Combining minds to help prepare for the future

Standing water was a rain storm. Credit: UMCES

Standing water after a rain storm. Credit: UMCES

On Tuesday, March 30th, this project had its second Think Tank workshop. Representatives from the National Center for Coastal Ocean Science (NOAA), the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves of Maryland and Virginia, Chesapeake Environmental Communications, and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science met at the National Estuarine Research Reserve at Virginia Institute for Marine Science. (Thank you to CBNERRSVA for hosting us!)

After a light breakfast and a chance to casually talk, this full day workshop began with a “How We Got Here” presentation. Presented by Dr. Bob Wood, he discussed the concept of resiliency for coastal communities and as well as some concepts we had derived from the first Think Tank meeting (November 10, 2014).

The next presentation wonderfully became a dynamic open discussion (thank you to everyone for their participation and fantastic ideas on what the trends could mean to ecosystems and people in the Chesapeake Bay region!).

For this section, the major historical trends of select climate extremes were presented. These climate extremes included: the growing season length, daily temperature range, the percentage of days when Tmin as in the 10th percentile, the total annual precipitation, the count of annual days when more than 10 mm precipitation fell, and maximum amount of 1 day precipitation, and the duration of warm and colds spells. The data presentation included the raw trends, the 21-year mean trends, and the 21-year variability.

A meadow of the eelgrass Zostera marina. Credit: VIMS

A meadow of the eelgrass Zostera marina. Credit: VIMS

Together, all attendees of the workshop discussed extreme weather events they remembered as well as implications these climate trends could have for important ecosystem services. For example, it was suggested that we relate (test for correlation) the changes in intense precipitation events to streamflow; this relationship could be further related to dissolved oxygen, salinity, and turbidity, which could have implications for submerged aquatic vegetation health, survivability, and species.

This discussion continued after lunch and personally pointed me into future collaborative directions and ideas that will hopefully produce helpful analytical ‘stories’ using actual data to investigate the resiliency of near-shore ecosystems. This PowerPoint has been made available to the group in attendance via Google Drive. I am also happy to email anyone a copy upon request. I hope to create a central depository in the near future as well for similar materials.

A raging Potomoc River in the Fall of 2011. Credit: National Parks Service

A raging Potomoc River in the Fall of 2011. Credit: National Parks Service

In the remainder of the Think Tank, we discussed future directions and potential product outcomes. In the next week, I will be drafting a “matrix” of the potential directions and “analytical stories” we discussed. This matrix, or “catalogue of potential products” will be given to the Maryland and Virginia NERRS for them to discuss and decide which investigations will help them best.

In conclusion, our second Think Tank provoked some really intriguing ideas and future directions for this project. This Think Tank also wrapped up the first phase of the project (the climate Drivers of ecosystem changes), so I will be compiling a summary of these major climate extreme trends in the next few weeks!

Warning: this summary/overview of the Think Tank only scratches the surface of what we discussed! I am excited to see what additional future products and ecosystems problems we will address!

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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