2010 Annual Science Meeting

RARGOM Annual Science Meeting, Portsmouth, NH Oct 6, 2010



Public Beliefs About Climate Change in the Gulf of Maine Region

Lawrence Hamilton, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

Do scientists agree about climate change?  What do you personally believe?  We recently began exploring these questions through statewide public-opinion surveys in New Hampshire, and others conducted in coastal regions of Maine and elsewhere.  Large majorities of the New Hampshire and Maine respondents know that climate is changing now, although many attribute this to natural causes.  Belief in natural vs. anthropogenic causes varies with age, education and political leanings.  Age, education and politics also affect perceptions about the scientific consensus; people tend to believe that science supports their personal opinion.  The sharp partisan divisions regarding climate change might also affect views on local and coastal environmental issues.


Can changes in silver hake off the Northeast coast of the US and Canada and Gulf of Maine be related to and predicted by the strength of the Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation?

Terrence M. Joyce, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA


Working with Colleagues at WHOI (Young-Oh Kwon) and at NMFS (Janet Nye), we have been examining changes in biomass and location of silver hake using over 40 years of annual assessment data. Large interannual changes have been measured in biomass in the Gulf of Maine and north/south location of silver hake on the shelf and continental slope. We find that these changes are well-correlated with an index of the Gulf Stream (GS) path. In years of a more northerly GS path, the Slope Water temperatures are warmer and the silver hake aggregate further to the north and in the Gulf of Maine. The opposite is found in years of a more southerly GS. We will show the connection between GS path and strength of the Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation, as well as comment on the relationship of interannual changes and long-term trends in GS path and silver hake that suggest that changes in GS path precede and therefore might predict changes in silver hake. Some preliminary results for other commercially-important fish stocks are also presented and prospects for very long-term, climate-related changes discussed.


The impact of climate variability and change on ecosystem productivity across trophic levels

Charles Stock, NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Uncertainty in projections of the impact of climate change on fisheries production arises from multiple sources.  Climate model projections of physical ocean properties (e.g., stratification) often show similar trends on global and ocean-basin scales, but significant biases and inter-model spread are common at regional scales.  Changes in primary production obtained from marine ecosystem models coupled to physical climate model projections exhibit a broader range of possible outcomes.  These projections, however, often exhibit decreasing primary productivity at low- and mid-latitudes due to global warming (which increases surface stratification and exacerbates nutrient limitation), and increasing productivity at high latitudes (where increasing stratification and decreasing ice cover alleviates light limitation).  A global analysis of the transfer of primary production to mesozooplankton using observations and models suggests that such changes in primary productivity are likely to produce disproportionate changes in the productivity of higher trophic levels.  Most notably, decreased productivity in low latitude systems may produce even more pronounced decreases in fisheries production.  Model diagnosis suggests that this amplification arises from 1) a shift in the size-structure of the phytoplankton community; and 2) changes in the growth efficiency of consumers responding to changes in food supply.  These mechanisms also contribute to the non-linear ecosystem response to climate variability.  The potential implications of these results for the Gulf of Maine will be discussed.


Towards Understanding the Impacts of Didemnum vexillum

Judith Pederson, Greg Booma, John Davis, Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis, Ian Katz, Seth Newburg, and Michael Soroka,
MIT Sea Grant College Program, Cambridge, MA

Non-linear interactions between fishing, haddock egg predation and climate can drive major population cycles in Atlantic herring

David E. Richardson and Jon A. Hare    National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Narragansett, RI

Theoretical models suggest that populations exposed to gradual changes in climate or human pressures may abruptly shift between alternate stable states.  However, there is an absence of empirical data and well-parameterized mechanistic models supporting alternate stable states in exploited marine fish populations.  We present a population model indicating that egg predation by haddock can cause alternate stable population levels in Georges Bank Atlantic herring.  This population model assumes that: (1) larval herring abundance is a function of herring spawning stock biomass and egg survival from haddock predation, (2) that haddock exhibit a type III functional feeding response and (3) that recruitment is a density-dependent function (Beverton Holt) of larval herring abundance.   Parameters for the model were estimated using time-series of observed larval herring abundance, stock assessment estimates of herring spawning stock biomass and recruitment, and an index of haddock predation intensity derived from the haddock stock assessment. The model estimated that from 1971-2005 herring egg survival rates from haddock predation ranged from <2 to 70%. Year-to-year >90% declines in observed larval herring abundance following the 1975 and 2003 haddock year classes were well predicted by the model.  By incorporating estimated fishing mortality rates into this population model, we were able to explain the population trends of Atlantic herring over the past four decades, including a decline in the abundance of herring since 2006 in a compilation of 17 fisheries-independent time series.  Climate-associated changes in the dynamics of the herring population were simulated by altering the asymptote of the larval abundance to recruitment relationship.  These simulated changes altered the threshold herring population size between an increasing and decreasing population.  Even minor changes in the environment could thus trigger abrupt changes in herring abundance.   However, herring fishing mortality rates and haddock population levels, both of which are strongly influenced by management decisions, remained dominant drivers of herring population trends.  Overall, these results illustrate how predator abundance, fishing intensity, and climate can interact in a non-linear way to drive large-amplitude low-frequency cycles in the abundance of a small pelagic species.   



