The influence of weather on the recreational uses of coastal lagoons in Rhode Island, USA

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The recreational uses of coastal lagoons (also known locally as salt ponds) contribute significantly to the important tourism economy of the southern part of the US state of Rhode Island. The lagoons are valued highly for the wide range of recreational services they provide, such as fishing, clamming, rowing, boating, or merely relaxing. Outdoors on or near the water, weather conditions may influence individual recreation decisions strongly. A changing climate is expected to affect weather conditions in Rhode Island, thereby potentially influencing when, how, and how much recreation will take place in the coastal areas of the state. Through direct observations of human activities on coastal lagoons, the sensitivity of coastal recreational uses to changes in weather conditions was assessed. If future changes in climate bring warmer temperatures and more intense wind and rain events, our results suggest that there may be a decrease in relaxing, rowing, and fishing on coastal lagoons when days are hotter and a decrease in rowing and fishing when days are windier. Nevertheless, warmer temperatures also may lengthen the summers, leading to an overall increase in the peak coastal recreation season. However, during the hottest periods, there may be a shift toward more motor boating and away from other uses, motor boaters were more resistant than other users to changes when temperatures increase. Understanding how weather and climate influence coastal recreation could help coastal managers and businesses better plan for the future in Rhode Island and other coastal environments worldwide.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Marine Policy