Vulnerability Assessments of the Effects of Climate Change on Coastal Ecosystems of the Northeast United States

Environmental Protection Agency, Ocean and Coastal Protection Division (as subcontractor to Battelle Memorial Institute)


  • Focused on the potential effects of Climate Change on Coastal Habitats from Long Island Sound to Coast of Maine.
  • Primary Emphasis was on the vulnerability of coastal habitats to Sea Level Rise, Ocean Warming, and Increased Storminess.


Avatar conducted multiple Vulnerability Assessments of the effects of projected climate change on the ecological resources (habitat, fish, wildlife, & vegetation) of major estuaries and coastal areas from southern Maine to Long Island Sound. Vulnerability assessments were prepared for seven coastal areas including Casco Bay, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay and environs, Buzzards Bay MA, Narragansett Bay RI, and Long Island Sound (CT & NY). Habitats evaluated for each of these areas included 1) ocean beach and dune, 2) Coastal wetlands, 3) Submerged aquatic vegetation, 4) Oyster reefs, 5) Rocky shorelines, 6) Shallow bays and bay islands, 7) Maritime forests, and 8) Floodplains and Riparian habitat).Vulnerability Assessment ranked the severity of risk for these habitats and fish, wildlife, & vegetation to several stressors for years 2050 and 2100. The three primary stressors included Sea Level Rise, Ocean Warming, and Increased Storminess. Based on the estimated severity of the risk, Avatar identified and presented Adaptation Options. Follow-up consultations with regional and local experts to discuss our findings are planned.