Helping Make Our Estuaries “Climate-Ready”

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By Mellissa Brosius EPA works with coastal managers to assess climate change vulnerabilities, develop and implement adaptation strategies, and engage and educate stakeholders

By Mellissa Brosius
EPA works with coastal managers to assess climate change vulnerabilities, develop and implement adaptation strategies, and engage and educate stakeholders

By Ashley Brosius

For as far back as I can remember, my family has vacationed at our beach house in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The house sits just one block from the beach and abuts the channel, so we have gorgeous views on all sides of the wraparound porch.

As I grew up, my personal interests in the natural environment led me to my professional pursuits in environmental protection. Working with the EPA Climate Ready Estuaries program continues to drive home the need to adapt to our changing climate, such as adjusting to rising water levels. Taking action is especially important in low lying coastal communities like the one that includes my family beach home. My mother often speaks of leaving the house to me some day, but I wonder if it will still be standing in 15-20 years.

Yet, my work with Climate Ready Estuaries has been encouraging. Our team works with the National Estuary Program and coastal managers to figure out where climate change could cause problems, create plans to handle them, and educate everyone affected. National Estuary Program staff are already out there working with coastal communities so they can better adapt and become more resilient to the myriad of potential impacts of climate change. For example, the work being done by the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program is helping to raise awareness of regional climate impacts. The San Juan Bay Estuary Program is working to limit climate impacts by estimating vulnerabilities. There are also many regional and city-specific adaptation efforts underway, like the Southeast Florida regional climate change compact and New York City’s adaptation plan.

But, most encouraging of all are the efforts underway to make progress on the White House Climate Action Plan. These local projects will receive guidance and resources from programs like the one I work on every day. I know the likelihood is slim that our family vacation home will still be standing 250 years from now. At least I know that our country is taking steps to preserve the broader community and make it more resilient for the tough road ahead.

This year, go make some memories of your own by celebrating the 25th anniversary of National Estuaries Day on September 28, 2013!

About the author: Ashley Brosius is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education participant working in EPA’s office of water in the Climate Ready Estuaries program.

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