Sea Level Rise in the Gulf of Mexico: Awareness and Action Tools for the Climate Outreach Community of Practice
The four Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration Team are coordinating the creation of a Community of Practice of extension, outreach, and education professionals around climate change issues. The project team hosted a workshop in April 2010 to discuss existing attitudes and knowledge on sea level rise, identify needed information and resources to support sea level rise adaptation, and create a regional approach to climate change outreach and education.
Sea level rise in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to amplify other effects, such as coastal erosion, flooding, salinization of water supplies, and loss of habitat for plants and wildlife. In April 2010, the Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Workshop on sea level rise was held in St. Petersburg, Florida. This workshop was held in order to create a Community of Practice (CoP) of extension, outreach, and education professionals devoted to increasing knowledge of and community resilience to climate change.
The workshop was attended by 75 representatives of extension and outreach agencies, planners, experts, and Sea Grant directors from the Gulf of Mexico. The workshop’s objectives included:
- discussing attitudes/perceptions/knowledge on climate change and sea level rise;
- learning from existing sea level rise preparation activities in the region;
- sharing existing and identifying needed resources to support sea level rise adaptation; and
- crafting a strategy for a regional, collaborative approach to climate change outreach.
Case studies were presented on existing efforts to address sea level rise in the region; representatives from the Apalachicola and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves in Florida, St. Tammany Parish (Louisiana), and the cities of Ocean Springs (Mississippi), Orange Beach (Florida), and Punta Gorda (Florida), provided details on their efforts.
Workshop attendees discussed opportunities for collaboration, including developing and implementing a common research framework, using historical sea level rise rates in education, and developing a consistent, science-based message that is relatable to people in the Gulf region. In addition, attendees discussed target audiences for climate change outreach, including local government officials, community planners, meteorologists, science educators, and city attorneys.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The April 2010 workshop was held to facilitate collaboration and creation of a CoP around climate change in the Gulf of Mexico. Members of the CoP are working on a draft climate outreach message on sea level rise and summary fact sheets for local professionals. The CoP plans to exchange information through StormSmart Connect and annual face-to-face meetings. A second workshop was held in Mississippi in 2011.
In addition, a sea level rise toolkit has been developed for extension, outreach, and education professionals; it is available on the project’s website. The toolkit consists of:
- Sea level rise science documents from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council.
- Documents on local impacts predictions, such as the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council’s The Effects of Climate Change on Florida’s Ocean and Coastal Resources.
- Resources on social and economic impacts, such as NOAA’s The Gulf of Mexico at a Glance and Texas Sea Grant’s The Resilient Coast: Policy frameworks for adapting the built environment to climate change and growth in coastal areas of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
- Resources containing adaptation strategies and case studies, such as the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Climate Decision Making.
Gregg, R. M. (2010). Sea Level Rise in the Gulf of Mexico: Awareness and Action Tools for the Climate Outreach Community of Practice [Case study on a project of NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration Team]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/sea-level-rise-gulf-mexico-awareness-and-act… (Last updated December 2010)