A study conducted by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has found that over half of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) contain habitats vital for the nation’s future climate resilience. Forty-three percent of MPAs contain habitats such as sand banks, seaweed and other plant beds that play a role in protecting the coastline from severe weather events. Climate change is predicted to lead to an increase in the frequency of storm surges together with rising sea levels. The study also found that 29% of MPAs protect habitats such as coastal saltmarshes, seagrasses, salt water reedbeds and muddy habitats, which support the absorption and storage of carbon dioxide.
The study provides new tools for scientists to measure the impacts of climate change, such as increases in sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, ocean heatwaves and rising sea levels on marine sensitive habitats. These tools may be used to help in inform future protection measures.
Source: JNCC, 8 June 2020