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Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies

Rebecca Beavers, National Park Service (NPS), Edited by Courtney A. Schupp, Rebecca Beavers, and Maria A. Caffrey
Created: 11/27/2015 - Updated: 7/10/2019

Abstract

Innovative and unique solutions are being devised throughout the national park system to adapt to climate change in coastal parks. The 24 case studies in this document describe efforts at national park units in a variety of settings to prepare for and respond to climate change impacts that can take the form of either an event or a trend. Examples of these impacts include increased storminess, sea level rise, shoreline erosion, melting sea ice and permafrost, ocean acidification, warming temperatures, groundwater inundation, precipitation, and drought. The adaptation efforts described here include historic structure preservation, archeological surveys, baseline data collection and documentation, habitat restoration, engineering solutions, redesign and relocation of infrastructure, and development of broad management plans that consider climate change. Each case study also includes a point of contact for park managers to request additional information and insight.

These case studies initially were developed by park managers as part of a NPS-led coastal adaptation to climate change training hosted by Western Carolina University in May 2012. The case studies format follows the format created for EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) database that identified a list of adaptation strategies. All case studies were updated and modified in September 2013 and March 2015 in response to a growing number of requests from coastal parks and other coastal management agencies looking for examples of climate change adaptation strategies for natural and cultural resources and assets along their ocean, lacustrine, and riverine coasts. 

Published On

Monday, November 30, 2015

Keywords

Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Air temperature
Culture / communities
Erosion
Flooding
Infrastructure damage
Lake level
Ocean acidification
Permafrost
Precipitation
Public health risks
Public safety threats
Sea level rise
Species of concern
Storms or extreme weather events
Water supply
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate climate-smart guidelines into restoration
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Enhance migration corridors and other connectivity measures
Reduce local climate or related change
Reduce non-climate stressors
Capacity Building
Design or reform institutions
Coordinate planning and management
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Host adaptation training or planning workshop
Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy
Create/enhance resources and tools
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Managed retreat of built infrastructure, relocation of people/communities
Make infrastructure resistant or resilient to climate change
Governance and Policy
Create new or enhance existing policies or regulations
Develop / implement adaptation plans
Climate Type: 
Temperate
Subtropical
Subpolar
Sociopolitical Setting: 
Urban
Rural
Suburban

Related Resources

Reservoir Water Level Change Impacts on Cultural Resources, Amistad National Recreation Area, Texas

Photo attributed to Maekju. This work has been released into the public domain by its author. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Amistad National Recreation Area, Texas, protects many archeological sites in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands region of southwest Texas. Sites are affected by lake level fluctuations related to climate change impacts including precipitation, storms, and changes in agricultural water use. Park managers are documenting the impact of changing water levels on the cultural resources in the park. 

Summary: 

Archeological sites and traditional resources of significance to indigenous groups along the Olympic Coast are being affected by climate change. The goals of this project can be split into three facets.

Shell Mound Sites Threatened by Sea Level Rise and Erosion, Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

Photo attributed to Ebyabe. Incorporated here under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Canaveral National Seashore contains several of the largest, most intact, and most significant prehistoric shell mounds in North America. Four of these mounds are threatened by erosion induced by sea level rise and increased storm activities.

Adaptation Phase: 
Assessment
Summary: 

Climate change has increased the vulnerability of cultural resources in coastal locations at Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument along the northwestern Alaska coast. The Alaska Regional Office is developing and testing a GIS model that is intended to predict locations and vulnerability of these cultural resources. 

Summary: 

Sea level rise and increased tropical storm intensity pose a serious risk to the long-term sustainability of historic Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida.

Eroding Shoreline Threatens Historic Peale Island Cabin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Photo attributed to USGS. Incorporated here under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Yellowstone National Park collaborated with the National Park Service Geologic Resources Division (NPS GRD) to examine the causes of shoreline erosion on Peale Island and to identify adaptation options for protecting the shoreline and a historic cabin on the island. 

Summary: 

The goal of this project was to develop a plan to stabilize a historic lighthouse at Fort Pulaski National Monument in a way that considered expected sea level rise and related impacts.

