Climate Change

flooded pond

A Threat to Narragansett Bay

Climate change is impacting and threatening Narragansett Bay in many ways. We are seeing impacts to salt marshes and fish habitat, changes in species diversity, and challenges with water quality. In Narragansett Bay, water temperatures have increased 3° F in the last hundred years. In that same time, Bay waters have risen up to seven inches and the rate of sea level rise has increased.

  • Other consequences of climate change include:
  • Beach erosion and loss of coastal access, shoreline property and infrastructure
  • Increased hurricane intensity and activity
  • Increased rainfall and storm events, with periods of drought
  • Health impacts such as increased asthma attacks and mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis

This is an issue that affects everyone — families, homeowners, businesses, recreational and commercial fisheries, and the tourism industry. 

Our coastal ecosystems must be resilient. We must protect the Bay from threats while increasing our ability to adapt to future changes. That includes reducing nitrogen loading to the Bay and accelerating efforts to restore critical habitats, and help them adapt to sea level rise and warming temperatures. In highly vulnerable coastal communities, it means moving people, homes, businesses, and infrastructure inland and out of harm's way. 

We must also work to mitigate climate change. We can do this by supporting efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels, creating more renewable energy, and increasing the efficiency of our buildings and homes. It is important that the people who live and work in and around the Narragansett Bay watershed and coastal communities understand the Bay's role as part of a global ecosystem.