On global and regional scales, the ocean is changing due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and associated global climate change. Regional physical changes include sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding, and changes in precipitation and land runoff, ocean atmosphere circulation, and ocean water properties. These changes in turn lead to biotic responses within ocean ecosystems, including changes in physiology, phenology, and population connectivity, as well as species range shifts.
The year  was characterized by a transition from a waning La Niña to a strengthening El Niño, which first developed in June. By December, SSTs were more than 2.0°C above average over large parts of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. Eastward surface current anomalies, associated with the El Niño, were strong across the equatorial Pacific, reaching values similar to the 2002 El Niño during November and December 2009.
The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact was signed by Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties in 2009 to coordinate mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines. The Compact represents a new form of regional climate governance designed to allow local governments to set the agenda for adaptation while providing an efficient means for state and federal agencies to engage with technical assistance and support.
Scenic Hudson, a land trust based in New York, is conserving properties along the Hudson River to buffer against future sea level rise impacts, engaging with the public through education and outreach projects to encourage low-carbon development, and engaging with policymakers to update coastal management regulations in anticipation of more frequent and more intense flood events and sea level rise. To target and prioritize land acquisitions, the land trust used GIS to integrate criterion based upon scenic value, biological or ecological significance, and vulnerability to sea level rise.
The StormSmart Coasts program is designed to help coastal communities address the challenges arising from storms, floods, sea level rise, and climate change, and provides a menu of tools for successful coastal floodplain management.
The Coastal Resilience network supports a community of practitioners around the world who are applying planning innovations to coastal hazard and adaptation issues. The network provides access to peer practitioners, tools, information and training focused on nature-based solutions in a consistent and cost effective manner.
Coastal Resilience sites exist for different regions, including:
The Maine Sea Grant College Program, in partnership with the Oregon Sea Grant College Program, conducted a two-year NOAA-funded project: 1) to explore how climate variability and coastal hazards may be affecting our coastal regions and how these relate to coastal development in the two states; 2) to encourage and facilitate collaboration among and between decision makers and coastal property owners to determine and implement appropriate responses to climate variability on short and longer timescales; 3) to discover the barriers that targeted audiences in the states have to taking action to
This project examined the vulnerability of two urban, environmental justice communities in metropolitan Boston to the effects of coastal flooding. Through visualization tools and workshops, the project team engaged residents on climate change impacts and worked to identify feasible adaptation options.
With funding from the Nova Scotia provincial government as well as a local power company, Clean Nova Scotia was able to expand the programmatic work of their Climate Change Centre to include community capacity building workshops for adaptation. The Centre’s workshops aim to inform the community, faith-based groups, schools, and First Nation tribes about expected climate change impacts and engage stakeholders in a meaningful dialogue on preparing for future conditions.