Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Long Island Sound via Sentinel Monitoring

Rachel M. Gregg
Posted on: 3/30/2010 - Updated on: 10/28/2021

Posted by

Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

In 2009, the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) received a technical assistance award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program to create a bi-state sentinel monitoring strategy between the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The Climate Change and Sentinel Monitoring Program (formerly the Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change Program) aims to quantify local climate changes in the environment and provide an early warning system to support the development and implementation of adaptation strategies.


In 2008, a LISS Management Committee meeting recommended that sentinel monitoring sites in Long Island Sound (LIS) be established as a way to quantify climate-driven changes (e.g., warming, sea-level rise, shifts in species composition). LISS worked with the Connecticut DEEP and New York State DEC to begin developing a sentinel monitoring plan that helps scientists and managers understand and respond to climate change in the region. Project leads summarized existing monitoring efforts in LIS and developed criteria to evaluate and select indicators that would serve as major sentinels to measure climate change impacts.

In 2009, LISS received a technical assistance award from the Climate Ready Estuaries Program to enhance planning efforts for sentinel monitoring.


In 2011, the Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change in Long Island Sound Program (SMCCP) released its first strategic plan. The SMCCP is a multidisciplinary approach to provide early warnings of climate change impacts to LIS ecosystems, species, and processes and to facilitate appropriate adaptation responses. The SMCCP strategy makes recommendations of what parameters should be measured to provide sentinel detection of climate change impacts and includes both short-term monitoring (i.e. pilot program) and long-term priorities.

Since the development of the SMCCP and the 2011 strategy, three LISS pilot projects have been completed: (1) coastal indicators of wildlife and ecosystem change in LIS; (2) are salt marshes in LIS keeping pace with sea-level rise; and (3) detecting climate change impacts in LIS. In 2018, SMCCP released an updated strategic plan, which includes recommendations to continue existing monitoring strategies, hold workshops to identify additional data and centralize available data, develop a sentinel monitoring network, and promote citizen science. The strategy revision also identified two more indicators to monitor in LIS.

In addition to sentinel monitoring, LISS is incorporating a Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) into vulnerability assessments to determine how coastlines will respond to sea-level rise. LIS SLAMM results are available online.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The SMCCP was recently renamed to the Climate Change and Sentinel Monitoring Program. An information clearinghouse was created, which includes information about climate change in LIS, sentinels for monitoring climate change, links to the strategic plans, and a geospatial database of monitoring programs and research projects in the Northeast.

Long Island Sound Resource Center Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change Program
Long Island Sound Study: Climate Change and Sentinel Monitoring Research Projects
Long Island Sound Study: Sea Level Affecting Marshes Modeling
Sentinels of Climate Change: Coastal Indicators of Wildlife and Ecosystem Change in Long Island Sound
Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change in the Long Island Sound Estuarine and Coastal Ecosystems of New York and Connecticut Volume 2 (2018)


Gregg, R. M. (2021). Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Long Island Sound via Sentinel Monitoring [Case study on a project of the Long Island Sound Study and Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: (Last updated August 2021)

Project Contact

Sarah Deonarine
State Lead – Sentinel Monitoring
NY State Department of Environmental Conservation
[email protected]

Project Contacts

Affiliated Organizations

The Long Island Sound Study (LISS) works with federal, state, and local partners to restore and protect Long Island Sound. In 1994, the program’s goals were identified in LISS’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (the CCMP).

The DEEP achieves its mission through regulation, monitoring, inspection and enforcement, and licensing procedures that help control air, land and water pollution in order to protect health, safety, welfare and natural resources.

The Climate Ready Estuaries program works with the National Estuary Programs and other coastal managers to: 1) assess climate change vulnerabilities, 2) develop and implement adaptation strategies, 3) engage and educate stakeholders, and 4) share the lessons learned with other coastal managers.


Effort Stage
Scale of Project
Habitat/Biome Type
Sociopolitical Setting
Target Climate Changes and Impacts

Related Resources

Adaptation Phase
Sharing Lessons
Sector Addressed
Climate Justice
Conservation / Restoration
Culture / Communities
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Land Use Planning
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
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