Coastal Change Summary

Coastal change is becoming a high priority as communities around the world face climate-related challenges. It is vital that we assess and enhance resilience in the Houston area and along Texas’ coastline. While the temperature and pH levels of the Bay have levelled out, the high rate of sea level rise and increases in freshwater demands are concerning. As sea level rises and weather patterns change, we will witness measurable changes in the physical environment of Galveston Bay.

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What We Can do

  • Conserve water by landscaping with native plants, installing water-saving appliances, and using water only when necessary.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint by driving less, considering fuel efficiency when purchasing a vehicle, and conserving electricity.
  • Use less “stuff” by recycling and repurposing. Watch The Story of Stuff.


Freshwater Inflows

The Bay’s health depends on freshwater flowing downstream from rivers, bayous, and creeks. The amount and timing of freshwater inflows are directly related to salinity, the availability of nutrients to fuel the food web, and to the presence of sediment that helps stabilize the wetlands. The Bay’s rivers, bayous and creeks appear to be maintaining an adequate rate of flow for now, but increasing water use and climate variability threatens their future reliability.

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Fresh Water Inflows

Feed the Bay with necessary nutrients, sediments and freshwater

What We Can do

Conserve Our Freshwater Inflows


Galveston Bay Freshwater Inflows

Sea Level

Relative sea level rise is the combination of subsidence and rising ocean levels. Rising sea levels affect vital coastal habitats, as well as human communities. Galveston Bay’s long history of sea level rise, subsidence, storm surge, and flooding, makes sea level an issue of critical concern.

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Sea Level

The oldest Galveston Bay Report Card trend line going back more than 100 years

What We Can do

Become More Resilient to Rising Sea Level

  • Contact your local officials and ask how your community is becoming more resilient and preparing for a changing coast.
  • Protect and restore habitat  like wetlands and seagrass.
  • Reduce your influence on the extent and rate at which coastal change takes place by reducing your carbon footprint.

Galveston Bay Sea Level

Water Temperature

Winter water temperatures represent the lower range of temperatures that plants and animals endure in order to live in the Bay. As changes in climate impact water temperatures, species of plants and animals move into new areas where they were not previously found. The Bay’s winter water temperatures for December to February have not exhibited an increase from 1970 to 2015.

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Galveston Bay Winter Water Temperature

What is the ideal winter water temperature range for native species?

What We Can do

Help Native Species Thrive in Galveston Bay

  • Educate yourself about invasive species using the Galveston Bay Area field guides.
  • Learn about how changing temperatures affect coastal environments. Water temperature affects the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water and also tells us what types of plants and animals are able to live in the estuary.
  • Report aquatic invasive species to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Dickinson: (281) 534-0100.

Galveston Bay Water Temperature

Water pH

Water  acidity or alkalinity is measured by pH values. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity. Since Galveston Bay’s pH is determined by the mixing of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico and freshwater from rivers and bayous in the watershed, changes in either source can have an impact. The pH values in the Bay appear to be maintaining, and are in a safe range for aquatic life.

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Galveston Bay Water PH

A crucial water quality indicator for Bay life

What We Can do

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint



Galveston Bay Water pH

Want more? Check the grades on other Indicators.

Water Quality
Pollution Events & Sources
Human Health Risk
Coastal Change