The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 28 reserves that serve as “living laboratories” around the U.S. representing unique biogeographically diverse coastal ecosystems. Established under the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves are jointly managed by NOAA and the coastal states and territories for long-term research, ecosystems monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship.
The Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve in California is one of four estuaries that experiences a high level of climate sensitivity, according to a new NOAA study.
The nation's 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR) are experiencing the negative effects of human and climate-related stressors, according to new NOAA research.
The national study, Climate Sensitivity of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, points to three East Coast reserves (Sapelo Island NERR in Georgia, ACE Basin NERR in South Carolina and Waquoit Bay NERR in Massachusetts) and the Tijuana River NERR on the California-Mexico border as the most sensitive to climate change.
Estuaries are places where rivers meet the sea, providing nursery habitat for fish and shellfish while buffering many coastal communities from the impacts of coastal storms and sea level rise. The climate exposure of each reserve provides 'first alarm' indicators about the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems. Ongoing research at each of the reserves provides real-time data about how climate change impacts these important natural resources.
Researchers determined the extent of relative climate sensitivity in the reserves by looking at five factors: social, biophysical, and ecological sensitivity, and exposure to temperature change and sea level rise.
The study, funded by NOAA’s Climate Program Office, was conducted by a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of investigators from the University of Wisconsin, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management working with staff across the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.