An Adaptation Portfolio for the United States Coastal and Marine Environment

This report presents a suite of federal, state and local policy actions to enhance the resilience of human and natural systems to the effects of climate change and variability for marine and coastal environments. Strategies discussed include: investments in habitat restoration, permitting decisions under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the purchase of coastal lands, controls for reducing non-point and point source pollution upstream of intertidal estuaries, the inspection and prevention of invasive species, marine protected areas (MPAs), incentive‐based fishery management policies, and in general a better definition of rights to marine and coastal resources that creates stewardship incentives. [Note: A good discussion on legal boundaries, including private, state and federal legal rights, begins on page 35 with a helpful diagram (Figure 13).]

The authors address questions as to the applicability of such policies for particular geographic locations and the complexities that climate change brings to the spatial scale, timing, severity and uncertainty of events which may render these existing policies insufficient. The report includes a discussion on the need for an adaptation framework focusing more on a risk management approach that considers multiple variables.



This report employs the county-level social vulnerability index (SOVI) for the year 2000 and demonstrates that, overall, many of the counties that are vulnerable to a one‐meter sea level rise are not as socially vulnerable as other counties. However, this pattern does not hold true for parts of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mid‐Atlantic, as seen in maps produced for the report. The authors note that many coastal counties are economically depressed. In the southeastern U.S., for instance, counties bordering the Atlantic are less well off on average than those in the interior.

The authors also note that several indigenous communities in the U.S. that harvest marine and coastal animals and plants are likely to face challenges due to climate warming and increasing variability. These communities may rely on these resources for subsistence, recreation‐based enterprises, cultural practice, or some combination of the three. The dramatic loss of summer ice cover and the delayed onset of winter ice in the Arctic are likely to be particularly problematic for some Alaskan native communities, many of which face a difficult social and physical (dietary) transition away from partial dependence on subsistence hunting should climatic conditions render it untenable.


Publication Date: June 2009

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • David Kling
  • James N. Sanchirico

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice


Go To Resource