The Who, What, When, Where & Why

Welcome to SciencePensieve! This blog is an interactive and “raw” view of science-at-work for a research project investigating how climate change will affect Chesapeake Bay ecosystems. Throughout the duration of this NOAA-funded research project, I will be posting and updating my progress weekly.

Here are some of the specifics!

The Who

This project partners scientists from The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), and Chesapeake Environmental Communications (CEC).

The following are just a few of the people participating in this research project.

Kari Pohl: I am a chemical oceanographer and environmental scientist who is passionate to better understand how climate is changing and what those changes may mean for estuarine ecosystems. As an environmental scientist, I like to look at “the big picture” or how many different factors come into play to cause ecosystem disturbances.

Victoria Coles: I am a physical oceanographer, someone who studies ocean currents, who is also interested in ecology and how it’s shaped by the distribution of elements in the ocean and how in turn ocean ecology influences global climate. Some of my research questions can only be addressed at the scale of entire oceans, others, such as this project ask how our local Chesapeake Bay environment is influenced by climate variability and change.

Raleigh Hood: I am a biological oceanographer, someone who studies ocean and estuarine ecology and nutrient cycling.  Most of my research involves using numerical models to simulate and better understand ecological and biogeochemical processes in marine systems.  My research covers a wide range of spatial scales, from local embayments in the Chesapeake to entire ocean basins.  In Chesapeake Bay I use models and observations to study ecosystem dynamics, nutrient cycling and transport, and how these processes are affected by climate variability and anthropogenic impacts.

Bob Wood: I work for NOAA and my research focuses on the effects of climate variability and changes on coastal ecosystems and the ecosystem services they provide to our coastal communities. I am excited to be a part of this project because of its novel approach.  While we often talk about average annual changes in weather conditions that are likely to occur over time, these are statistics. Our goal here is to shed light on how changes in the frequency of key weather events (storms, droughts, heat waves, cold snaps, etc.) will influence the Bay and the ecosystem services we derive from it – and we plan to relate those relationship to projected climate projections to provide greater insight into the types of changes and even ‘surprises’ we might be challenged with as climate changes take place.

Paula Jasinski: I’m a coastal scientist who runs an environmental communications consulting firm. My work focuses on making science accessible to environmental managers, regulators, students, user groups, and the general public. To do this we analyze data and research findings to create new information products. These products often include maps, graphics, animations, video clips, interactive e-books, web tools, and more.

Dave Jasinski: I have a Master’s degree in estuarine ecology and have worked around Chesapeake Bay my entire professional life.  I’ve worked in the field collecting data and samples, in the lab analyzing samples and running experiments, and in front of the computer analyzing data, creating graphics, and writing narratives describing what all that information means.  While I’ve enjoyed all of it, what I love most is using diagrams, interactive graphics, and descriptive text to explain how the Bay works. I’m excited to jump into this project and come up with new ways to communicate what we find!

The What (aka The Problem Statement)

How will climate change affect ecosystem services in Chesapeake Bay?

Climate variability and change is a complex but pressing concern for coastal ecosystems within Chesapeake Bay. Both organismal and ecological responses to climate variability reflect nonlinear interactions with the environment that may lead to tipping points, thresholds, or highly resilient systems. Past investigations of climate sensitivity have largely focused on modeled mean changes in temperature and sea level, however these are highly uncertain, and may not include the non-linearities that often characterize ecological and organismal responses.

The When

Right now! This 2 year funded project began on my first day (November 3, 2014).

The Where

The study area is Chesapeake Bay.

We will be using time series data collected at the seven CBNERRS sites located strategically within Chesapeake Bay in both Maryland and Virginia. Collectively, the CBNERRS sites represent many of the diverse and important ecosystems of Chesapeake Bay.

The Why

The iconic Chesapeake Bay is important ecologically and economically for both Maryland and Virginia. In order to preserve this valuable and beautiful natural resource, we must understand better how climate change is affecting its ecosystems.

Climate change is multifaceted and non-linear, meaning the organisms will experience more complex stressors than a gradual year-to-year temperature increase. We aim look at climate variability and extreme events on estuarine organisms, such as the blue crab, in order to understand their vulnerability and resilience.

The multi-decadal time series data from the CBNERRS, and other data sources (such as the Chesapeake Bay Program) will allow us to determine how climate variability and extremes have changed, what the present state looks like, and make predictions for how these extremes will effect aquatic ecosystems in the near future.

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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