Climate Change

Learn about Climate Change in Florida

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: What Climate Change Means for Florida (2016)
Florida Oceans and Coastal Council: Climate Change and Sea Level Rise in Florida (2010)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Key Messages for Florida (2017)
National Climate Assessment: Climate Change Impacts in the Southeast and Carribbean (2014)

Sarasota Bay: A Climate-Ready EstuaryClimate Ready Estuaries Logo

SBEP receives funding from the Climate Ready Estuaries (CRE) program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to support local planning for climate change. The CRE program supports National Estuary Programs and coastal communities by providing special tools and assistance to assess climate change vulnerabilities, engage and educate community stakeholders, develop and implement adaptation strategies, and share lessons learned with other coastal resource managers.

SBEP projects supported with CRE funding are listed below.

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (2016)

In 2016, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program received funding to conduct a risk-based assessment of its Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). The goal of the assessment is to identify goals within the CCMP that may be vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, changing air and water temperatures, and changes in precipitation patterns.

In November 2016, the SBEP held a joint meeting with the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida to gain stakeholder input on the potential sensitivities of CCMP goals to climate change impacts. The 55 meeting attendees identified over 120 potential vulnerabilities in six CCMP goals spanning the SBEP mission to restore and protect Sarasota Bay. Input from this meeting will be incorporated into the climate vulnerability assessment, which is slated for completion in fall 2017. Read the meeting report here.

Sea Level Rise: Tips for Adaptation Planning Brochure

In collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory, the SBEP produced a brochure containing information and resources for local adaptation planning. The information in the brochure draws from local, regional, and national examples to lay the groundwork for conversations about sea level rise scenarios and adaptation strategies. The brochure was updated in 2017 to reflect current projections for regional sea level rise scenarios.

King Tides Photo Contests

Sarasota Bay has extremely high, or "king," tides twice per year. King tides occur when the moon and sun align on one side of the Earth and their gravitational forces combine to create higher tides than normal. While these tides are natural occurrences, they provide local communities with a sneak peek of what the landscape may look like in future decades with sea level rise. See photos from around the Florida Gulf Coast.

Stults At High Tide
Photo Credit: Larry Stults

Sea Level Rise Web Viewer (2010)

Planning for changes to shorelines and the larger impact on the community will become increasingly important in the decades ahead. To support future planning, SBEP created a Sea Level Rise web map tool that shows various scenarios based on different levels of water due to sea level increases and surges of water from occasional storms.

This pilot project is a collaborative effort of SBEP and Mote Marine Laboratory, with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Ready Estuaries Program. The areas shaded in blue show lands vulnerable to sea-level rise along the Sarasota Bay Estuary. The visualization tool shows an approximation of potential flooding in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, but not exact locations.

The analysis is based on the mean higher high water level obtained from LiDAR elevation imagery. The LiDAR data has a vertical accuracy of 0.60 feet (at a 95% confidence interval). The LiDAR data does not cover depth of water columns. All cells in the DEM grid below sea-level rise thresholds were designated as inundated regardless of hydrologic connectivity. The water levels shown are the flooding above the mean high tide level, but do not take into account the possibility of erosion, land subsidence, sediment accretion, or future construction. To display the potential flooding in the event of a hurricane driven storm surge, the map also illustrates (in shades of magenta) the extent of a Hurricane Charley-level storm surge for each sea level increase.

Get more information about the data.

Sea-level rise inundation data displayed in the map viewer were developed by Kate Doiron, GIS Specialist, at Industrial Economics, Inc. in Cambridge, MA.

The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is dedicated to restoring the area's greatest natural asset - Sarasota Bay. We offer special thanks to our partners: Sarasota County, Manatee County, City of Sarasota, City of Bradenton, Town of Longboat Key, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Southwest Florida Water Management District.