volunteers at masonville cove

Climate Change and Resiliency

Global climate change poses serious challenges, but we each have the ability and responsibility to care for our ocean planet—after all, our lives and those of future generations depend on it. No one is immune to climate change, but not everyone faces the same level of vulnerability. Socioeconomic differences are creating uneven levels of exposure and preparedness to growing coastal risks, thereby limiting adaptation options for some communities.

The National Aquarium strives to enhance ocean and climate literacy for everyone, drawing from environmental justice principles in our ongoing work around climate change. We remain committed to expanding ocean and climate literacy while we help to build resilience in our society to various impacts of climate change.

Our Focus


Climate Literacy

Understanding the basics of Earth’s climate system, along with an awareness of our influence on the climate and how climate influences society, enables informed and responsible decisions.

Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere that exceeds natural levels. This “extra” carbon dioxide builds up and acts like a heavy blanket, trapping the Earth’s heat and warming the atmosphere and ocean, and causing dramatic changes to global climate. The good news is that billions of people around the world are taking action to reduce the use of fossil fuels through a variety of ways, from global accords like the Paris Agreement to individual energy-use changes.

The National Aquarium is committed to communicating a solutions-focused approach to climate knowledge and action by helping to translate ocean and climate science to a broad public audience through our education programs, presentations and tours. We are climate educators, and partner with groups including the Antarctica Southern Ocean Coalition and the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) to communicate climate literacy.

Climate Impacts

Climate change is impacting people and the planet in a number of ways, including rising sea levels, increased risk of storm surge, ocean acidification and the urban heat island effect.

As our ocean planet warms, water expands to take up more space, causing sea levels to rise. The melting of glaciers and ice caps on land is also adding water to the ocean. Sea-level rise is clearly affecting those who live along shorelines and coasts, although all of us will be impacted as airports and roads along the coast are increasingly inundated.

Ocean acidification is another result of excess carbon dioxide, which is causing a decrease in the pH of seawater as it is absorbed into the ocean. This change in ocean chemistry is impacting shell-building animals like oysters and crabs, which are crucial to the ocean food web—and important to the seafood industry and end consumers.

The good news is that we also have the knowledge and technology to address these problems and mitigate the severity of future impacts, but individuals and organizations have to act now. The Aquarium strives to continually reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint within our daily operations. By using solar power, installing LED lights and motion sensors, incentivizing staff to find green ways to commute and eliminating single-use plastic foodware in our cafes, our actions align with our mission.

Climate Resiliency

How we as a society respond to challenges and stresses in the face of climate change will determine how well we all fare in both natural and developed environments.

Resiliency to climate change refers to the ability of communities to anticipate, accommodate and positively adapt to changing climate conditions or hazard events. In general, working with—rather than against—nature is a better approach from environmental and economic perspectives. The consequences of climate change are already being felt, and there are many strategies that can help our communities adapt—including interconnected green spaces, improved policies and better infrastructure design. We also know that healthy coastal habitats reduce flooding, erosion and storm surge.

From where the National Aquarium is located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Patapsco River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in North America. The National Aquarium works with many partners on projects such as habitat restoration and wildlife gardening, which increase our resiliency to climate impacts in coastal and urban environments.


Our Approach


Habitat restoration

Habitat Restoration

Join the Aquarium Conservation Team as we restore vital habitats for wildlife and people.

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Youth Engagement

The Youth Ocean Conservation Summit (YOCS) provides youth participants the opportunity to learn from marine scientists and conservationists about the current threats facing marine ecosystems, both locally and globally.

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Visualizing Change

Our guest engagement team uses the Magic Planet—a unique, interactive model of our Earth—to involve our visitors in conversations about issues facing our global community, such as climate change and sea level rise.

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recycle
We’ve helped to restore 4,000 acres of tidal wetlands, dunes and other coastal and upland habitat.*
*as of July 2017

Your Actions




Glossary

Carbon footprint: The amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by a specific activity.
Source: National Geographic

Climate: Climate is a 30-year average of conditions in a certain area based on temperature, precipitation, humidity, sunshine, cloudiness, wind and air pressure.
Source: NNOCCI

Climate resiliency: The capacity of a community, business, or natural environment to prevent, withstand, respond to, and recover from a disruption.
Source: U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Global warming: The increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases.
Source: NASA

Greenhouse gases: Gases such as carbon dioxide and methane that trap heat in the atmosphere.
Source: EPA

Ocean acidification: Term that refers to the reduction in pH across the global ocean, caused by its absorption of excess carbon dioxide. The resulting chemical reactions lowers pH, resulting in more acidic seawater, and affects the availability of calcium carbonate to shell-building animals such as oysters and crabs.
Source: National Aquarium

Sea-level rise: On average, global sea level is rising, caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers, and the expansion of sea water as it warms.
Source: NASA

Weather: Weather is the current state of the atmosphere with respect to wind, temperature, cloudiness, moisture, pressure, etc.
Source: NNOCCI

Wetland: Areas where the land is covered by shallow water or the soil is saturated to the surface for at least 14 consecutive days during the growing season.
Source: NPS