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Evaluating the potential impacts of climate change on coastal wetlands using GIS Techniques The coastal wetland communities

in Tamil Nadu are already under threat due to several anthropogenic factors such as urbanization, residential development. In addition, they are also potentially threatened by the continuous variation in climate. In evaluating the potential impact of climate change, it is important to examine a range of issues including the present extent and types of wetlands in the study area, the environmental requirements and tolerances of keystone wetland flora, inundation by elevated sea level and changes in biogeochemical processes that may result from elevated temperatures. The objectives are: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) To provide an overview of wetland classifications in relation to their communities and their environmental variables with an emphasis on Tamil Nadu coast; To map the current and past wetland communities in Tamil Nadu in order to identify any changes in quality and extent; To predict the potential spatial distribution of selected wetland species as a result of climate change (mean annual temperature increase); To predict the potential impact of sea level rise on the coastal wetland communities To estimate the amount of methane emission from the coastal wetlands using satellite data and to estimate emission with a temperature increase To provide management, mitigation and adaptation strategies that could be used to minimize the impacts of climate change on the coastal wetland ecosystems.

In this proposal to obtain above objective the following methodology will be used. Satellite imagery was used to identify, map and monitor the wetland communities. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was produced and the health of the wetland vegetation was evaluated. Geographic Information System provided the framework for mapping, modeling and analysis. Bioclimatic modeling such as BIOCLIM was used to predict the potential spatial distribution of the wetland species under current and future climatic scenarios. Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) was used to predict the potential impacts of sea level rise on the coastal wetland communities. A process-based methane emission model that included a productivity factor, temperature dependent (T factor), wetland area, methane flux, precipitation and evaporation ratio was used to estimate the amount of methane emission from the wetlands. This research will provide valuable information that could be used by coastal wetland managers in planning and conservation. In order to enhance the conservation of these ecosystems, effective management strategies such as protection and buffering of existing and potentially suitable habitats is recommended. Furthermore, the implementation of efficient mitigation and adaptation strategies of climate change could alleviate the devastating impacts on these sensitive wetland ecosystems.