Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2010

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to examine the impacts of global climate change on Rhode Island's coastal ecosystems. Average annual air temperature in Rhode Island has increased by 1.7 °C since 1880, water temperatures of Narragansett Bay have increased by 1.2 °C since 1950, precipitation increased 27% between 1895 and 1999, and sea level rose 0.13 m between 1931 and 2007. We can already see the effects of these climatic changes on the Narragansett Bay ecosystem, including ecological changes in the Bay's food web from phytoplankton and Zooplankton to fish, e.g., changes in phenology of seasonal phytoplankton blooms and dominant fish species (e.g., Pseudopleuronectes americanus [Winter Flounder]). These climatic changes have increased freshwater inputs and the concomitant pollutant loads into the Bay. Rising sea level has contributed to ongoing erosion of the coast and has put waterfront homes at increased risk. It is imperative to continue monitoring these effects.

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