Climate Change

Changes in climate and an increase in extreme events can alter coastal ecosystems and the services those ecosystems provide to support our coastal communities and economy. NCCOS’s research efforts seek to understand the ecosystem services that improve a community’s resistance to the impacts of weather and changing climate conditions. NCCOS provides timely and actionable scientific assessments, information, and tools that coastal communities use to make risk management decisions.

Areas of Focus

Resilience in a Changing Climate

Coastal storms, flooding, and rising seas pose a persistent threat to coastal communities. In 2016, the U.S. experienced 15 weather and climate disasters, each with losses exceeding $1 billion. Businesses can suffer loss of production, or the inability to reopen. People can lose their lives, homes, businesses, and property and the social fabric that knits the community can be torn asunder. Resilience is the ability of a community to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and—more successfully—adapt to adverse events.

Restoration and Resilience

Coastal ecosystems are vulnerable to habitat loss from environmental stressors, such as sea level rise, human uses such as boat groundings, and other causes that result in declining water quality. Habitat restoration offers a way to regain ecosystem services lost as a result of acute or chronic injuries. NCCOS develops tools and evaluates methods to guide restoration of impacted habitats. This includes research to improve the scientific framework for natural resource damage assessment and restoration, and developing sound mitigation and remediation strategies.


NCCOS develops models and tools that integrate biological, hydrologic, physical, socioeconomic, and other factors to evaluate coastal resilience. We assess a community or ecosystem’s characteristics to provide a better understanding of how extreme events will impact its residents’ or natural systems’ ability to be resilient. These characteristics can help determine the vulnerability of the collective community, beyond its geographic, economic, or infrastructural vulnerabilities.

Defining Problems and Attaining Solutions for a Changing Coast

NCCOS is helping communities mitigate and adapt to climate change by conducting research on detecting and assessing change in coastal ecosystems. By observing the ecological responses of coastal habitats and species to climate change, NCCOS can help communities understand ecosystem relationships and develop indicators to evaluate progress towards long-term community resilience.

Climate Change Issues

Sea Level Rise & Inundation

Coastal Ocean Acidification

Habitat Loss and Biodiversity Changes

Tampa Bay

Water Quality and Eutrophication

Changing Temperatures

NCCOS Climate Change Solutions

Habitat Restoration

Downscaling Tools

Tampa Bay

Preparedness and Risk Models

Tampa Bay

Vulnerability Assessments

Temperature and Oxygen Tolerances of Marine Species Predict their Distributions

Coastal Hazard Indicators and Resilience Metrics

Featured Stories

From the Field