Downscaling climate change models to local site conditions: effects of sea-level rise and extreme events on coastal habitats and their wildlife

Project Summary

Coastal land managers are faced with many challenges and uncertainties in planning adaptive strategies for conserving coastal habitats at the land-sea interface under future climate change scenarios.  As transitional ecotones between the marine and terrestrial environment, intertidal to shallow subtidal habitats along the Pacific coast are particularly sensitive to change.  Projected climate change effects on coastal environments include sea-level rise, increased storm magnitude and frequency, salt water intrusion, accelerated erosion, shifting mud flat profiles, and increased water temperature and acidity.  The subtidal and intertidal zones of shallow bays, mud flats, and salt marshes are a linked continuum, and thus, understanding the complex relationships between them is critical to project the effect of climate change stressors.  Regional climate simulations that downscale relatively coarse-resolution climate information to finer spatial scales are necessary to predict responses of coastal habitats. In addition, incorporating projections of storm activity under climate change is necessary to develop wildlife assessments.  Interdisciplinary integration of physical and ecological response models can provide novel projections on nearshore habitats that will better inform manager decisions.  With support from the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and Southwest and Northwest Climate Science Centers, we propose a detailed bottom-up approach to assess vulnerability of Pacific coast habitats and their dependent wildlife at selected sites along a latitudinal gradient.  We will examine the potential climate change effects on transitional coastal habitats with high-quality local habitat data, downscaled climate models, and projected storm effects, and we will link habitat responses to wildlife using vulnerability assessments. Due to a technical problem, this webinar was unable to be recorded. However, the powerpoint slides used by John Takekawa can be downloaded or viewed as a PDF. Please also refer to a very similar presentation that John Takekawa gave for NCTC's Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change Series that can be found here.

Project Researchers

John Takekawa, Research Wildlife Biologist, Western Ecological Research Center, Vallejo, CA

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