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Are coastal managers ready for climate change? A case study from estuaries along the Pacific coast of the United States

April 6, 2017

A key challenge for coastal resource managers is to plan and implement climate change adaptation strategies inlight of uncertainties and competing management priorities. In 2014, we held six workshops across estuaries along the Pacific coast of North America with over 150 participants to evaluate resource managers' perceived level of understanding of climate change science, where they obtain information, how they use this knowledge, and their preparedness for incorporating climate change into their management decisions. We found that most resource managers understood the types of climate change impacts likely to occur in their estuaries, but often lacked the scientific information to make decisions and plan effectively. Managers stated that time, money, and staff resources were the largest obstacles in their efforts. Managers identified that they learned most of their information from peers, scientific journals, and the Internet and indicated that sea-level rise was their greatest concern. There was, however, variation in managers' levels of readiness and perceived knowledge within and among workshop locations. The workshops revealed that some regions don't have the information they need or the planning capacity to effectively integrate climate change into their management, with eight out of fifteen site comparisons showing a significant difference between their level of preparedness (F5,26 = 6.852; p = 0.0003), and their willingness to formally plan (F5,26 = 12.84; p = 0.000002). We found that Urban estuaries were significantly different from Mixed Use and Rural estuaries, in having access to information and feeling more prepared to conduct climate change planning and implementation (F2,29 = 17.34; p = 0.00001). To facilitate climate change preparedness more comprehensive integration of science into management decisions is essential.

Publication Year 2017
Title Are coastal managers ready for climate change? A case study from estuaries along the Pacific coast of the United States
DOI 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2017.02.010
Authors Karen M. Thorne, Deborah L. Elliott-Fisk, Chase M. Freeman, Thuy-Vy D. Bui, Katherine Powelson, Christopher Janousek, Kevin J. Buffington, John Y. Takekawa
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ocean and Coastal Management
Index ID 70186597
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center