Protecting & Restoring Long Island's Peconic Bays

Resilient Communities Prepared for Climate Change

PEP will lead scientifically informed, proactive efforts by local communities that can reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

The influence of climate change on the Peconic Estuary and its surrounding communities will grow profoundly far into the future. Scientifically informed, proactive efforts can reduce the negative impacts.

Projected changes in precipitation patterns, particularly increases in extreme rain events, will likely cause greater runoff of nutrients and other pollutants from land into the Estuary and may also increase atmospheric deposition of pollutants. Rising sea levels are expected to result in increasingly frequent inundation of drinking water wells and septic systems on coastal properties, leading to more nitrogen and pathogens entering groundwater, surface waters, and the Estuary. In turn, greater nitrogen loading of the Peconic Estuary can be expected to result in more frequent harmful algal blooms, reduced water clarity, and a general degradation of coastal habitats. Excessive pathogens may lead to more frequent closures of bathing beaches and shellfish harvesting areas, while herbicides and pesticides are increasingly being linked to losses of seagrasses and other marine habitats that serve as important feeding and nursery areas for recreationally and commercially important fish species.

As temperatures increase, sea levels rise (SLR), and precipitation occurs with increasing intensity, estuarine species and habitats may move or change. Where there is significant coastal development and shoreline hardening, important habitats such as salt marshes could be blocked from migrating landward as sea levels rise. Changes in air and water temperatures may lead to shifts in the relative abundance of fish and other estuarine species. Species once thought to be more southerly or warm-adapted may become more common, while those adapted to cooler climatic conditions may decline. Ocean and coastal acidification due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide could negatively affect shell-building creatures and many other types of estuarine life. The dynamic nature of the Peconic Estuary’s natural resources will require protection of critical habitats both where they exist today and where they may exist in the future.

Completed in 2019, the Peconic Estuary Partnership Climate Vulnerability Assessment and Action Plan, as well as other scientific resources, informed the CCMP 2020 development process and detailed the below information on climate change impacts.

Climate Change Impacts in the Peconic Estuary

House on stilts on the shore of the Peconic Estuary.
CRRA Sea Level Rise Projections for the Long Island Region
The Sea Level Rise (SLR) Protections were taken from the New York State Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) SLR projections, which were based on the 2014 ClimAID update.

Current Projects & Initiatives

Erosion behind a bulkhead on the shore.

restoring the Peconic Estuary and its watershed.

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