Climate change poses a significant challenge to National Park System units in southern Florida. Everglades National Park has long faced challenges to the preservation of its natural resources because of surrounding water management infrastructure, and is considered one of our nation’s most imperiled landscapes. A majority of the park’s 1.5 million acres (0.6 million ha) lies below 1 m (3 ft) of elevation and is exposed to the sea. Predictions of 21st-century climate change that include potential sea-level rise of more than 1 m (3 ft), combined with forecasted temperature increases of as much as 5°C (9°F), pose a significant predicament for the future ecological integrity of the park. The risk from sea-level rise, coupled with more than a century of disruption of the region’s natural hydrology, is a significant challenge for natural resource management and ecosystem restoration efforts. In recognition of these challenges, climate change issues related to changing plant communities, soils, water quality, habitat loss, and endangered species are being addressed in the context of Everglades’ research priorities and planning.
In this article we describe the park’s science and resource management program and how we approach climate change–related research and monitoring, providing examples of how we use this information. We will also provide an example of a resource management project designed to increase resilience in the Cape Sable area of the park in response to sea-level rise over the next few decades.