Assessing the social bases of public perceptions about marine resource use, coastal environmental problems, and climate change in Maine

Dr. Thomas G. Safford    Department of Sociology / Carsey Institute,  University of New Hampshire

Like many other coastal areas of the United States, Maine’s coastal communities are experiencing dramatic social and environmental changes.  Commercial fishing is in decline, marine aquaculture is expanding,  and tourism has emerged as one of the region’s principle economic drivers.  Second home development is expanding rapidly and shifting demographics are altering the social as well as cultural character of many coastal towns and villages.  Environmental problems, ranging from pollution of beaches and clambeds to sea level rise due to climate change, also threaten the social and ecological well-being of these communities.  Governmental and non-governmental entities are grappling with how to address these interconnected social and environmental concerns.  This makes studying the social forces influencing how coastal residents view different uses of marine resources and their inter-relationship with both global and local environmental problems a key research area.

In August 2009, social scientists at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire set out to investigate the inter-relationships between social and environmental change in coastal communities across the United States.  A pilot study was conducted in the two easternmost “Downeast” counties in Maine, Hancock and Washington.  A random-digit-dial phone survey of approximately 1,400 residents was conducted to gauge local views about social change and the coastal environment.  Survey results showed marked differences in how respondents perceive alternative uses of marine resources, ocean environmental problems, and the threat of climate change.  Respondents’ level of education, county of residence, and political party affiliation significantly predicted individual views.  Respondents were also asked about the role that science and the needs of resource users should play when addressing marine-related concerns.  Patterns emerging from these data show distinct differences in the way segments of the Downeast Maine population view the use of marine resources, environmental threats, as well as the management of the ocean environment.  These results highlight both challenges and opportunities for practitioners as they attempt to engage communities in the management of marine resources as well as address the human and ecological effects from climate change and other environmental threats. 


Environmental Factors Affecting the Occurrence and Concentrations of Pathogenic Vibros in the Great Bay Estuary

Steve Jones, Cheryl Whistler and Vaughn Cooper   University of New Hampshire

The potential effects of global warming on the incidence of shellfish-borne disease in the Gulf of Maine (GOM) are an emerging public health concern because of pathogenic indigenous bacteria like Vibrio vulnificus (Vv) and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp). Shellfish programs are now required to monitor environmental conditions that are conducive to vibrio growth (water temperature above 81°F) because their occurrence and concentrations, and the incidence of vibrio-related disease, are significantly higher in warm water, like in the Gulf of Mexico. Because these species are present as both virulent and non-virulent strains in estuarine environments, there is a concern that warming water temperatures in GOM estuaries will increase the occurrence of virulent strains and shellfish risk. In previous studies in the Great Bay Estuary (GBE) Vv and Vp were non-detectable in oysters and water from December to May, with an increase in incidence and concentrations during summer before declining in the fall. These studies established temperature and some environmental conditions as significant factors in the incidence and concentrations of Vv and Vp, but the detection methods did not differentiate virulent from non-virulent strains.

In our most recent (2007-2010) studies we employed molecular methods (PCR, qPCR) to detect, enumerate, and discriminate the virulence potential of Vv and Vp in oysters, water and sediments in GBE. Sites included approved and prohibited sites in GBE and the Oyster and Piscataqua rivers. Vp was detected from April into January and Vv from June into September. Water temperature and dissolved oxygen concentration, though not salinity or turbidity, were significantly correlated with Vp concentrations. The incidence of Vv was much less frequent and it was detected over a shorter time period compared to earlier (1993-95) studies. The concentrations of Vp were relatively high and persisted longer in sediments and oysters than in water. No Vp strains harboring clinical markers were ever detected in freshly harvested oysters, sediments and water, although they were detected after temperature abuse of oysters harvested in August 2009. These results confirm public health concerns related to Vibrios and expected climate changes in the Gulf of Maine.


