COASTAL CLIMATE ADAPTATION: Ecological and Socioeconomic effects of Climate Change in Dare, Hyde, and Tyrrell Counties
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Climate change threatens the ecological and socioeconomic sustainability of Dare, Hyde, and Tyrrell counties as they are the three lowest-lying counties in all of North Carolina, making them particularly vulnerable to sea level rise (SLR) and changes in storm intensity and frequency. The objectives of this study are to : (1) summarize the socioeconomic importance of these three counties, including an evaluation of ecosystem services provided by coastal and marine environments; (2) project the potential biophysical impacts climate change may have in the future; and (3) conclude with an evaluation of the current climate adaptation policies and strategies, including land-use plans and shoreline stabilization, that the North Carolina state government, local county governments, and nonprofits are implementing. The research demonstrates that the local economies in these counties are driven by agriculture, commercial fisheries, and tourism, with ecosystem services providing valuable resources to both local and state populations. The consequences of climate change in the region are vast and unpredictable meaning effective climate adaptation strategies must be developed now before the implications of climate change become a reality. Current climate adaptation policies provide only short-term solutions to a long-term problem. It is recommended that communities weigh the economic, social, and cultural costs of armoring the shoreline versus retreating further inland. Conservation organizations should focus their efforts inland in order to acquire conservation easements anticipating where the coastline will be in 100 years.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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