Climate change and the associated impacts are already being felt in coastal areas. A changing climate will have significant impacts on estuaries and coasts by exacerbating existing stressors such as sea level/lake level change, inundation and flooding from storms, drought, and changes to freshwater inflows. Additional impacts such as ocean acidification and species shifts also will affect estuaries. Coastal communities, estuaries, and watersheds are on the front line:
- Climate change impacts are expected to vary regionally and increasingly affect coastal communities and economies.
Reserves are well positioned to monitor and study the impacts of climate change on estuaries and to work with resource managers and communities to plan and adapt to these changes. Reserves design and implement mitigation and adaptation practices in the construction of facilities and through stewardship projects. Reserve training and education programs help communities understand and adapt to anticipated local and regional climate change impacts.
In 2008, the Reserve System engaged its staff in education, research, stewardship, and training to develop a climate change strategy and plan for action. A summary of the Reserve System’s 2008 Climate Strategy can be accessed here.
More recently, both NOAA and the Reserve System have identified climate change and its impacts as strategic priorities. Currently, the Reserve System is developing an initiative with key actions to address climate change adaptation, mitigation, and promotes resilience of estuary ecosystems. As one of three 2011-2016 priority areas for the Reserve System, reserves are supporting both the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation goal as well as the Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies goal in NOAA’s Next Generation Strategic Plan.
-- United States Global Climate Research Program (USGCRP). 2009. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.