Climate change is now widely acknowledged as a global problem that threatens the success of marine and coastal conservation, management, and policy. Mitigation and adaptation are the two approaches commonly used to address actual and projected climate change impacts. Mitigation applies to efforts to decrease the rate and extent of climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or the enhancement of carbon uptake and storage; adaptation deals with minimizing the negative effects or exploiting potential opportunities of climate change. Because the benefits of mitigation are not immediate and because we are already committed to a certain amount of climate change, adaptation has been increasingly viewed as an essential component of an effective climate change response strategy. The field of adaptation is developing rapidly but in an ad hoc fashion, and organizations and governments are often challenged to make sense of the dispersed information that is available.
The intent of this report is to provide a brief overview of key climate change impacts on the natural and built environments in marine and coastal North America and a review of adaptation options available to and in use by marine and coastal managers. This report presents the results of EcoAdapt’s efforts to survey, inventory, and assess adaptation projects from different regions, jurisdictions, and scales throughout North America’s marine and coastal environments.