Predicted future increases in air and water temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, sea level rise, and increases in tropical storm intensity will affect the plants and animals, and chemical and physical processes that shape our coastal habitats. Understanding how habitats may be vulnerable to changes in climate can lead to recommendations for current management actions that could increase the future resilience of these habitats.
The Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats is an evaluation process developed by Reserves that brings scientists and decision makers together to create a shared understanding of how changes in climate and management practices will make a habitat more or less vulnerable in the future. Local knowledge of current conditions frames facilitated discussions about how severely climate change will impact a habitat. The Reserve is currently using the CCVATCH and other tools and information to assess the vulnerability of local coastal habitats to help direct future program planning. To learn more about the CCVATCH, visit ccvatch.com.
Monitoring Habitat Change
Marshes, forested wetlands, oyster reefs, beaches, tidal streams, and mud flats are vital estuarine habitats for fish, birds and other wildlife. These areas also protect against flooding, improve water quality, provide recreational opportunities, and support commercial fisheries and tourism. Land clearing for development and the filling of wetlands directly impact estuarine habitats. Indirect impacts, such as those caused by invasive species, climate change, and sea level rise are often more inconspicuous but can have equally significant adverse impacts. Habitat change is being monitored through mapping and field surveys. Information about how and why habitats are changing will support planning for future management actions.
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