Responding to sea level rise and extreme events through climate change adaptation strategies: A case study using the network of Atlantic National Wildlife Refuges
Coastal ecosystems and the services they provide to humans are especially vulnerable to climate-related impacts from sea level rise, coastal erosion, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, as well as concomitant influences from human activities including land-use change, hardened shorelines, coastal barriers, habitat fragmentation, invasive species and other stressors. National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) have responsibility for managing many coastal ecosystems, including the fragile habitats, migratory species and listed plant and animal taxa that may be dependent on these areas for all or part of their life cycles. The challenges inherent in these responsibilities became increasingly evident after Hurricane Sandy. The DOI Climate Science Centers (CSCs) are federal-University partnerships created to provide scientific information, tools and techniques that managers and others can use to anticipate, monitor and adapt to climate change.
This presentation will highlight how management-research collaborations between the Northeast and Southeast CSCs and National Wildlife Refuges from Maine to Puerto Rico are addressing questions on how best to adapt to climate change and make climate-informed decisions. Structured Decision Making will be employed to frame and evaluate a set of adaptation strategies that target high priority resources including tidal marsh habitats, highly migratory waterbirds, and cultural resources associated with coastal reserves, enhance the resilience of public trust resources, and assist management agencies cope with and anticipate the challenges of a changing and uncertain future.