Paper No. 78-3
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM
PLANNING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE IN COASTAL NATIONAL PARKS: MANAGING FOR SEA LEVEL RISE AND STORMS
Climate change presents numerous challenges for the protection of the U.S. National Park Service natural and cultural resources. In addition to rising temperatures and changing precipitation regimes, increases in relative sea level threaten to alter the natural and cultural resources of many parks, and have the potential to submerge large areas of several coastal parks such as Cape Hatteras National Seashore or Everglades National Park. The NPS coastal geology team has identified approximately 105 coastal parks that will be affected by rising relative sea level; this number will be higher if potential storm surges are taken into account. Many parks already experience increased coastal inundation due to recent changes in relative sea level. Rising sea levels will compound effects from increased intensity, and possibly frequency, of storms, especially hurricanes, nor’easters, and typhoons. In this paper we outline the work that is underway to respond to climate change in our coastal national parks. We draw on examples of adaptation and mitigation measures that have been developed to help reduce the impact of climate change in the coastal zone. We will also introduce a new University of Colorado Boulder/National Park Service project that examines how changes in relative sea level coupled with increased storm surge may affect coastal parks. We discuss how park planners currently use tide gauge data for coastal parks as well as our upcoming work to calculate what future rises in sea level may be. In particular, we outline how the information we provide to individual park units can be hindered by a lack of regional information on geophysical processes (isostasy, rates of erosion, etc.), limiting the accuracy of relative sea level rise projections for planning. Even with these data limitations, planners must still include multiple time horizons in planning documents.