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North Carolina and Florida Estuaries Among Those Preparing to Be Climate Ready

Release Date: 06/19/2008
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, (404) 562-8421, harris-yound.dawn@epa.gov

(ATLANTA – Jun. 19, 2008) EPA has selected six estuaries, including Albemarle-Pamlico Sounds in North Carolina and Charlotte Harbor in Florida, to be case studies for local action to protect sensitive coastal ecosystems and economies from the potential effects of climate change. This is the first step in EPA’s new “Climate Ready Estuaries” effort to build local ability to adapt to climate change.

“EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries work will help coastal communities understand and adapt to climate change,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. “Our aim is to build capacity for local decision makers and resource managers to help take pro-active, practical steps for bays at risk.”

Within the U.S., the Southeast is considered to be the area most susceptible to climate change. And, within the Southeast, the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound National Estuary is one of three areas with the greatest potential for being adversely affected by climate change, while the Charlotte Harbor Estuary is particularly susceptible to potential sea level rise associated with climate change.

The other four pilots include New Hampshire Estuaries Project, Massachusetts Bays Estuary Program, Partnership for Delaware Bay and San Francisco Estuary Project.

Each estuary program will receive technical assistance to assess and reduce their vulnerability to climate change. The pilot projects in Florida and North Carolina will engage residents from Sanibel Island and the coastal region of North Carolina, respectively, to prepare to adapt to climate change and mitigate adverse impacts. The programs will apply analyses and tools to help them make decisions to protect their communities and build knowledge to help other communities adapt to a changing climate. Communities with plans approved by their local stakeholders will be designated as “Climate Ready Estuaries” by EPA.

The Climate Ready Estuaries effort will take the lessons learned from the pilots to provide information and leadership to other coastal communities around the nation. Under the Climate Ready Estuaries framework, EPA will use the 28 National Estuary Programs, Web-based resources and other means identified through the initial pilots to support local efforts in all of the nation’s coastal communities to effectively plan and adapt to climate change.

The Climate Ready Estuaries program is one of more than 40 specific actions to respond to the water-related impacts of climate change that are described in a draft strategy developed by the National Water Program. The draft strategy is designed to help water resource managers adapt their programs to a changing climate.

For more information on Climate Ready Estuaries: http://www.epa.gov/owow/estuaries/cre.html

For information on the water climate change strategy: http://www.epa.gov/water/climatechange