Phenology Inspiration

Figure 1:

Figure 1: The length of the growing season over the past century.

In today’s post, I thought I’d demonstrate how I am personally using this information.

The phenology vignette has inspired me to start me our data collection. Phenology affects so many different processes from carbon sequestration to pollination to food supply (and so much more!).

For my inspiration, I am using a salt marsh. Salt marsh ecology is affected by the seasonal cycle of the dominate vegetation species: from when a marsh first starts to ‘green up’ in the spring to when it reaches peak biomass in the late summer, to when it starts to senesce in the fall. While these phenological events will naturally vary year to year, the expansion of the growing season (Fig. 1) suggests that the long-term trend could mean an earlier greening and a later browning.

All long-term monitoring projects started with a question, a single data point, and a dedicated scientist. Why not start monitoring the phenology of a salt marsh near me?

Art and Science

Fig. 2: Art and Science are connected by wonder. Credit

Fig. 2: Art and Science are connected by wonder. Credit: openlabresearch

Coreen Weilminster showed a fantastic slide at the Patuxent River Conference. Science and Art are twins connected by Wonder (Fig. 2).

Starting next week, I have decided to take a picture of a salt marsh at the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve every Wednesday from the same location for as long as possible.

Weekly photographs could allow me to ‘see’ and archive the seasonal transition of that marsh over the course of a year. Through these images, I could estimate when the marsh first wakes up and when it first dies back in the fall.

If I am truly ambitious, I will continue this effort for a few years and start my own phenology data set. At the very least, I will have a great collage of the transition of a marsh from summer to winter!

A test photograph...could this be the location I pick?

A test photograph…could this be the location I pick?


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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