One of the unique aspects of this research project is that it is a dynamic collaboration. Climate change is a complex topic, so it makes sense to include scientists and communicators from many different backgrounds.
This research is with the vital guidance and expertise of researchers, educators and stakeholders from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), Chesapeake Environmental Communications (CEC), and the National Estuarine Research Reserve Systems (NERRS) of Maryland and Virginia.
This project is a true partnership, which can be surprisingly unique in science. The ultimate goal is to create usable products to help educate and provide insight for ecosystem effects caused by climate changes.
This blog, in part, was established as a platform for the stakeholders and researchers, providing a routine, weekly update of our findings. Before this blog was launched, a first “Think Tank” was conducted on November 10th, 2014 to identify and address the research needs of Chesapeake Bay ecosystems. In other words, what can we do to help express how import climate change is to Chesapeake Bay habitats?
So what are we doing? Figure 1 is a conceptual model describing our ambitious, but necessary, DPSIR research approach. DPSIR is short for Driver, Pressure, State, Impact, and Response and is a flexible framework popular for addressing climate change. You can read more about it here or in published literature such as Gari et al., 2014.
The first “step” of this project is to determine the meteorological Drivers. This is what I am presently working on by calculating the Climate Extreme Indices and general mean trends in atmospheric temperature and precipitation in the Chesapeake Bay region. Our thought process is this: Before we can understand how habitats are affected by climate change, we need to understand how the climate in Chesapeake Bay is changing.
After these indices and mean climatic trends are analyzed, the environmental Pressures can be determined. Aquatic environmental pressures include ecosystem thresholds of dissolved oxygen, water temperature, and salinity. (This will surely be a future post(s)!)
Essentially, we need to link the environmental pressures to the atmospheric drivers. For example, a heat spike in the air should affect the regional water temperature, and thus the shallow water ecosystems of Chesapeake Bay. From here, we can predict how ecosystems and organisms sensitive to heat spikes will be affected, and how often these excursion could occur in the near future.
In a way, this project has three “chapters” to it (Figure 2). Each “chapter” is an independent and multidimensional report, but all three are needed to truly understand how climate change and variability will affect the estuarine habitats of Chesapeake Bay.
Anyone interested in more details of this Work Plan can be emailed a copy upon request.
Gari, Sirak Robele, Alice Newton, and John D. Icely. “A review of the application and evolution of the DPSIR framework with an emphasis on coastal social-ecological systems.” Ocean & Coastal Management 103 (2014): 63-77.