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Special Project: Climate Assessment and Proactive Response Initiative (CAPRI)
Puget Sound Pilot

Overview: The goal of CAPRI is to prepare for, mitigate, and adapt to climate change-related contaminant impacts in the coastal zone.

A Draft White Paper for the Climate Assessment and Proactive Response Initiative has been released. If you have comments or questions please contact

Predicted environmental changes associated with climate change will increase threats to NOAA trust resources. Contaminated soil and sediment at waste sites, chemical storage tanks, and oil storage facilities and pipelines near the coasts are vulnerable to climate change, and coastal natural resources in urban areas are already stressed by contamination. Increases in releases of hazardous waste and oil from flooding or sea level rise will result in further environmental and socioeconomic losses. Proactive response to and prevention of these future losses is an emerging priority.

There are three overlapping components of the proactive response initiative:

  • Threat Assessment
    • Apply regionalized climate change data and models
    • Map oil infrastructure, waste sites, and contaminant models
    • Identify potential impacts to sensitive habitats, species, and human uses due to contaminant releases
  • Vulnerability Index and Assessment
    • Determine values for climate change risk factors (inundation, air temperature, wetland habitat change, other factors to be added in future iterations)
    • Develop a relationship between potential impacts and climate change risk factors
    • Integrate spatially explicit risks and values into suite of vulnerability indices
  • Identification of Prevention/Response/Restoration Options
    • Evaluate methods, risks and benefits associated with various response/prevention strategies
    • Provide recommendations for further analysis

In this assessment, a series of vulnerability indices are calculated that combine climate change impacts, human uses, habitats, species, and potential waste site releases. These indices are ultimately integrated together into a combined vulnerability index for a particular geographic location. The framework for developing the vulnerability indices is outlined in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Analytical Framework

Analytical Framework
Click to enlarge image

CAPRI links contaminant sources, climate scenarios, and the vulnerability assessment in a geospatial decision-support tool platform, the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA). ERMA is a user-friendly, web-based platform, which allows for easy visualization of results in a geospatial context. This platform allows for integration and synthesis of static, as well as real-time information. ERMA will allow stakeholders and communities to visualize and prioritize increased risk of releases of hazardous waste and oil, as well as needs for habitat restoration due to climate change.

Location: Puget Sound, Washington is the focus for the CAPRI pilot, which demonstrates our approach. Puget Sound, the second largest estuary in the U.S., is a highly productive and biologically diverse ecosystem. Natural resources in the Sound support recreation, industries, and tourism. In this region, climate models predict earlier river peak flows and more severe flooding, reduced summer flows, and rising sea levels that will have ecological and economic impacts.

In the current development stage, four areas within the Sound have been selected as test sites. These sites are NOAA priority areas that support port and industrial complexes, significant natural resources, and restoration opportunities.

  • Commencement Bay
  • Lower Duwamish River
  • Nisqually Estuary/Olympia
  • Snohomish Estuary

Figure 2. Snohomish Estuary, Vulnerability Indices, 2100

Snohomish Estuary, Vulnerability Indices, 2100
Click to enlarge the entire image or select an individual map to enlarge

Audience/Benefits: Through the improved understanding of climate vulnerabilities and particular areas of concern, users will be better able to prepare for and then adapt to climate change. Results can be utilized in restoration planning, clean up decisions, and identification of areas of concern requiring further analysis. A wide range of users will potentially benefit from development of this assessment.

  • NOAA coastal managers
  • Puget Sound Partnership
  • State managers
  • Regional managers, counties, municipalities
  • Tribes
  • Ports, industry
  • Non-profits

Project Status: The pilot began in January, 2009, and the initial development phase was completed in Fall 2011. A prototype that demonstrates the proof of concept is now available. Details on our approach, and data and analytical results displayed in ERMA will be available in the near future.

» CAPRI Project Home
» Project Team Contacts
» Climate Change Resources

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