A Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH)
Climate change will significantly affect the coastal zone through changes to sea levels, storm severity and frequency, erosion and sediment supply, invasive species, freshwater inflows, and water quality, potentially causing the degradation or loss of habitats that perform critical ecosystem services for coastal communities.Coastal land managers need methods to identify habitats that are likely to be adversely affected by climate change in order to make informed decisions about habitat management actions and restoration projects. Climate change vulnerability assessments can support decisionmaking by providing managers with methods of identifying which habitats are likely to be most affected by projected changes in climate as well as insight as to why these habitats are likely to be vulnerable.
Several tools have been developed to guide decision-makers through the process of assessing vulnerability, but currently available tools either are not designed to be used for coastal systems (e.g., they do not include the effects of sea level rise) or are species oriented rather than examining vulnerabilities at a habitat scale. Recognizing the need for a tool to assess the vulnerability of coastal habitats to climate change, several members of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System formed a workgroup in the fall of 2011 to develop the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH), which allows for quantitative assessment of the relative vulnerabilities of habitats to predicted climate change stressors.
Components of Vulnerability
The CCVATCH combines the elements of sensitivity, exposure and adaptive capacity consistent with nationally accepted guidance documents for assessing vulnerability to climate change.