A Climate-resilient Path for Ireland’s Marine Protected Areas Network

Extreme weather events, and long-term changes in our coasts and our seas are a present reminder of the breakdown of the global climate system. As efforts to limit the pace of climate change take shape, and climate action unfolds, it is likely that excess greenhouse gas emissions presently in our atmosphere may continue to impact our marine ecosystems, as part of our natural world, for decades and centuries to come. The need to introduce immediate action to preserve areas of our ecosystems that may, in the meantime, be less sensitive to those changes–climate change refugia—is thus widely recognised. Such sites may serve as the seed banks where our marine biodiversity may be preserved in the interim, until such a time when the global pressure of climate change has been reduced. To this end, modelling projections that estimate the degree of climate change experienced by marine species and habitats under different possible futures are thus invaluable tools with which to inform the design of conservation mechanisms to protect such “climate-resilient” sites, including well-managed marine protected area networks.