Climate Change Impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries

John Largier, Brian Cheng, and Kelley Higgason
Posted on: 6/29/2010 - Updated on: 3/06/2020

Posted by

Jessi Kershner



On global and regional scales, the ocean is changing due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and associated global climate change. Regional physical changes include sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding, and changes in precipitation and land runoff, ocean atmosphere circulation, and ocean water properties. These changes in turn lead to biotic responses within ocean ecosystems, including changes in physiology, phenology, and population connectivity, as well as species range shifts. Regional habitats and ecosystems are thus affected by a combination of physical processes and biological responses. While climate change will also significantly impact human populations along the coast, this is discussed only briefly.

Climate Change Impacts, developed by a joint working group of the Gulf of the Farallones (GFNMS) and Cordell Bank (CBNMS) National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Councils, identifies and synthesizes potential climate change impacts to habitats and biological communities along the north-central California coast. This report does not assess current conditions, or predict future changes. It presents scientific observations and expectations to identify potential issues related to changing climate – with an emphasis on the most likely ecological impacts and the impacts that would be most severe if they occur. Climate Change Impacts provides a foundation of information and scientific insight for each sanctuary to develop strategies for addressing climate change. These strategies will outline priority management actions for the next 10 years to address the impacts of climate change specific to the site, its communities, and the region.


Largier, J., Cheng, B., & Higgason, K. (2010). Climate change impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries (Report of a Joint Working Group of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Advisory Councils). Retrieved from CAKE:

Affiliated Organizations

Designated in 1981, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) spans 1,279-square-miles (966 square nautical miles) just north and west of San Francisco Bay, and protects open ocean, nearshore tidal flats, rocky intertidal areas, estuarine wetlands, subtidal reefs, and coastal beaches within its boundaries.

The Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1989 to protect and preserve the extraordinary marine ecosystem surrounding the Cordell Bank. Surrounded by soft sediments of the continental shelf seafloor, Cordell Bank emerges with a rocky habitat, providing home to colorful and abundant invertebrates, algae, and fishes. The productive waters attract migratory seabirds and marine mammals from all around the Pacific Ocean to feed in this dynamic food web.

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