Environmental Management

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 857–875 | Cite as

Climate Change Projected Effects on Coastal Foundation Communities of the Greater Everglades Using a 2060 Scenario: Need for a New Management Paradigm

  • M. S. KochEmail author
  • C. Coronado
  • M. W. Miller
  • D. T. Rudnick
  • E. Stabenau
  • R. B. Halley
  • F. H. Sklar


Rising sea levels and temperature will be dominant drivers of coastal Everglades’ foundation communities (i.e., mangrove forests, seagrass/macroalgae, and coral reefs) by 2060 based on a climate change scenario of +1.5 °C temperature, +1.5 foot (46 cm) in sea level, ±10 % in precipitation and 490 ppm CO2. Current mangrove forest soil elevation change in South Florida ranges from 0.9 to 2.5 mm year−1 and would have to increase twofold to fourfold in order to accommodate a 2060 sea level rise rate. No evidence is available to indicate that coastal mangroves from South Florida and the wider Caribbean can keep pace with a rapid rate of sea level rise. Thus, particles and nutrients from destabilized coastlines could be mobilized and impact benthic habitats of southern Florida. Uncertainties in regional geomorphology and coastal current changes under higher sea levels make this prediction tentative without further research. The 2060 higher temperature scenario would compromise Florida’s coral reefs that are already degraded. We suggest that a new paradigm is needed for resource management under climate change that manages coastlines for resilience to marine transgression and promotes active ecosystem management. In the case of the Everglades, greater freshwater flows could maximize mangrove peat accumulation, stabilize coastlines, and limit saltwater intrusion, while specific coral species may require propagation. Further, we suggest that regional climate drivers and oceanographic processes be incorporated into Everglades and South Florida management plans, as they are likely to impact coastal ecosystems, interior freshwater wetlands and urban coastlines over the next few decades.


Climate change Sea level rise Seagrass Mangroves Coral reefs Management 



We are appreciative of Drs. Haven, Best, Aumen and Berry, and the other members of the steering committee, and their respective institutions (United States Geological Survey, Florida Sea Grant, National Park Service, South Florida Water Management District, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University) for their efforts in organizing the “Predicting Ecological Changes in the Florida Everglades in a Future Climate Scenario—2060” workshop held at FAU in Boca Raton, Florida, February 14–15, 2013. At a follow-up workshop on management considerations (April 2014 at FAU) data needs were articulated by a coastal working group (Joan Browder, Peter Ortner, Billy Causey, Bob Glazer, Diego Lirman, Chris Kelble, Mingshun Jiang, Lynn Wingard, Marguerite Koch, Karen Johnson-Young) and incorporated into the manuscript. We appreciate Pamela Fletcher’s (Sea Grant and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) assistance on graphics and editing of Figure 1. Sponsors of the workshop are also recognized: FAU, USGS, and Florida Sea Grant. We are grateful to Lynn Wingard (USGS), Peter Ortner (RSMAS) and anonymous reviewers for their time and effort in significantly improving earlier versions of the manuscript. Mangrove SET data from southwest coast of the South Florida peninsula was kindly provided by Tom Smith (USGS).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. S. Koch
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Coronado
    • 2
  • M. W. Miller
    • 3
  • D. T. Rudnick
    • 4
  • E. Stabenau
    • 4
  • R. B. Halley
    • 5
  • F. H. Sklar
    • 2
  1. 1.Biological Sciences DepartmentFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  2. 2.Everglades Systems AssessmentSouth Florida Water Management DistrictWest Palm BeachUSA
  3. 3.Protected Resources Division, Benthic Ecosystem Assessment and ResearchNational Marine Fisheries Service, NOAAMiamiUSA
  4. 4.South Florida Natural Resources CenterEverglades National ParkHomesteadUSA
  5. 5.U.S. Geological SurveySt. PetersburgUSA

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