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Assessing Vulnerability to Climate Impacts

Increasingly frequent and intense storms and other weather events exacerbate the effect of rising sea levels to coastal ecosystems.
Increasingly frequent and intense storms and other weather events exacerbate the effect of rising sea levels to coastal ecosystems.

Storms, sea level rise, and droughts damage shorelines, alter habitats, and impair water quality. Changes in the frequency or intensity of storms and other weather events coupled with the possible acceleration of sea level rise will further degrade systems with massive ecological and economic consequences. The vulnerability of coastal areas varies with location, the type and topography of shoreline, and the amount of development.

We provide coastal managers and communities the information and tools to assess their vulnerability and prepare for climate change impacts with more certainty in scale, timing and local detail. In general, marshes, tidal creeks, beaches, coral reefs, and low lying developed areas in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Gulf Coast are especially at risk.

Communities use our models, forecasts, and GIS-based mapping tools to visualize the effects of gradual and abrupt changes in water levels, water quality, and thermal stress. Ongoing assessments are evaluating risk in NOAA's Sanctuaries and Research Reserves.