The potential impacts of climate change on the mid-Atlantic coastal region

Raymond Gabriel Najjar, Jr., Henry A. Walker, Patti J. Anderson, Eric J. Barren, Richard J. Bord, Jody R. Gibson, Victor S. Kennedy, C. Gregory Knight, J. Patrick Megonigal, Robert E. O'Connor, Colin D. Polsky, Norbert P. Psuty, Bruce A. Richards, Lisa G. Sorenson, Eric M. Steele, Robert S. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

This paper assesses the potential impacts of climate change on the mid-Atlantic coastal (MAC) region of the United States. In order of increasing uncertainty, it is projected that sea level, temperature and streamflow will increase in the MAC region in response to higher levels of atmospheric CO2. A case study for Delaware based on digital elevation models suggests that, by the end of the 21st century, 1.6% of its land area and 21% of its wetlands will be lost to an encroaching sea. Sea-level rise will also result in higher storm surges, causing 100 yr floods to occur 3 or 4 times more frequently by the end of the 21st century. Increased accretion in coastal wetlands, however, which may occur in response to increases in CO2, temperature, and streamflow, could mitigate some of the flooding effect of sea-level rise. Warming alone will result in northward displacements of some mobile estuarine species and will exacerbate the already low summer oxygen levels in mid-Atlantic estuaries because of increased oxygen demand and decreased oxygen solubility. Streamflow increases could substantially degrade water quality, with significant negative consequences for submerged aquatic vegetation and birds. Though climate change may have some positive impacts on the MAC region, such as increased coastal tourism due to warming and some ecological benefits from less-frequent harsh winters, most impacts are expected to be negative. Policies designed to minimize adverse ecological impacts of human activities on coastal ecosystems in the mid-Atlantic, such as decreases in nutrient loading of watersheds, could help mitigate some of the risks associated with future climate variability and change in this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-233
Number of pages15
JournalClimate Research
Volume14
Issue number3 SPECIAL 7
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2 2000

Fingerprint

Sea level
Climate change
Wetlands
streamflow
climate change
twenty first century
oxygen
Oxygen
warming
Birds
Estuaries
Watersheds
Ecosystems
Nutrients
Water quality
coastal wetland
storm surge
ecological impact
Solubility
digital elevation model

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

Najjar, Jr., R. G., Walker, H. A., Anderson, P. J., Barren, E. J., Bord, R. J., Gibson, J. R., ... Swanson, R. S. (2000). The potential impacts of climate change on the mid-Atlantic coastal region. Climate Research, 14(3 SPECIAL 7), 219-233. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr014219
Najjar, Jr., Raymond Gabriel ; Walker, Henry A. ; Anderson, Patti J. ; Barren, Eric J. ; Bord, Richard J. ; Gibson, Jody R. ; Kennedy, Victor S. ; Knight, C. Gregory ; Megonigal, J. Patrick ; O'Connor, Robert E. ; Polsky, Colin D. ; Psuty, Norbert P. ; Richards, Bruce A. ; Sorenson, Lisa G. ; Steele, Eric M. ; Swanson, Robert S. / The potential impacts of climate change on the mid-Atlantic coastal region. In: Climate Research. 2000 ; Vol. 14, No. 3 SPECIAL 7. pp. 219-233.
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Najjar, Jr., RG, Walker, HA, Anderson, PJ, Barren, EJ, Bord, RJ, Gibson, JR, Kennedy, VS, Knight, CG, Megonigal, JP, O'Connor, RE, Polsky, CD, Psuty, NP, Richards, BA, Sorenson, LG, Steele, EM & Swanson, RS 2000, 'The potential impacts of climate change on the mid-Atlantic coastal region', Climate Research, vol. 14, no. 3 SPECIAL 7, pp. 219-233. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr014219

The potential impacts of climate change on the mid-Atlantic coastal region. / Najjar, Jr., Raymond Gabriel; Walker, Henry A.; Anderson, Patti J.; Barren, Eric J.; Bord, Richard J.; Gibson, Jody R.; Kennedy, Victor S.; Knight, C. Gregory; Megonigal, J. Patrick; O'Connor, Robert E.; Polsky, Colin D.; Psuty, Norbert P.; Richards, Bruce A.; Sorenson, Lisa G.; Steele, Eric M.; Swanson, Robert S.

In: Climate Research, Vol. 14, No. 3 SPECIAL 7, 02.05.2000, p. 219-233.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Barren, Eric J.

AU - Bord, Richard J.

AU - Gibson, Jody R.

AU - Kennedy, Victor S.

AU - Knight, C. Gregory

AU - Megonigal, J. Patrick

AU - O'Connor, Robert E.

AU - Polsky, Colin D.

AU - Psuty, Norbert P.

AU - Richards, Bruce A.

AU - Sorenson, Lisa G.

AU - Steele, Eric M.

AU - Swanson, Robert S.

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Najjar, Jr. RG, Walker HA, Anderson PJ, Barren EJ, Bord RJ, Gibson JR et al. The potential impacts of climate change on the mid-Atlantic coastal region. Climate Research. 2000 May 2;14(3 SPECIAL 7):219-233. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr014219