The Climate Change LEADS Project
The Climate Change LEADS Project (Linking Environmental Analysis to Decision Support)was designed to explore and improve the resilience of south Florida’s coral reef systems to climate change.
Climate Change LEADS: Linking Environmental Analysis to Decision Support is an interdisciplinary initiative that is bringing together scientists, natural resource managers and decision-makers at the local, state and federal levels, with a full range of stakeholders to analyze coral resilience to climate change and transform these findings into effective management strategies. Florida’s stakeholders and decision-makers urgently need targeted research, clear communications, and powerful tools to better understand the likely impacts of climate change and coral bleaching so they may develop and implement successful management and mitigation initiatives. This project is synthesizing existing and emerging scientific data to identify resilient populations of coral and uncover the key environmental factors that confer this resilience. All relevant coral bleaching and water quality data for the Florida Keys is being obtained and transferred into a GIS framework to identify patterns in bleaching occurrence and recovery with respect to environmental variables such as water quality. These results are being used to create a tool that will help guide management decisions to better sustain the resilience of this ecosystem as climate change stresses increase. By involving the community and user groups directly in the design and implementation of the project and working closely with local partners such as the Florida Reef Resilience Program (FRRP), the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Nature Conservancy, and a various Universities , WWF has established a critically-important process for information to flow between scientists, stakeholders and managers in the region.