Guidance for Integrating Climate Change Information in Greater Atlantic Region Habitat Conservation Division Consultation Processes

  • Michael R Johnson
  • Christopher Boelke
  • Lou Chiarella
  • Karen Greene
Keywords: climate change; marine habitats; coastal habitats; climate change guidance


There is a growing body of knowledge that climate change has already affected, and will increasingly affect, the nation’s ability to maintain productive and resilient ecosystems. Climate change is having global and regional effects on marine, estuarine, and riverine habitats and prey that are critical to sustaining fisheries. Some of these effects include warming waters, changes to coastal wetland productivity and resilience from rising sea levels, increased stratification and hypoxia, acidification of ocean water, and changes in primary productivity.

While impacts to and degradation of coastal habitats are historically associated with coastal development activities, such as land-use and land-cover change, point and non-point pollution, extraction of natural resources, dredging and filling of wetlands, and the loss of and physical obstructions to freshwater habitats for migratory fish, it is also becoming evident that climate change will exacerbate the vulnerability of habitats that are already affected by natural and other anthropogenic stressors.

This guidance was developed to assist the Greater Atlantic Region Habitat Conservation Division (HCD) increase effectiveness, efficiency, and consistency when evaluating the effects of climate change on NOAA trust resources and develop advice to avoid and minimize adverse effects to those resources. Part 1 of this guidance includes a strategy and process for integrating climate change information into the HCD consultation processes. Part 2 provides a synthesis of global and regional information on climate change science and the effects of climate change on coastal and marine ecosystems. In addition, a summary of existing climate change resources and tools (e.g., website links to reports, studies, and climate projection models) has been included to assist HCD staff in assessing and communicating climate-related impacts on NOAA trust resources.