Long Island Sound Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change Program
F. New York Technical Work Group Discussions
This appendix is presented here to document work and discussions of the NY technical work group, however, it is important to note that not all work group suggestions represented here were incorporated into the bi-state plan.
The NY work group agreed that a strategy document ultimately had to address the following:
- A statement regarding anthropogenic and climate change influences, their interplay, and the difficulty of teasing them apart
- A definition of the overall goals of this monitoring program
- A list of the categories and parameters that were developed and tweaked by all work groups during the course of this project and the changes in the environment necessary to identify under each category
As mentioned previously, the NY work group spent considerable time developing and editing a matrix of indicators. It was thought that such a matrix would be important for helping to identify the cross-cutting parameters. In the development of this matrix, the NY work group recognized the strong linkage between the physical parameters and climate change, less so for chemical parameters, and even less so for the biological parameters.
The NY group slowly developed a ranking system in an effort to choose indicators for a pilot program. It was necessary to first define the different monitoring “feasibilities.” “Very feasible” was defined as a parameter that was economic to measure at a temporal extent appropriate for that parameter. This was also applied to parameters that are already being monitored. Lower feasibility rankings were assigned based on cost of assessment and labor intensity associated with making the assessment (e.g., rates). However, all the parameters are extremely important in assessing climate change impacts regardless of feasibility.
The NY work group defined three “categories” and then three “tiers” within those categories based on such criteria as feasibility, monitoring time scales, and whether an indicator was already being monitored. It was originally envisioned that a pilot study would be taken from a subset of the indicators in the first and second tier. The NY work group outlined criteria that make a sentinel high priority as follows:
- if it is not being adequately monitored; however this must be tempered such that indicators currently being monitored are not neglected and are synthesized in the context of climate change
- if it cuts across multiple sentinels and answers multiple questions
- sentinels for which climate impacts are more readily determined may be ideal for a pilot monitoring program, especially since this could lead to more funding.
The categories were defined as A) Very important, but not being collected sufficiently; B) Very important, data already being collected sufficiently over time and space (i.e., various sites covering LIS are being sampled on sufficient time scales); and, C) Not appropriate for this program. Within those categories, the tiers were defined as follows:
Tier 3 – important parameter to be addressed, but not suited for this monitoring program, recommend for future funding
- climate change would have a small impact on the parameter/indicator as compared to other factors acting on that parameter; or
- more hypothesis-driven research as compared to monitoring that will yield changing results over time (e.g., temperature tolerance of phenotypes); and/or
- monitoring likely to continue in the long term (but we should recommend project(s) continue to receive funding).
Tier 2 – second-rung suggested monitoring
- Data can be extrapolated from other sources; and/or
- Longer time scale to see change, but still a priority
Tier 1 – first-rung suggested monitoring
- most sensitive to climate change and may also be likely to yield relatable results, particularly over the short time scale of a pilot study.
(See Appendix G for application of the above)
Eventually, the bi-state work group went with a different, but similar ranking approach. Both state work groups ranked the sentinels through an online survey described in the main body of this strategy.
The New York work group was occasionally lacking in specific technical expertise during discussions of individual sentinels. During these times, experts in the field were invited to individual meetings to fill the knowledge gap. For example, when discussing potential climate change impacts on disease prevalence in striped bass and shellfish, the NY work group leader contacted Bassem Allam and Mark Fast from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, who reported that disease prevalence in their studied species is affected by temperature and climate changes. This approach was used for other sentinels as well.
Notes on specific indicators: The NY work group spent considerable time discussing the identified indicators and the table in which they were organized. There are specific discussion notes on particular indicators, most notably:
- Most meteorological parameters are already being measured, however, it must be determined if those measurements work with this program (i.e., temporal and spatial scales). Many of the physical/chemical parameters can be measured together making the list slightly less extensive.
- Harmful algal blooms may have a connection to climate change, but they are not a great indicator because so many different factors affect blooms and they vary widely from year to year normally.
- Issues with salt wedge changes in rivers may not be important to NY, but it should still be considered since it is important in CT.
- Seasonal changes in the spring bloom may serve to track important aspects of the ecological community.
NY Technical Work Group discussion on the creation of a melded, bi-state matrix: At the meeting, Juliana Barrett explained that she took each NY “parameter” and placed it within the combined matrix where it fit best, which, for the most part, was in the second column of the matrix. The NY work group also discussed the columns overall. The work group expressed that ‘Data availability’ seemed very important because it indicates what data we have historically and aids in identifying data gaps.
A lot of detail from NY seemed lost in the creation of a single matrix. There was some support for writing up a “module” for each resource that would be very detailed in order to provide the information from NY that was not included in the table. However, the amount of staff time this would entail made this approach not feasible at the time of this strategy development. Concern was also expressed by work group members about the focus of the matrix on issues related to resource management.
During this discussion, NY identified several cross-cutting climate change factors that must be a part of any monitoring program which is now the preface to the matrix. This list became the set of core parameters, described in section V, and include: precipitation, temperature, stream flow (runoff and base flow), sea level, salinity, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, pH, and groundwater levels.