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Ecosystems and Climate Change Research

Researchers at EPA are providing innovative ways to help communities and resource managers adapt to the impacts of climate change on ecosystems that are occurring across the nation. They are developing the scientific information and tools that can be used by states and communities to develop strategies to protect our vulnerable ecosystems from the impacts of climate change.

Many factors affect the ecosystems in which we live, work, and play, including land use, application of fertilizers and population growth. Ecosystems are further impacted by the changing climate that is resulting in extreme air and water temperatures and changes in the amount and type of precipitation.

We rely on the natural environment to provide us with food, clean water, and a multitude of natural resources. Understanding how climate change is affecting these resources now and how they may affect them in the future is an important part of EPA’s research.

Researchers are working to:

  • Assess the likelihood and effects of extreme events on ecosystems
  • Develop ways to assess risk to near-coastal species and habitats
  • Understand the vulnerability of wetlands and water quality to changes in the amount and timing of water flow
  • Develop models and maps to evaluate the effects of climate change on water availability and water quality at basin and regional scales
  • Improve models that help us understand the direct and indirect impacts of sea level rise on coastal wetlands

Research is focused on developing new approaches to prepare for, reduce, or adapt to climate change impacts on ecosystems. Preparation includes developing scenarios of plausible future conditions that can then be used to evaluate alternative responses. The results can be used to support decision making by states and communities in the face of a changing environment.

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