Anatomy of our Climate Extreme Index White Paper

Last Wednesday (March 2nd) we had our third Think Tank meeting which brought together our project partners from the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves of Virginia and Maryland, NOAA, Chesapeake Environmental Communications, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

This SciencePensieve post will briefly go over the agenda from Think Tank III and then show you example from the White Paper which was given to all project partners!

What did we discuss during Think Tank III?

The agenda for Think Tank III was jam packed with presentations with three main objectives throughout the day:

A snowy egret wading in Chesapeake Bay. Credit

A snowy egret wading in Chesapeake Bay. Credit

To deliver a summary of the climate extreme variability and change synthesis

To present and discuss key ecosystem and environmental responses of climate change at the CBNERRs

Discuss products that would enhance the educational, outreach, and science missions of the CBNERRs

The ultimate goals of Think Tank III were for all attendees to have a clear idea of the final products (data, tools, and visuals) that will be created by the end of this project and to have a solid understanding of how the CBNERRs are sensitive to climate change and variability.

So what did we discuss?

A beautiful sunset at Solomon's Island. Credit

A beautiful sunset at Solomon’s Island. Credit

We began the day with a recap of “how we got here”, which also laid out our unique “fluid” project approach. This collaborative project where research direction is based on stakeholder and end-user needs and is immediately useful is not a well-defined template. So not only was this presentation a project update, but also a requested product to document our approach (successes, failures, and things we wish we did differently!)

The next presentation was a brief summary of the climate extreme synthesis (see below!). We handed all attendees a hard copy and will be emailing them an e-copy of the White Paper. If you remember, the initial climate results were a primary focus from Think Tank II, so we also discussed how we have improved our analyses since then!

Then to the “vignettes” which we had not discussed as a group yet! We allotted a half hour to each vignette, four in total. They were: heat-caused SAV dieback events, wet day frequency and total nitrogen, phenology: a change of seasons, changes to Vibrio probability.

A sailboat on Chesapeake Bay. Credit

A sailboat on Chesapeake Bay. Credit

The next presentation was more open and intended to discuss already-created, in construction, and any other products which would help our partners. This included the premiere of a website we have started which would summarize the vignettes and provide the data to anyone interested in Chesapeake Bay.                 

Lastly, we turned it over to our partners to get their responses, expectations, and additional guidance which will make this project not only a success but also a useful package of products that will help the CBNERRs in their mission of estuarine research, education, and stewardship!

Anatomy of our Climate Extreme Index White Paper

As we indicated above, one completed product was the climate extreme index White Paper. So what does this white paper entail?

There are 26 climate extreme indices and each page in the White Paper is dedicated to summarizing the Chesapeake Bay patterns of change in a reader-friendly way. Below is the breakdown!

Figure 1: A breakdown of our White Paper using the index Tropical Nights!

Figure 1: A breakdown of our White Paper using the index Tropical Nights!

At the top is the definition of the climate extreme index.

Under to the left is the historical and future decadal trend and its assigned confidence.

Under to the right is a Bay-wide trend. That solid line is the 21-year moving mean (smoothed) and the lighter line is the year to year plotted data. We showed an example of this graph in a post last month!

At the very bottom is a “tweetable”. This is a brief statement (in under 144 characters) that either describes the pattern of that index or gives an example of why we care.

Lastly, there is a picture mainly for a “beautification” factor but also to visually show a possible implication. For example, more warm nights to me means more trips to my favorite ice cream shop (I am obsessed with their malted chocolate milk shakes!). These pictures are all labeled for reuse!

Final Thoughts!

While preparing for this Think Tank, I revisited materials from Think Tank II (held at the end of last March). We have come a long way! As we move closer to the finish line, we will be (of course!) continuing to update this blog weekly and maintaining open communication. We have a lot of work to do, but the take home is that we have already made substantial progress forward.

We are in a great place!

Kari Pohl

About Kari Pohl

I am a post-doctoral researcher at NOAA and the University of Maryland (Center for Environmental Science at Horn Point Laboratory). My work investigates how climate variability and extremes affect the diverse ecosystems in Chesapeake Bay. I received a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island (2014) and received a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.A. in Chemistry from Roger Williams University (2009). When I am not busy being a scientist, my hobbies include running, watching (and often yelling at) the Boston Bruins, and taking photos of my cat.
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