Nereus Program Principal Investigator Larry B. Crowder (Stanford University) is part of a research team that recently published “Integrating climate change into ocean planning” in the journal Nature Sustainability. For their review, the authors analyzed >150 scientific references for marine spatial planning (MSP) and climate change, focusing on the nexus between climate change, MSP, and ocean sustainability. From their analysis, three main topics emerged: “(1) MSP as a solution to mitigate climate impacts and support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 13 (Climate Action) and SDG14 (Life Below Water); (2) integration of climate change in MSP (3) potential pathways for MSP adaptation to a changing climate.” They describe how climate change impacts the ocean through warming, acidification, deoxygenation, and sea level rise, which in turn impacts ecosystem services and the ways humans use the ocean and its resources (e.g., fisheries, aquaculture, and ecotourism). Additionally, as climate change continues, currently exploited regions face increased crowding, and new regions that were previously inaccessible (such as the Arctic) will attract more humans, thereby presenting even greater spatial management challenges. Therefore, the authors argue that “as MSP operates in a changing ocean, properly addressing and integrating climate effects is vital to keep plans viable, relevant and useful in the long term” and conclude by writing that “MSP has a real chance to contribute to sustainable ocean use, but to do so effectively it must be prepared for the challenges ahead-a changing ocean being a vital one.” You can read the abstract and access the article below.


The acceleration of global warming and increased vulnerability of marine social-ecological systems affect the benefits provided by the ocean. Spatial planning of marine areas is vital to balance multiple human demands and ensure a healthy ocean, while supporting global ocean goals. To thrive in a changing ocean though, marine spatial planning (MSP) must effectively integrate climate change. By reviewing existing literature on MSP and climate change, we explore the links between them and with ocean sustainability, highlight management challenges, and identify potential pathways to guide action towards the effective integration of climate impacts in MSP.

The above summary was adapted from the reference below

Frazão Santos, C., Agardy, T., Andrade, F., Calado, H., Crowder, L.B., Ehler, C.N., García-Morales, S., Gissi, E., Halpern, B.S., Orbach, M.K., Pörtner, H., & Rosa, R. (2020). Integrating climate change in ocean planning. Nat Sustain. link.

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