Climate change is expected to have numerous wide-reaching environmental, economic and social impacts that will play out differently depending on context. Coastal areas are likely to be disproportionately affected by temperature increases, precipitation changes, and climate-related hazards due to sea level rise and severe storms. They will experience increased rates of coastal erosion, flooding and permanent coastal inundation; coastal ecosystem loss or changes; ocean acidification and shifting marine species distributions; and loss of unique cultural and natural resources resulting in socioeconomic and emotional impacts related to the loss of valued areas and amenities, and dislocation (NRC 2010a; Adger et al. 2011, Agyeman et al. 2009; IPCC 2007). All coastal areas will likely incur significant impacts due to permanent loss of coastal areas or resources, and growing expenses related to coastal protection, but rural communities, often economically dependent on fishing industries and coastal tourism, and often lacking in institutional capacity, may be particularly vulnerable. At the same time, heavily developed urban coastal communities will face difficult decisions about land use and coastal protection.
As many coastal communities face difficult choices and trade-offs when developing new strategies to strengthen and retain their overall ecological, economic and social resilience – more research is needed in order to understand what characterizes successful adaptation planning. This project will provide decision-makers with the research and training necessary to guide adaptation processes as it examines what characterizes “successful” adaptation to climate change – in terms of both process and outcomes – in the West Coast coastal context. This project identifies key dimensions, develops guidelines and explores the use of metrics to measure effectiveness from both scientific and practitioner perspectives. PIs address the climate change issue by engaging scientists and coastal practitioners in an iterative and collaborative process including the exploration of adaptation outcomes, processes and mechanisms, and the metrics with which to measure success in coastal communities in California, Oregon and Washington. Additional methods of engagement and inquiry include focused workshops with scientists, practitioners and, ultimately, scientists and practitioners, practitioner interviews, and literature reviews.