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Research, monitoring, and modeling are crucial to help determine the onset, extent, and scope of impacts from climate change at every scale, from global to local. The sanctuary system has developed a number of projects and products to help answer climate change impact questions related to its sites.
Condition reports for each site provide an overview of the status and trends of the resources of the national marine sanctuaries and monument managed by NOAA, including discussions of direct and indirect impacts from climate change, and climate change as an emerging threat in most sites. With the completion of all fourteen site condition reports and a national condition report, the standardized questions at the heart of condition reports have been revised to more fully assess impacts and threats from climate change.
Climate-related science figures prominently in the science needs for a number of sites, including Florida Keys; Gray's Reef; American Samoa (sea level rise, ocean acidification, and bleaching); Papahanaumokuakea (ocean acidification and sea level rise); Channel Islands; Gulf of the Farallones; and Olympic Coast.
In studying the impacts of climate and other large scale natural and human-induced changes, we must consider how such impacts have changed resources from certain baseline conditions. This is done through such approaches as historical ecology.
Individual national marine sanctuaries are also developing climate change reports that use regional experts to provide projections about the direction and magnitude of climate change factors such as sea level, temperature, acidification, storminess, circulation, and hydrology. Their work bridges the gap between global projections provided by the IPCC, and the regional and local impacts of climate change.
The National Marine Sanctuary System is part of larger efforts related to monitoring and studying climate change impacts, including NOAA's Sentinel Sites project.