Current Climate Change Research Projects at the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Steve J. Miller  Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve NH

The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR) goal is a sustainable Great Bay Ecosystem. GBNERR does this by conducting research, developing and implementing stewardship programs, and through education for schools, families, and decision makers through the Coastal Training Program. GBNERR is currently involved with several climate change research projects. These include the Cooperative Institute for Coastal & Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET) funded study Assessing the Risk of 100-year Freshwater Floods in the Lamprey River Watershed of New Hampshire Resulting from Changes in Climate and Land Use; the NH Charitable Foundation funded project to write a Regional Climate Assessment Report: Climate Change in the Great Bay Watershed that will focuses on four themes—1) land conservation and stewardship, 2) water quality, 3) habitats and biological communities, and 4) climate change impacts and adaptation; the NERRS Science Collaborative funded project Nitrogen Sources and Transport Pathways in the Great Bay Estuarine Ecosystem and the Application of this Research to Reduce Nitrogen Loads in Great Bay which has some climate change implications; and the GBNERR/NHFG project to establish a long term monitoring program to track changes in salt marsh vegetation as it relates to sea level rise and habitat migration. The Reserve is also the lead agency in the formation of the NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup. The purpose of NHCAW is to bring together NH coastal stakeholders with interest in or responsibilities for organizational, municipal, or state level coastal adaption planning. Each of these projects will be describe, including goals and objectives, projected completion dates and how participants can receive the results of the work once completed.


Environmental Forcing of American Lobster (Homarus americanus) Settlement in inshore nursery grounds: Role of temperature and wind

Jaini, Mahima1; Wahle, Richard1; Thomas, Andrew1; Lawton, Peter21University of Maine, School of Marine Sciences, Orono, ME,  2Department of Fisheries and Oceans, St. Andrews, NB, E5B 1A8, Canada.


Annual surveys of American lobster (Homarus americanus) in New England and Atlantic Canada conducted at the end of the larval settlement season, have given rise to over 20 years of data on the annual recruitment of young-of-year (YoY) lobsters to inshore cobble nursery grounds. Time series from the oceanographically contrasting regions of Rhode Island, Midcoast Maine and Beaver Harbour, New Brunswick reveal considerable interannual variability, suggesting the role of environmental factors in regulating lobster larval supply and transport during the planktonic stages of development. This is a progress report on a NASA-supported study evaluating statistical correlations between lobster YoY settlement and various physical environmental data sets from satellites, data buoys and weather stations. YoY indices were correlated with environmental indices (such as Sea Surface Temperature anomalies (SSTa)) for the month of settlement sampling as well as prior months when larvae hatch and are transported by ocean circulation. To date our analysis identifies areas of the sea surface that may be oceanographic predictors of variability in lobster larval settlement. Subsequent analyses will investigate correlations of YoY indices with monthly alongshore and cross-shore wind stress measures that will be derived from buoy and island weather station daily wind data. In addition to these analyses, we will also test the role of freshwater influx into coastal areas in regulating lobster settlement as it may affect circulation and larval transport. The results of this work will contribute to the application of environmental data in a coupled biophysical model of lobster larval transport and population connectivity.



Sustaining Quality of Place in the Saco River Estuary Understanding Stakeholder Roles, Values and Concerns

Christine B. Feurt and Lindsay Kelly  University of New England & Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve


The Saco River watershed is the largest watershed in southern Maine, encompassing more than 1,500 square miles. The estuarine portion of the river includes a variety of coastal habitats, including rocky intertidal, sandy beaches, mudflats and salt marshes. Coastal development, increasing population density, changing land use and climate change play a role in determining the ecological health and long term sustainability of qualities of the Saco River estuary that are important to the people who live, work and play in the region. As part of a five year study, an interdisciplinary team of student and faculty researchers at the University of New England working in partnership with the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve are interested in understanding how the physical attributes of the watershed such as flow of pollutants and nutrients and land use in the region interact to affect the plants and animals using the estuary. Improving land use policy and decision-making by developing locally relevant indicators that connect estuarine ecological health with quality of place attributes deemed important by local stakeholders is one goal of the project.


