Science in Support of Adaptation Planning for Climate Variability and Coastal Hazard Vulnerability in the Chesapeake Bay
Project Status: This project began in June 2014 and is Ongoing
The Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, provides people with valuable ecosystem services. Impacts from climate change, including sea level rise and changes in precipitation, can threaten these services. We are developing community-level indicators and collecting necessary data to support a vulnerability assessment and subsequent adaptation plan for a Chesapeake Bay community in order to improve the community’s resilience to climate and coastal hazard impacts.
Why We Care
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States, with a total of 11,684 miles of shoreline along the bay and its tributaries. For over a century, the bay and its watershed have provided people with valuable ecosystem services. The history, culture, and economy of communities in this region are deeply intertwined with the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. Climate and coastal hazard impacts could threaten the fishing, tourism, property, and shipping industries of the Chesapeake Bay, which generate $60 billion annually. Understanding the vulnerabilities of communities along the bay to climate and coastal hazard impacts—like sea level rise, coastal erosion, and increased frequency of severe storms—requires an integrated approach. The tools and information we are generating through this project will improve the community’s resilience to a changing climate as well as other coastal hazards.
What We Are Doing
We are evaluating the vulnerability of a community in the Chesapeake Bay region to the localized impacts of climate variability and change and other coastal hazards. To accomplish this, we are first developing a set of appropriate indicators, then gathering and analyzing existing social, ecological, and climate data to characterize the selected community. We will compile the findings into information products for the community.
The vulnerability indicators will span the following areas:
Social/Economic – e.g., population demographics, economic characteristics, well-being, physical infrastructure
Cultural – e.g., historic resources
Ecological – e.g., hydrographic parameters (salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen), water quality (nutrients, pathogen indicators)
Hydrological – e.g., land use, soil types, precipitation patterns
Finally, we will assist in the facilitation of stakeholder engagement to ensure that vulnerability and risk are appropriately identified and translated in a way that will serve as a foundation for the community to address risk and identify adaptation strategies moving forward. The data provided, in conjunction with a stakeholder process, will aid the community in risk reduction by fostering the identification of adaptation and restoration strategies, which will ultimately allow for the production of an adaptation plan. Ultimately, the community will be better prepared for response, recovery, and resilience to climate and coastal hazard impacts.
Though the initial data collection and development of a vulnerability assessment tool focus on a single community of the Chesapeake Bay, the methodological approach is intended for application across a wide range of coastal communities. This will allow us to support additional coastal communities in different states and regions with the science needed for adaptation planning.
The project team includes partners from NOAA/NCCOS, the Maryland CoastSmart Program, the Chesapeake Bay NERR, OCRM/CSC, and Maryland SeaGrant.
Regions of Study: Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
Primary Contacts: Maria Dillard, Theresa Goedeke
Climate Impacts (Climate Adaptation, Vulnerability Assessments, Impacts of Changing Temperature and Hydrology, Impacts of Sea Level Rise)
Science for Coastal Ecosystem Management (Ecological Forecasts and Tools, Human Dimensions)
Related NCCOS Centers: CCMA, HML
Data Collections and Related Websites