Caution: Science at Work!

Today’s post is going to be a bit different than the normal format. Instead, it is going to be a “to be continued” story.

16451794648_f54e94c55a_bLet me start from the beginning.

Every Tuesday, we have a group meeting (Meet the Team) to discuss findings, issues, and all other aspects of this project. One topic on this week’s agenda dealt with social media and the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

Right now, representatives from over 190 countries are meeting in Paris to discuss the global issue of climate change with the ultimate goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, among many other things. This 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties has given climate change a lot of momentum on many social media platforms, especially Twitter. Check out the hashtag #COP21 to see what I am talking about!

This led us to realize: this is a great time to think about “tweetable” facts from our project that would be helpful to educate Bay residences about our findings.

For example:

The growing season has increased by 44 days in South Chesapeake. What does this mean for your garden? #changingchesapeake

It is actually quite difficult summarizing a science finding in less than 144 characters. Oh, and #changingchesapeake is the hashtag for the Chesapeake Ecological Atlas. Portions of this project will be used in a climate chapter currently being outlined.

The Growing Season Length Question

The historically reconstructed growing season length in chesapeake Bay.

Figure 1: The historically reconstructed growing season length in Chesapeake Bay.

The historically reconstructed growing season length plot in Figure 1 is one of the strongest visual arguments showing how our climate has already changed in our lifetime. From that “Tweet” above, you learned that the growing season has increased by a mean of 44 days in South Chesapeake and 17 days in North Chesapeake.

This is where the combination of group meetings and scientific interest come into play. Yes, the growing season length is expanding, but when is this change occurring?

Is the growing season starting earlier? Later? Both?

The answer of when is the growing season change occurring is important to understand things like “when should I plant my spring garden?” or “how late might a migratory bird or fish stay in the Chesapeake region before moving south for the winter?”

To Be Continued

Picture3This is where the story ends for today.

This is a fascinating question to investigate! If the growing season is getting longer, we want to know when. My goal at hand: find out the answer!

With some R programming, I hope to determine the first and last day of the growing season length for each year in our atmospheric temperature data.

So stay tuned….this is an analysis in progress!

Quick Note

That El Nino post I promised last week will be featured next week! Stay tuned!

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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