Climate Change and...

Annotated Bibliography

Effects of Climate Change

Estuaries

Knowles, N., D. Cayan (2002). Potential effects of global warming on the Sacramento/San Joaquin watershed and the San Francisco estuary. Geophysical Research Letters 29 (18): 1891, doi:10.1029/2001GL014339

ABSTRACT: California's primary hydrologic system, the San Francisco estuary and its upstream watershed, is vulnerable to the regional hydrologic consequences of projected global climate change. Projected temperature anomalies from a global climate model are used to drive a combined model of watershed hydrology and estuarine dynamics. By 2090, a projected temperature increase of 2.1°C results in a loss of about half of the average April snowpack storage, with greatest losses in the northern headwaters. Consequently, spring runoff is reduced by 5.6 km3 (~20% of historical annual runoff), with associated increases in winter flood peaks. The smaller spring flows yield spring/summer salinity increases of up to 9 psu, with larger increases in wet years.

D. Scavia, J. C. Field, D. F. Boesch, R. W. Buddemeier, V. Burkett, D. R. Cayan, M.Fogarty, M. A. Harwell, R. W. Howarth, C. Mason, D. J. Reed, T. C. Royer, A. H. Sallenger, J. G. Titus (2002). Climate change impacts on U.S. coastal and marine ecosystems. Estuaries and Coasts 25 (2): 149-164

ABSTRACT: Increases in concentrations of greenhouse gases projected for the 21st century are expected to lead to increased mean global air and ocean temperatures. The National Assessment of Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change (NAST 2001) was based on a series of regional and sector assessments. This paper is a summary of the coastal and marine resources sector review of potential impacts on shorelines, estuaries, coastal wetlands, coral reefs, and ocean margin ecosystems. The assessment considered the impacts of several key drivers of climate change: sea level change; alterations in precipitation patterns and subsequent delivery of freshwater, nutrients, and sediment; increased ocean temperature; alterations in circulation patterns; changes in frequency and intensity of coastal storms; and increased levels of atmospheric CO2 . Increasing rates of sea-level rise and intensity and frequency of coastal storms and hurricanes over the next decades will increase threats to shorelines, wetlands, and coastal development. Estuarine productivity will change in response to alteration in the timing and amount of freshwater, nutrients, and sediment delivery. Higher water temperatures and changes in freshwater delivery will alter estuarine stratification, residence time, and eutrophication. Increased ocean temperatures are expected to increase coral bleaching and higher CO2 levels may reduce coral calcification, making it more difficult for corals to recover from other disturbances, and inhibiting poleward shifts. Ocean warming is expected to cause poleward shifts in the ranges of many other organisms, including commercial species, and these shifts may have secondary effects on their predators and prey. Although these potential impacts of climate change and variability will vary from system to system, it is important to recognize that they will be superimposed upon, and in many cases intensify, other ecosystem stresses (pollution, harvesting, habitat destruction, invasive species, land and resource use, extreme natural events), which may lead to more significant consequences.

R. Najjar, L. Patterson, S. Graham (2009). Climate simulations of major estuarine watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. Climatic Change 95 (1-2): 139-168

ABSTRACT: To better understand the implications of anthropogenic climate change for three major Mid-Atlantic estuaries (the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware Bay, and the Hudson River Estuary), we analyzed the regional output of seven global climate models. The simulation given by the average of the models was generally superior to individual models, which differed dramatically in their ability to simulate twentieth-century climate. The model average had little bias in its mean temperature and precipitation and, except in the Lower Chesapeake Watershed, was able to capture the twentieth-century temperature trend. Weaknesses in the model average were too much seasonality in temperature and precipitation, a shift in precipitation’s summer maximum to spring and winter minimum to fall, interannual variability that was too high in temperature and too low in precipitation, and inability to capture the twentieth-century precipitation increase. There is some evidence that model deficiencies are related to land surface parameterizations. All models warmed over the twenty-first century under the six greenhouse gas scenarios considered, with an increase of 4.7 ± 2.0°C (model mean ± 1 standard deviation) for the A2 scenario (a medium-high emission scenario) over the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by 2070–2099. Precipitation projections had much weaker consensus, with a corresponding increase of 3 ± 12% for the A2 scenario, but in winter there was a more consistent increase of 8 ± 7%. The projected climate averaged over the four best-performing models was significantly cooler and wetter than the projected seven-model-average climate. Precipitation projections were within the range of interannual variability but temperature projections were not. The implied research needs are for improvements in precipitation projections and a better understanding of the impacts of warming on streamflow and estuarine ecology and biogeochemistry.

