We convened a science working group to assess the capacity of California's MPA network in providing ecosystem resilience to climate-driven impacts

Final Report Now Available!

“Climate Resilience and California’s Marine Protected Area Network: A Report by an Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team Working Group and Ocean Science Trust (June 2021)”

Full report
OPC Foreword

In this report, the working group provides an overview of climate change impacts and scenarios for the California Current, catalogs potential mechanisms and evidence by which MPAs could provide resilience to climate change (and weighs the evidence for and against each), suggests research that could guide our detection and understanding of climate resilience in California’s MPAs, and recommends a set of actions to support a climate-resilient MPA network.


In recent years, the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems have become clearer and there is growing scientific interest in understanding the role that marine protected areas (MPAs) may play in building ecosystem resilience and providing societal benefits in the face of climate change. Assessing California’s MPA network through the lens of climate impacts and adaptation may illuminate additional benefits beyond those considered at the time of designation of the MPA network.

Supporting National and International Climate Discussions

In our role as Ocean Protection Council Science Advisor, we launched a two-step effort. First, we’re taking a science communication lens to produce a leave-behind that California can have at the table in national and international settings (e.g., COP 25). This is a timely moment to have California serve as a model for other geographies and jurisdictions but also to open to science learning occurring in the global research community. This product will be released in October.

Leading an Expert MPA Working Group

Second, we are designing and leading a process to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scientists together to assess what we know about the role of MPAs in providing climate resilience. What could we know if we analyzed existing monitoring and research data in new ways? And what could we invest in to efficiently grow our scientific understanding on this topic?

This expert group will be convened through the middle of next year as a working group of the OPC Science Advisory Team. OPC SAT Working Groups are interdisciplinary teams of scientists drawn from across the US to synthesize scientific understanding, develop new approaches and provide scientific recommendations and advice to OPC on priority topics. Ocean Science Trust serves as the Secretariat of the OPC-SAT providing essential governance direction and oversight as well as designing and executing effective and efficient working group processes. Timeline: August 2019 – May 2020

Working Group Members

Gretchen Hofmann, University of California, Santa Barbara (co-chair)
Elliott Hazen, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center (co-chair)
Jenn Caselle, University of California, Santa Barbara (Long Term Monitoring PI Liaison)
Rich Ambrose, University of California, Los Angeles
Debbie Aseltine-Neilson, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Francis Chan, Oregon State University
Arielle Levine, San Diego State University
Fiorenza Michelli, Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University
Jennifer Sunday, McGill University, Canada
Will White, Oregon State University

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