Nav: Home

Marine reserves help mitigate against climate change, say scientists

June 05, 2017

Highly protected marine reserves can help mitigate against the impacts of climate change, a study by a team of international scientists has concluded.

Scientists say reserves can help marine ecosystems and people adapt to five key impacts of climate change: ocean acidification; sea-level rise; increased intensity of storms; shifts in species distribution, and decreased productivity and oxygen availability.

Reserves also can promote uptake and long-term storage of carbon from greenhouse gas emissions, especially in coastal wetlands, which helps reduce the rate of climate change, the study revealed.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, evaluated existing peer reviewed studies on the impact of marine reserves around the world.

Currently, only 3.5 per cent of the ocean has been set aside for protection with just 1.6 per cent fully protected from exploitation.

International groups are working to raise the total to 10 per cent by 2020, while delegates to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's 2016 World Conservation Congress agreed that at least 30 per cent should be protected by 2030.

Scientists say Marine Reserves and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs):
  • Protect coasts from sea-level rise, storms and other extreme weather events

  • Help offset climate-change induced declines in ocean and fisheries productivity

  • Provide refuges for species as they adjust their ranges to changing conditions

  • Can help combat acidification

Lead author, Professor Callum Roberts from the University of York's Environment Department, said: "Many studies show that well-managed marine reserves can protect wildlife and support productive fisheries, but we wanted to explore this body of research through the lens of climate change to see whether these benefits could help ameliorate or slow its impacts.

"It was soon quite clear that they can offer the ocean ecosystem and people critical resilience benefits to rapid climate change."

Previously published research revealed that marine reserves can promote rapid recovery of exploited species and degraded habitats while safeguarding intact ecosystems.

These benefits are greater in large, long-established, well-managed reserves that have full protection from activities such as fishing, oil and mineral extraction. Relative isolation from damaging human activities adds further conservation benefits.

The ability of protected areas to offer strong climate change resilience benefits is likely to be contingent on these characteristics.

The research shows that protecting more of the ocean will also improve the outlook for environmental recovery after greenhouse gas emissions have been brought under control. This strengthens the case that the United Nations ocean protection target be raised from 10 per cent to 30 per cent coverage of MPAs, which will require many more large-scale MPAs and protected areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Beth O'Leary, a co-author and Research Fellow at the University of York, added: "We were keenly aware that marine reserves can increase species' abundance and help alleviate food scarcity, but our evaluation showed reserves are a viable low-tech, cost-effective adaptation strategy that would yield multiple co-benefits from local to global scales, improving the outlook for the environment and people into the future."

Matt Rand, Director of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project, which supported part of the research, added: "This study should be proof positive to decision makers that creating effectively managed marine reserves can deliver a multitude of benefits. Marine reserves are climate reserves."
-end-


University of York

Related Climate Change Articles:

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
Historical climate important for soil responses to future climate change
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Amsterdam, examined how 18 years of drought affect the billions of vital bacteria that are hidden in the soil beneath our feet.
Can forests save us from climate change?
Additional climate benefits through sustainable forest management will be modest and local rather than global.
From crystals to climate: 'Gold standard' timeline links flood basalts to climate change
Princeton geologists used tiny zircon crystals found in volcanic ash to rewrite the timeline for the eruptions of the Columbia River flood basalts, a series of massive lava flows that coincided with an ancient global warming period 16 million years ago.
Think pink for a better view of climate change
A new study says pink noise may be the key to separating out natural climate variability from climate change that is influenced by human activity.
Climate taxes on agriculture could lead to more food insecurity than climate change itself
New IIASA-led research has found that a single climate mitigation scheme applied to all sectors, such as a global carbon tax, could have a serious impact on agriculture and result in far more widespread hunger and food insecurity than the direct impacts of climate change.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.