W. K. Michener, E. R. Blood, K. L. Bildstein, M. M. Brinson, L. R. Gardner (1997). Climate change, hurricanes and tropical storms, and rising sea level in coastal wetlands. Ecologcial Applications 7 (3): 770-801

ABSTRACT: Global climate change is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns, oceanic and atmospheric circulation, rate of rising sea level, and the frequency, intensity, timing, and distribution of hurricanes and tropical storms. The magnitude of these projected physical changes and their subsequent impacts on coastal wetlands will vary regionally. Coastal wetlands in the southeastern United States have naturally evolved under a regime of rising sea level and specific patterns of hurricane frequency, intensity, and timing. A review of known ecological effects of tropical storms and hurricanes indicates that storm timing, frequency, and intensity can alter coastal wetland hydrology, geomorphology, biotic structure, energetics, and nutrient cycling. Research conducted to examine the impacts of Hurricane Hugo on colonial waterbirds highlights the importance of long-term studies for identifying complex interactions that may otherwise be dismissed as stochastic processes.

Rising sea level and even modest changes in the frequency, intensity, timing, and distribution of tropical storms and hurricanes are expected to have substantial impacts on coastal wetland patterns and processes. Persistence of coastal wetlands will be determined by the interactions of climate and anthropogenic effects, especially how humans respond to rising sea level and how further human encroachment on coastal wetlands affects resource exploitation, pollution, and water use. Long-term changes in the frequency, intensity, timing, and distribution of hurricanes and tropical storms will likely affect biotic functions (e.g., community structure, natural selection, extinction rates, and biodiversity) as well as underlying processes such as nutrient cycling and primary and secondary productivity.

Reliable predictions of global-change impacts on coastal wetlands will require better understanding of the linkages among terrestrial, aquatic, wetland, atmospheric, oceanic, and human components. Developing this comprehensive understanding of the ecological ramifications of global change will necessitate close coordination among scientists from multiple disciplines and a balanced mixture of appropriate scientific approaches. For example, insights may be gained through the careful design and implementation of broad-scale comparative studies that incorporate salient patterns and processes, including treatment of anthropogenic influences. Well-designed, broad-scale comparative studies could serve as the scientific framework for developing relevant and focused long-term ecological research, monitoring programs, experiments, and modeling studies. Two conceptual models of broad-scale comparative research for assessing ecological responses to climate change are presented: utilizing space-for-time substitution coupled with long-term studies to assess impacts of rising sea level and disturbance on coastal wetlands, and utilizing the moisture-continuum model for assessing the effects of global change and associated shifts in moisture regimes on wetland ecosystems. Increased understanding of climate change will require concerted scientific efforts aimed at facilitating interdisciplinary research, enhancing data and information management, and developing new funding strategies.

T. Simas, J. P. Nunes, J. G. Ferreira (2001). Effects of global climate change on coastal salt marshes. Ecological Modelling 139 (1): 1-15

ABSTRACT: A methodology combining ecological modelling with geographical information analysis and remote sensing was employed to determine the effects of sea-level rise in estuarine salt marshes, using the Tagus estuary (Portugal) as a case study. The development of salt marsh vegetation was simulated separately for C3 and C4 plants, using a combined biogeochemical and demographic model. This simulation, which provided small-scale (m2 ) results of annual above-ground primary production, was upscaled to the whole salt marsh area, using bathymetry data, remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) for assessing vegetation cover and determining areal distribution of C3 and C4 vegetation. Based on IPCC data, several sea-level rise scenarios were considered, and the coupled ecological model-GIS were applied to these in order to determine changes in global salt marsh productivity. The results indicate that the salt marshes of the mesotidal estuaries such as the Tagus are susceptible to sea-level rise only in a worst case scenario, which is more likely to occur if the terms set out by the Kyoto protocol are not met by several industrialised nations. The low vulnerability of salt marshes supports the suggestion that areas with high tidal ranges are less vulnerable to sea level change, due to greater sediment transport and accretion. Nevertheless, the precautionary principle should always be applied by coastal planners, due to the great uncertainty surrounding forecasts of sea-level rise.

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