Bay Guardian Volunteers

Working Toward a Climate-Ready Estuary

SBEP’s Climate Vulnerability Assessment

The SBEP is working to understand how climate change could affect future watershed management by identifying potential risks to our goals of conserving water quality and habitat in the Sarasota Bay watershed. Within the vast scope of climate change impacts, we will specifically consider four stressors likely to occur in the Sarasota Bay region: higher temperatures, changes in precipitation, sea level rise, and ocean acidification. The first step in conducting a vulnerability assessment of the SBEP’s CCMP was to identify potential vulnerabilities in our goals to climate change impacts. For example, sea level rise could inundate coastal areas, making our habitat restoration goals more difficult to achieve. On November 10th, the SBEP held a joint workshop with the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida to convene over 50 local scientists, non-profit representatives, and other partners in a facilitated conversation about vulnerabilities. Workshop attendees generated over one hundred potential vulnerabilities to SBEP goals. Read the meeting report here. Meeting funding was provided through a grant to SBEP from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Ready Estuaries program.

City of Sarasota’s Climate Vulnerability Assessment

We are fortunate to collaborate with capable and dedicated partners to assess the Sarasota Bay region’s vulnerabilities to climate change. City of Sarasota Sustainability Manager Stevie Freeman-Montes is leading a climate change vulnerability assessment to evaluate how climate change may impact the City’s ability to deliver services like wastewater management and transportation. The first step in the City of Sarasota’s assessment was to decide which climate scenarios to use for planning. A climate scenario is a projection of future conditions under climate change. For example, while scientists agree that sea level is rising, different models project different amounts of rise over different time scales, resulting in multiple possible scenarios. In late November, the Sarasota City Commission approved the use of scenarios based on projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Climate Assessment. These projections, which are in use across the country for climate change planning, represent a consensus of hundreds of scientists and planners. In the coming months, the City of Sarasota will move forward with adaptation planning using these projections. From Stevie Freeman-Montes: “I’m thankful for our City Commission who voted unanimously to dedicate resources for our climate adaptation plan and to all our partners, especially to SBEP and the Science and Environment Council of SW Florida – we look forward to continue working together to tackle climate issues in 2017.” For more information on the City of Sarasota’s climate assessment, visit sarasotagreencity.com.

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