Climate Ready Estuaries Pilot Project

Climate Ready Estuaries Pilot Project

Habitat Restoration

SFEP, in partnership with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) has been collaborating with EPA’s Office of Research and Development on an ecological vulnerability assessment under EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries (CRE) Program. Click here to download the full project pdf.

The goal is to provide place-based information on the potential implications of climate change for estuarine ecosystems and processes, in a form that will enable managers to undertake adaptation planning.

Work to date has included:
  1. Selection of salt marshes and mudflats in the North Bay (San Pablo Bay) of the San Francisco Estuary as priority ecosystems for SFEP/BCDC climate change adaptation planning
  2. Identification of two key ecosystem processes essential to adaptation planning for salt marshes (sediment retention and community interactions); and
  3. Development of a general conceptual model for salt marshes as well as conceptual models of each ecosystem process. The conceptual models were developed in the early stages of this project to assist in characterizing key ecosystem processes, including linkages among the processes, climate drivers, and interacting human stressors.


The next phase of work will be to assess – using the conceptual models as background – the relative effects of climate-stressor interactions on important salt marsh and mudflat ecosystem processes, with an eye toward adaptation management implications. The processes of focus within salt marshes will be sediment retention (as it relates to the ability of salt marshes to accrete and migrate inland as seas rise) and mudflat community interactions (with a focus on the relationships among three species of shorebirds (Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper) and their predators and prey).

This assessment will be carried out in a March 16 and March 17 2010 Invitee workshop designed to:

  • Improve understanding of the sensitivity of salt marsh processes across a range of plausible scenarios of climate change.
  • Improve ability to identify indicators and adaptation management strategies that track and build resilience to the potential impacts of climate change in salt marsh and mudflat systems, given the uncertainties.


Climate Ready Estuary Project Workshop
SFEP and BCDC hosted a day-long workshop to launch the EPA’s Climate Ready Estuary Project on October 9, 2008. Scientists from around the region presented findings reflecting the current, best understanding of the potential impacts from climate change on the San Francisco Bay Estuary. The lectures highlighted the importance of how likely changes in the sediment and hydrological regimes will impact the Bay, including its wetlands and mudflats as well as key species of fish and birds. Links to the presentations are provided below.