The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their 4th Assessment Report note that evidence of climate change is unequivocal, based on observations of increased global air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and globally rising sea levels. In Connecticut, a southern New England state bordered by Long Island Sound, climate change will translate into higher average air and sea temperatures, increased winter precipitation with more rain and less snow, less summer rainfall and a greater frequency of short-term droughts. Projected increases in sea level associated with a warming global climate will lead to coastal inundation, causing greater flooding, erosion, and impacts from storm surges. These changes in the regional climate and sea level will negatively impact both human and natural systems.
Coastal areas will be especially hard hit with flooding and storms potentially degrading wetlands that now provide buffers to human communities, generating more property damage. Rising water temperatures in Long Island Sound are already impairing fish and shellfish stocks, such as the lobster, and sea water acidification associated with rising CO2 concentrations may yield additional deleterious impacts for marine species. In 2005, the State of Connecticut developed a mitigation strategy, the Connecticut Climate Change Action plan, focused on decreasing the state’s green house gas emissions and has created a series of working groups to develop climate change adaptation strategies.
How is Connecticut Sea Grant addressing climate change?
Connecticut Sea Grant is addressing the multi-faceted challenge of climate change through existing program initiatives. Climate change serves as an overarching area of emphasis, informing outreach and education activities. Strategies to determine climate change impacts and to adapt successfully have been developed.
The Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change Program in Long Island Sound is a multi-disciplinary scientific approach to provide early warning of climate change impacts to Long Island Sound ecosystems and species to facilitate appropriate and timely management decisions and adaptation responses. These warnings will be based on assessments of climate related changes to a list of significant climate change sentinels. The goal of this strategy is for sentinel data to provide scientists and managers with the information necessary to prioritize climate change impacts and determine appropriate adaptation strategies. Find out more and download strategy HERE.
Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) are partnering with researchers, consultants and other professionals to work with municipalities and relevant professionals on climate resiliency through the Climate Adaptation Academy (CAA).
CTSG expands capacity for working on resilience, sustainability
In November 2021, two new positions were created at Connecticut Sea Grant as part of an exciting new initiative funded by the EPA through the Long Island Sound Study to increase the capacity to serve communities dealing with resilience challenges.
The positions for sustainable and resilient community extension educators were created to focus on issues such as increased flooding of roads and bridges, wetland loss, erosion and other effects of climate change, and to work with three colleagues based at New York Sea Grant under a five-year work plan developed by the two Sea Grant programs.
Deb Abibou focuses on Western Connecticut and is based at the New Haven County Extension Center in North Haven. The position for Eastern Connecticut, based at the UConn Avery Point campus in Groton, is currently vacant but is expected to be filled in the coming months. Learn more about resources, projects and contact information here.
Article addresses climate change and land use management issues
"Coastal Land Use Management Methodologies under Pressure from Climate Change and Population Growth" an article published in the August 2022 issue of the journal Environmental Management, examines coastal changes in four Connecticut locations: one each in New Haven and Waterford, and two in New London, as examples of different strategies to cope with a changing shoreline and the challenges of climate change.
Written by Juliana Barrett of Connecticut Sea Grant and the UConn Department of Extension - College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, and Tao Wu of Nanjing Agricultural University in China and the UConn Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, the article finds that a resilient management process must incorporate a cycle of learning, experimenting, and creating with the goal of developing new solutions that are able to deal with our ever-changing environment. The article can be accessed here.
Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation: Six Legal Fact Sheets
A number of questions were raised at Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation, a conference held by UConn CLEAR's and Connecticut Sea Grant's Climate Adaptation Academy in late 2015. The Marine Affairs Institute & RI Sea Grant Legal Program at Roger Williams University School of Law reviewed the questions, which came from the audience during the course of the conference. The Legal Program then developed six fact sheets addressing the following topics:
Flooding, Eminent Domain and Government Authority: FloodingEminentDomain
Responding to Nuisance Flooding of Coastal Highways: Options for Municipalities: CoastalHighwaysFS5.pdf
Takings and Coastal Management: TakingsCoastalManagmentFS1.pdf
Property and Permitting Boundaries on the Shoreline: BeachNourishmentPropertyLinesFS2.pdf
Government Tort Liability Disclosure of Flood Hazard Information:GovernmentLiabilityFS3.pdf
Flood and Erosion Control Structures: FloodErosionControlFS4.pdf
Cost-Efficient Climate Adaptation in the North Atlantic
This 2013 study was undertaken to raise awareness of the best practices in leading North Atlantic communities. We hope that the results will inspire discussion and action in communities that are now considering how to better protect themselves. This project was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration North Atlantic Regional Team and Sea Grant.
For More Information
View our climate change publications.
Climate Change Resources
Bathtub Dynamics and Climate Change: The MIT System Dynamics Group has developed a tool to explore greenhouse gas emissions relative to climate change.
Connecticut Coastal Hazards: A centralized source of information for municipal officials, coastal property owners, state coastal managers, and the general public on coastal hazards in Connecticut.
CTEco Environmental Conditions Online: A Connecticut-specific site with maps and visualization tools
Climate.gov Web Site: This is a NOAA site with the latest global information.