Coastal habitats’ ability to store carbon and protect natural and human communities from hazards makes them valuable assets in state and community efforts to enhance coastal resilience and support climate mitigation. The Nicholas Institute is collaborating with six eastern seaboard states (North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York) and PlanIt Forward, LLC on a U.S. Climate Alliance-funded project to prioritize coastal habitats based on their contributions to coastal protection and blue carbon storage. Spatial modeling will consider both the current status of coastal habitats and potential future changes due to sea level rise and climate change to assess habitats’ ability to store carbon long-term and protect vulnerable ecological and human communities into the future. An initial version of this analysis was conducted for North Carolina as part of the Natural and Working Lands project.
A large proportion of climate and resilience planning occurs at the local level, and many communities are already overwhelmed by the large number of planning tools. Therefore, we will identify key data and information platforms already in use for resilience and land-use planning within the partner states (e.g. North Carolina’s Green Growth Toolbox) and make our products available through these platforms. We will also conduct a community-level pilot study to incorporate local data and tailor the prioritization assessment to their interests as a demonstration of how communities can adjust data products to meet their needs for adaptation and resilience planning.
We are also replicating the coastal protection and blue carbon spatial analyses for the remaining southeastern coastal states with support from the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center.