Adapting to Climate Change: A Planning Guide for State Coastal Managers

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Posted on: 9/06/2010 - Updated on: 9/08/2023

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The purpose of this guide is to help U.S. state and territorial (state) coastal managers develop and implement adaptation plans to reduce the impacts and consequences of climate change and climate variability. It was written in response to a request from state coastal managers for guidance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on adaptation planning in the coastal zone. It is intended as an aid, not as a prescriptive directive, and a state may choose to use individual steps or chapters or the entire guide, depending on where they are in their planning process.

A climate change adaptation plan identifies and assesses the impacts that are likely to affect the planning area, develops goals and actions to best  minimize these impacts, and establishes a process to implement those actions. While an adaptation plan for the coast or the larger state may stand alone, planning to adapt to climate change should be incorporated to varying degrees in all statewide planning efforts (as well as regional and local planning efforts).

As illustrated by its mission goals to “protect, restore, and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through an ecosystem approach to  anagement” and “understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond,” NOAA is committed to helping coastal  communities prepare for and respond to climate change. This includes protecting and managing coastal resources to meet social, environmental, and economic needs.

The intent of this document is to help guide coastal managers at the state level in their initial and ongoing climate change adaptation planning efforts. Planning is not a one-time event, and as the science and tools to understand and address climate change evolve, so should the associated plans and strategies.


NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. (2010). Adapting to climate change: A planning guide for state coastal managers. Retrieved from CAKE:

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