Helping Coastal and Marine Environments Adapt to Climate Change
June 19, 2009
Marine and coastal resources are particularly vulnerable to projected changes in the Earth's climate. Increases in ocean and air temperature, the acidification of the oceans, greater spring run-off, rising sea levels, and shifts in ocean circulation are some of the key physical changes that will stress marine and coastal environments. Among the significant ecological impacts: coral bleaching, species invasion, changes in species distribution and biodiversity, and reduced biological productivity.
A new report entitled "An Adaptation Portfolio for the United States Coastal and Marine Environment" by RFF University Fellow James Sanchirico and David Kling of the University of California-Davis examines a range of public policies to enhance the resilience of human and natural systems to the impact of climate change and variability for marine and coastal environments within the United States and its territories.
The paper is one of a series issued as part of a major RFF project on domestic adaptation policy.
Understanding, valuing, and managing these complex risks and trade‐offs will require interdisciplinary teams of researchers along with adequate representations of stakeholders. We conclude with a recommendation firmly grounded in economic theory: because the effects of climate change on marine and coastal areas are uncertain and we will have many opportunities to learn along the way, policymakers at all levels should focus on adaptive policies that are flexible, designed to facilitate learning about the system, and that avoid large, irreversible outlays of capital."