Summary: 

Climate change impacts, including coastal erosion, reduction in sea ice, and thawing of permafrost, are impacting Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (BELA) and Cape Krusenstern National Monument (CAKR) along the northwestern Alaska coast.

Recognizing Coral Adaptations to Environmental Stressors, National Park of American Samoa

This image has been released into the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the National Park Service. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Ofu Lagoon, part of the National Park of American Samoa, contains a healthy coral reef habitat that supports a diversity of species. The park is working with university partners towards the goal of understanding the unique adaptations of the coral in Ofu Lagoon to multiple environmental stressors associated with climate change.

Restoring the Giacomini Wetlands from Agricultural Lands, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Photo attributed to Robert Campbell, robertcampbellphotography.com. No endorsement by author implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Point Reyes National Seashore developed the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project to restore tidal wetlands from diked agricultural lands.

Consideration of Shackleford Banks Renourishment, Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina

Photo attributed to Bonnie Gruenberg. Incorporated here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Cape Lookout National Seashore had to evaluate whether it was appropriate to pursue opportunities to mitigate shoreline erosion along Shackleford Banks, a proposed wilderness area.

Summary: 

The large-scale project known as the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) is intended to restore multiple barrier islands and protect cultural resources within Gulf Islands National Seashore by recreating sediment transport processes and replacing a portion of sediment lost to dredging and storm impacts. 

Rehabilitating Stream Crossings on Historic Roads, Acadia National Park, Maine

Photo attributed to Joseph Zarro. Incorporated here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Internationallicense. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Acadia National Park in Maine is working to rehabilitate historic road systems and culverts that have been damaged by increasingly frequent flooding and erosion events that were causing maintenance and visitor use closures.

Summary: 

Assateague Island National Seashore is responsible for maintaining and managing access to a recreational beach that is impacted by storms multiple times each year. Maintaining the recreational beach in its present location is unsustainable in the face of continued storms, shoreline erosion, and sea level rise.

Reducing Vulnerability of Coastal Visitor Facilities, Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Photo attributed to Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue. Incorporated here under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, needs to replace visitor facilities along a popular beach vulnerable to coastal erosion and storm impacts. Redesigning this area required collaboration with visitors, town representatives, coastal engineers, and scientists to incorporate visitor use and needs with the realities of coastal change. 

Developing Sustainable Visitor Facilities, Everglades National Park, Florida

Photo attributed to the dronepicr. Incorporated here under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Visitor facilities in the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park in Florida were destroyed by two hurricanes in 2005. Incorporating climate change sustainability into the redevelopment plan has required extensive data gathering efforts and public engagement. 

Establishing Alternative Transportation to Fort Pickens to Supplement Vulnerable Road Access, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

Photo attributed to Tony Webster. Incorporated here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. No endorsement by licensor implied. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

In Florida, the Fort Pickens Road within Gulf Islands National Seashore is regularly destroyed by storms, and repairs are expensive and time consuming. The park continues to reevaluate the local conditions and implement cost-effective, sustainable modes of visitor access to Fort Pickens beaches and the historic fort. 

The Need for Storm Recovery Plans, Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina

Photo attributed to the NPS/Michael B. Edwards. Incorporated here under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Cape Lookout National Seashore is regularly impacted by hurricanes and other storms. To improve park management, the park needed to develop a post-storm recovery plan to ensure wise fiscal decisions and management of public expectations for what facilities and services can be restored following these major events. 

Summary: 

Golden Gate National Recreation Area is collaborating with local, state, and federal agencies to develop a long-term management strategy for Ocean Beach, where bluff erosion threatens natural and recreational resources, wastewater infrastructure, and a roadway (the Great Highway). Sea level rise and increased storminess are expected to increase the frequency of erosional events. 

Incorporating Climate Change Response into a General Management Plan, Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia

This image has been released into the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the National Park Service. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Summary: 

Assateague Island National Seashore is developing a general management plan that addresses projected climate change impacts on resources and infrastructure. The plan must include a range of management tools for improving resource resiliency and repairing facilities that will be impacted by climate change and storms. 

Summary: 

The National Park Service Geologic Resources Division (NPS GRD) is working with the University of Colorado Boulder to develop sea level change and storm surge data that parks can use for planning purposes over multiple time horizons. 

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