems, temperate marine ecosystems have received little attention or guidance in regards to developing approaches to monitor climate change impacts. The report focuses on those climate changes and impacts most likely to (1) affect temperate marine ecosystems and (2) be effectively informed through MPA monitoring; these include – sea level rise, increased air and sea surface temperatures, increased intensity and frequency of storms, decreasing pH, and altered circulation patterns. The report uses the three-tiered design applied in the South Coast and North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plans:
  •  Tier 1. Existing climate change indicators within the North Central Coast and South Coast MPA monitoring plans that provide information on climate change
  • Tier 2. Candidate climate change metrics that may be added to the MPA monitoring plans
  • Tier 3. Candidate new framework elements for climate change monitoring
This information will not only aid in the interpretation of monitoring results, but also can be designed to inform the management dialogue around potential climate change effects on marine ecosystems and adaptation or mitigation measures. We hope that this can lead to climate-savvy management for better future outcomes.