Coastal Concerns in Draft Climate Assessment
Today, a Federal Advisory Committee issued a draft report for public comment describing the state of the climate in the U.S. The extensive draft of the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) attempts to cover a wide range of issues and impacts of climate change, and although we’re only scratching the surface of the draft, the picture isn’t pretty.
We’ll publish more here when we’ve had a chance to read it in more detail. (And CCN will supply comments on the draft during the comment period.) But here are the key messages from Chapter 25 of the report — the chapter dealing with coastal concerns. Tough stuff:
Coastal lifelines, such as water supply and energy infrastructure and evacuation routes, are increasingly vulnerable to higher sea levels and storm surges, inland flooding, and other climate-related changes.
Climate change increases exposure of nationally important assets, such as ports, tourism and fishing sites, in already-vulnerable coastal locations, threatening to disrupt economic activity beyond the coast and incurring significant costs for protecting or moving them.
Socioeconomic disparities create uneven exposures and sensitivities to coastal risks and limit adaptation options for some coastal communities, resulting in the displacement of the most vulnerable from coastal areas.
Coastal ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change because many have already been dramatically altered by human stresses; climate change will result in further reduction or loss of the services that these ecosystems provide, including potentially irreversible impacts.
Growing awareness of the high vulnerability of coasts to climate change increasingly leads coastal regions to plan for potential impacts on their citizens, businesses, and environmental assets. Significant institutional, political, social, and economic obstacles to implementing adaptation actions remain.
The NCA is authorized by the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and is being managed by the Global Change Research Program.