Graham Sustainability Institute

Assessing How Climate Change Will Affect Coastal Habitats in the Northeast

April 2016

Climate change will significantly affect coastal habitats as sea levels, storms, erosion, and water quality change. However, the impacts on different habitats in different locations will vary, and it is not clear how coastal managers should best protect vulnerable habitats such as marshes, seagrass beds, and dunes. A more complete understanding of risks could help coastal managers prioritize actions that could enhance the resilience of coastal habitats. A new tool has been developed, the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH), to help land managers, decision makers, and researchers develop conservation management, and restoration plans for coastal habitats. This assessment tool identifies primary sources of vulnerability to assist with prioritizing coastal habitat management actions. As part of this project, four estuarine reserves in New England will conduct assessments of their areas, demonstrating the utility of the tool to support adaptive management in response to climate change. This fact sheet provides an overview of the project, supported by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS)