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Updated 11 October, 2003

US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Region: Gulf Coast



For additional information, see the Southeast Mega-Region


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Links to Material from the Gulf Coast Assessment Group:

Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.

Links to other Relevant Material

The Workshop

A workshop was held on February 25-27, 1998, organized by Southern University and A&M College, an 1890 land grant university, in collaboration with the Science and Engineering Alliance, a partnership of four Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As one of the OSTP/USGCRP regional climate change workshops, the Gulf Coast workshop brought together a diverse group of participants, including underrepresented groups, scientists, industry representatives, state, regional, and national experts, and policy makers. The workshop focused on six key sectors/issues:

  • Wetland, Wildlife Habitat, and Estuaries;
  • Farming and Forestry;
  • Commerce, Industry, and Energy;
  • Health, Water and Air Quality;
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture; and
  • Recreation, Tourism, and Coastal Community Life.

The workshop report includes the following topics:

  • Identification of current stresses or issues concerning the region;
  • Examination of how greater climate variability and climate change interact with the current stresses;
  • Discussion of the kinds of information needed to understand and respond to these changes;
  • Finding coping mechanisms and strategies that will be most effective in reducing vulnerability and/or enhancing capabilities to adapt to or mitigate the consequences of those changes; and
  • Providing suggestions for national-scale research activities that will contribute to regional information needs.

Issues for Analysis

The follow-up assessment focuses on three key sectors and issues that are critical in the Gulf Coast region.

Sector I. Coastal Ecosystem: the key issues include sea level rise, hypoxia, salt water intrusion, water/hydrology, and wetland.
Sector II. Bottomland Forests and Urban Forests: the key issues include forest ecological processes, health and species distribution, habitat, and urban forests.
Sector III. Minority Environmental Justice: the key issues include minority perceptions of climate change, climate change impact on small farms and limited resource minority farmers, and consequences of climate change and environmental in-justice issues for minority communities.

Strategy for the Assessment

Teams comprised of experts and the spectrum of stakeholder communities perform analyses through ten case studies related to the key issues. The case studies are

  1. Impact of sea level rise on coastal landscape,
  2. Climate change impacts on low oxygen zones and its effects on fisheries,
  3. Assessing the potential climate change impacts on salinity in northern Gulf of Mexico estuaries,
  4. Hydrologic implications of first and second order climate change,
  5. Wetland soil stability with accelerated sea level rise rates,
  6. Climate change and ecological processes of the forests,
  7. Climate change impacts on the health and distribution of mangrove communities,
  8. Predicting the effects of sea-level rise on coastal vegetation habitat,
  9. Urban forests and carbon dioxide sequestration, and
  10. Soil organic matter in coastal urban forest island soil: effects of climate and water balance.

Common climate and socioeconomic scenarios are used to derive information for each of two sectors, to test out sensitivities, and to develop information that can be effectively synthesized. The regional assessment focuses on two time periods. A review of past (1895-1993) climate change and its impacts is based on an extensive literature review. Projections of future (2030 and 2100) climate change and its impacts are assessed by running climate change models with specific sets of sectoral scenarios and variables. The preliminary results of the assessment were incorporated in the National Assessment Synthesis report (see Overview & Foundation). The final results will be published in a regional report, a compendium, and journals. Outreach and stakeholder involvement is also a fundamental part of the assessment. The Assessment report is expected during 2002.

Principal Investigator Zhu Hua Ning, Southern University
Co-Principal Investigator Kamran Abdollahi, Southern University
Coordinating Federal Agency U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Agency Representative Susan Herrod-Julius, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Key Sectors/Issues
  • Coastal Ecosystems
  • Bottomland Forests and Urban Forests
  • Minority Environmental Justice

Assessment Team

Sector I. Coastal Ecosystems:
  • Drs. E Turner, D. Justic', E. Reyes, and E. Swenson, Coastal Ecology Institute, LSU, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Dr. Virginia Burkett and Thomas Doyle, USGS National Wetland Research Center, Lafayette, LA;
  • Dr. James Mitchell, Institute of Environmental Studies, LSU, Baton Rouge, LA
Sector II. Bottomland Forests and Urban Forests:
  • Drs. Z. H. Ning and K. K. Abdollahi, Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Dr. James Chamber, Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, LA;
  • Dr. G. F. Shao at Purdue University, West Lafayette, ID
  • Dr. Thomas Doyle, USGS National Wetland Research Center, Lafayette, LA;
  • Drs. Jay Grymes and Robert Muller, Southern Regional Climate Center, LSU, Baton Rouge, LA

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