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Updated 11 October, 2003

US National Assessment of
the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Region: South Atlantic Coast & Caribbean



For additional information, see the Islands and  Southeast Mega-Regions

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Workshop Report:

  • Alvarez, Ricardo A., Proceedings of the Climate Change and  Extreme Events Workshop for the U.S. South Atlantic Coastal and Caribbean  Region (North Miami, Florida : International Hurricane Center, 1998). Workshop held 21-23 July 1998 in North Miami, Florida

Alvarez, Ricardo A. and Stephen P Leatherman, The Need For Action To Confront Potential  Consequences Of Global Climate Change On A Regional Basis (North Miami, Florida:   International Hurricane Center, 1998). White Paper in support of Climate Change and Extreme Events Workshop held 21-23 July 1998 in North Miami, Florida.

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

Links to other Relevant Material

The Workshop

The International Hurricane Center at Florida International University hosted the Climate Change and Extreme Events workshop, July 21-23, 1998. This workshop was part of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. This series of workshops was seen as an important step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change.

Few regions have the combination of special characteristics found in the coastal areas and in the islands. The interaction of critical issues, such as sea level rise, storms, beach erosion, salt water intrusion, urban development and demographics on the transition zone where land meets ocean, creates conditions for potential adverse climate change effects on the largest segments of the population in this region.

The consensus among the workshop's ninety-seven registered participants and guests included: a) recognition of the importance of climate change as a global issue; b) appreciation for the effort of bringing together regional public and private sector stakeholders to engage in a productive dialog; and c) eagerness to participate in the regional assessment and to continue to be involved in the National Assessment. Much knowledge and information were exchanged during the workshop and new questions arose as answers to old ones were provided.

Issues for Analysis

The coastal region and islands possess special characteristics. These include: a high and still increasing rate of urbanization, high population density, distinctive demographics, conflicting human and ecological requirements, in addition to processes driven by storms and sea level rise such as beach erosion, salt water intrusion, ecosystem redistribution or retreat, among others. Learning how all of these respond to climate change impacts is paramount to this region. The proposed assessment would consider a number of the key issues that are critical to the South Atlantic Coast - Caribbean. The key issues include: Water Resources, Human Health, Coastal Impacts, Tourism, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Wildlife, and Urban Areas.

Strategy for the Assessment

The proposed assessment for this region would focus on an iterative, "learn by doing" approach in research. This includes an emphasis on education as a tool for converting research findings into practical knowledge to cope with and/or mitigate the effects of climate change. The strategy also attempts to describe and include:

  1. the state of the science on climate change and variability;
  2. modeling and research capabilities;
  3. insight on important stresses;
  4. extensive front line experience with extreme events/natural hazards in coastal regions and islands;
  5. experience gained through the development of educational programs in related areas; and
  6. recommendations for action.

The assessment effort would draw on the region's rich cumulative experience in vulnerability analysis, hazard assessment, hazard mitigation, emergency management, and on lessons learned during the response and recovery phases of several disasters. All of these aspects would support the inclusion of empirical knowledge in the socio-economic aspects of climate scenarios for the region. There are no specific plans for a National Assessment effort for this region at this time.

Workshop Steering Committee 

  • Margaret Davidson, Director, NOAA Coastal Services Center
  • J. Michael Hall, Director, NOAA Office of Global Programs
  • Christopher Landsea, AOML Hurricane Research Division
  • Stephen P. Leatherman, Director and Professor, International Hurricane Center
  • Roger Pulwarty, NOAA Office of Global Programs
  • Harold Wanless, Professor, Dept. of Geological Sciences, U. of Miami
  • Ricardo A. Alvarez, Deputy Director, International Hurricane Center
Principal Investigators Ricardo Alvarez, International Hurricane Center, Florida International University

Stephen Leatherman, International Hurricane Center, Florida International University

Workshop Coordinating Federal Agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Global Programs (OGP)
Agency Representative Caitlin Simpson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Key Issues
  • Water Resources
  • Human Health
  • Coastal Impacts
  • Tourism
  • Agriculture (limited to coastal South Florida)
  • Ecosystems and Wildlife
  • Urban Areas

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