38 - fact sheet

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Linking sea level rise, biodiversity and the economy in the Caribbean
Among the regions most at risk from climate change are low-lying island states, particularly coastal regions that harbour mangroves, coral reefs and sandy beaches. Changes such as sea level rise and increased severe tropical storms are likely to have wide impacts on fragile and important coastal ecosystems and the related economies. Professor Andrew Watkinson, from the Tyndall Centre and the University of East Anglia's Schools of Environmental and Biological Sciences, is leading a research team simulating the potential impacts of climate change and sea level rise on the coastal system of small islands, and subsequent impacts on landscape, biodiversity and industries in these areas. The techniques developed for examining coastal processes in the East Anglian coastal simulator project will be explored in the context of small island states. Comparing the UK and Caribbean examples will ensure the structure of the model is flexible enough to be applied to any coastal region. The coastal zones of Caribbean islands are important ecological areas in addition to being critical in supporting local tourism and fishing industries. The researchers will obtain information on coastal development and beach alteration from existing measurements, photos and satellite data to establish trends in beach loss, and will then apply sea level scenarios to predict future changes. They will review studies of the impacts of extreme weather events on coral reefs and mangroves to identify their recovery times and the species most at risk. The researchers will also survey tourist industries to assess the potential economic consequences of climate change on tourism. The results will help understand the impacts of climate change on coasts - specifically of small island states - and allow exploration of potential policy options. The information and methods for examining likely climate impacts will be made available to decision-makers for incorporation into planning strategies that conserve island ecosystems.

A coastal simulator developed for East Anglia is being adapted for examination of climate change impacts in the Caribbean which, like East Anglia, has tourism as an important economic activity. © CSIRO More information Contact the lead investigator of Project IT1.38 (Linking sea level rise, coastal biodiversity and economic activity in Caribbean island states: a pilot study): Professor Andrew Watkinson Schools of Environmental and Biological Sciences University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK Phone: +44 (0) 1603 59 2267; Fax: +44 (0) 1603 50 7719 Email: Other researchers involved in this project are: Professor Bill Sutherland and Dr Isabelle Côté, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia. Dr Andy Jones and Dr Rob Tinch, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia. Project duration: October 2001 to June 2003 Useful web sites: The Tyndall Centre: Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (CEEC): Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change: World Conservation Monitoring Centre:

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