The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change on Coastal Areas and Marine Resources
This report, released by the Coastal Ocean Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of the U.S. National Assessment on global climate change, details the potential impacts of climate change on coastal and marine resources of the United States. Coordinator: Dr. Donald F. Boesch.
Coastal and marine ecosystems support diverse and important fisheries throughout the nation’s waters, hold vast storehouses of biological diversity, and provide unparalleled recreational opportunities. Some 53% of the total U.S. population live on the 17% of land in the coastal zone. Sea-level rise is projected to accelerate during the 21st century, with dramatic impacts in low-lying regions where subsidence and erosion problems already exist. Research is demonstrating that global changes may already be significantly impacting marine ecosystems, such as the impact of increasing nitrogen on coastal waters and the direct effect of increasing carbon dioxide on coral reefs. Scientific uncertainties and the long time scales relative to more immediate problems continue to act as barriers to the development and adoption of management responses. Thus, coping strategies should fully consider and integrate climate variability and change into coastal planning, and implement mitigation and adaptation mechanisms that offer the best chance for the long-term sustainability of coastal resources.