TX - Climate Change Adaptation in Action in Galveston Bay, Texas
Over the last 120 years, the sea level in the Galveston area has risen by more than 27 inches
Galveston Bay—the largest estuary in Texas—is a diverse ecosystem along the Gulf of Mexico brimming with prairies, seagrass meadows, marshes, and oyster reefs. Home to an array of aquatic species, the area is a hub for commercial fishing and recreational activities. But Galveston Bay’s vibrant biodiversity and the activities that depend on it are at risk. Thousands of acres of critical wetland habitat have already disappeared and many more are vulnerable to climate impacts.
Over the last 120 years, the sea level in the Galveston area has risen by more than 27 inches—three times greater than the global average—driven by a combination of land subsidence and rising ocean levels. This has resulted in the loss of over 35,000 acres of intertidal marsh habitat since the 1950s. Subsidence in Galveston Bay is the result of industrial activities, namely oil, gas, and groundwater extraction, which is causing the land to sink. At the same time, climate change is causing ocean levels to rise due to melting ice sheets and glaciers as well as thermal expansion.
To help ecosystems and communities adapt to these impacts, the Galveston Bay Foundation has worked in the region since 1987 to restore and protect critical wetland habitats. The foundation is a nationally accredited land trust and has conserved more than 13,000 acres of coastal habitat through property acquisitions and conservation easements.
“We’ve been restoring wetland habitat around Galveston Bay for over 30 years for the benefits it provides to fish and birds and water quality. But we are acutely aware in a time of climate change how important these wetlands can be in providing additional buffer and storm surge protection for people and communities,” noted Bob Stokes, president of the Galveston Bay Foundation.