Climate Change Impacts to Natural Resources in South Carolina

Prepared by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR), this report addresses how climate change may affect wildlife, fisheries, water supply and other natural resources in South Carolina, and identifies some key adaptive steps for DNR to respond to these impacts.

This report details natural climate change impacts on natural resources in the state, including the potential for the detrimental change in habitat, abundance and distribution of species, biodiversity and ecosystem services, traditional uses of natural resources, abundance and quality of water, and in sea level. 

This assessment includes a thorough examination of sea level rise effects on coastal habitat, marine and coastal resources, the fresh and salt water interface, and on coastal managed wetlands. The analysis of potential effects of climate change on water considers water quantity, water quality, and riverine flow. Increased temperatures are to affect temporal and spatial shifts in habitat and life histories, population and ecosystem effects, harmful algal blooms, hypoxia and dead zones, and ocean acidification. 

The potential effects related to changes in terrestrial and aquatic habitats are detailed for habitat fragmentation, loss and alteration of habitats, endangered species, invasive species, and increased incidents of pathogens. Impacts from climate change to commercial and recreational fishing and hunting and other public uses of natural resources are also discussed. 

DNR’s response and specific recommendations are provided for each of these impact areas. 

General goals identified by DNR “in order to move forward in an era of climate change while protecting natural resources” include:

  1. Spatial mapping,
  2. Monitoring and establishing living and non-living resources and climate trends,
  3. Habitat acquisition,
  4. Adaptation strategies on DNR-titled properties,
  5. Integration and analysis of data,
  6. Outreach and education,
  7. Developing additional partnerships and collaborating with others, and
  8. DNR leading by example.

Some of the impacts South Carolina faces includes a projected average temperature rise of as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 70 years, increased flooding on beaches and marshes, salt water intrusion into coastal rivers and freshwater aquifers that is likely to kill off or deplete some species of fish and potentially affect drinking-water supplies. According to the report, the state also faces the likelihood of more “dead zones” in the ocean off the coast with potentially perilous effects on the state’s population of loggerhead sea turtles.

Publication Date: 2013

Related Organizations:

  • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

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  • Assessment

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