This paper reports  results from the first year of social science research using the Collaborative Learning approach to develop and evaluate communication strategies that engaged researchers and stakeholders in dialogues about ecological indicators, valued attributes of the estuary, perceived threats and current management challenges. Employing a suite of qualitative methods, student and faculty researchers conducted a stakeholder assessment that identified and engaged people from more than thirty community, governmental and non-governmental organizations in Collaborative Learning activities focusing on the Saco Estuary. The assessment identified important qualities of place connected to ecological health, areas of concern for sustaining the Saco and the range and scope of an existing stewardship network actively engaged in the region. Researcher and stakeholder interactions and community dialogues will continue to build shared understanding and facilitate an ecosystem approach to land use decision-making that looks holistically at economic, ecological and social factors that interact to affect the ecological health of the estuary and locally valued qualities of place.


Impacts of climate change on the subarctic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, in the Gulf of Maine: is it in hot water?

Jeffrey A. Runge1,  Frederic Maps1,  Andrew Leising2, Andrew J. Pershing1,  James J. Pierson3 David G. Kimmel4,  

1  School of Marine Sciences, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, University of Maine, Portland, 2  Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, Pacific Grove, CA,. 3  Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Cambridge,MD,  4  Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC


The planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, resides at the southern edge of its subarctic range in the Gulf of Maine, where it is a prominent component of the zooplankton community. It is adapted to survive seasonal periods of low food by producing a lipid-rich, dormant preadult stage in summer, which in higher latitudes overwinters and molts to the reproductive adult stage in time to take advantage of the winter-spring bloom in the subsequent year. Using demographic time series data from the Gulf of Maine and an individual-based population dynamics model, we present the case that temperatures in the Gulf of Maine are too warm to allow C. finmarchicus to overwinter for such an extended period. Instead, many "overwintering" individuals must, for metabolic reasons, break out of dormancy in late summer to late fall, at which time they produce a fall generation that contributes to sustaining the Calanus stock in the region.  We present alternate scenarios of consequences of climate change on the regional population. One source of forcing is the alternation between intrusion into the deep Gulf of colder Labrador Subarctic Slope  Water and warmer Atlantic Slope Water, influencing duration of dormancy. Another source of forcing is the warming of surface temperatures in late summer, influencing the capacity of Calanus to produce a fall generation. Substantial reduction in abundance or disappearance  of  C. finmarchicus from the region would arguably have serious repercussions for the distribution, condition and population numbers of forage species such as sand lance, herring and mackerel, as well as northern right whales, that seasonally feed heavily on lipid- rich Calanus stages along the coastal shelf, banks and ledges of the Gulf.



Modeling copepod populations in the Gulf of Maine: building prediction capability through a process-oriented approach
Rubao Ji1, Cabell Davis1, Christoph Stegert1   1Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MS #33,  Redfield 2-14, Woods Hole, MA


Zooplankton are sensitive to climate change and may amplify subtle environmental signals due to their non-linear responses to environment forcing. It is critically important to understand the underlying biological-physical mechanisms that control the variability of zooplankton populations, such that the predictions on how the climate change might affect plankton and higher trophic levels become possible.  In this study, we use a coupled hydrodynamics/food-web/population-dynamics model to identify the key processes controlling the observed seasonality and distributional patterns of key copepod populations in the Gulf of Maine region including Pseudocalanus spp., Centropages typicus, and Calanus finmarchicus. The importance of life history traits (e.g. development, reproduction, mortality, diel and seasonal migration) vs. physical processes (e.g. advection and diffusion) will be examined. The implication of this modeling study on data-need, observing system design, and climate change scenario testing will also be discussed. Environmental Monitors on Lobster Trap Project's First Decade


Environmental Monitors on Lobster Trap Project’s First Decade

Jim Manning, NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, MA


Dozens of New England lobstermen have been recording hourly bottom temperatures on their traps since 2001.  The web-served data from various fixed locations and depths around the Gulf of Maine now allow investigators to examine processes at a variety time scales ranging from semi-diurnal to inter-annual.  Given the cost effectiveness of the operation and the enthusiastic cooperation of the participants, it should be possible to maintain the program and investigate multi-year climatic scale cycles in the future.


Several examples of processes apparently occurring at different time scales will be described including wind-induced turnovers, lunar cycles, and the longer term trend. The question of just how warm it  has been in recent months compared to the last 10 years, for example,  can be quantified and compared to other warm years (2002 and 2006).  Efforts to use this data to help validate numerical models will also be discussed.



Climate change vulnerability assessments in support of management adaptation planning for the salt marshes of Massachusetts Bays

Amanda L. Babson1, Jordan M. West1, and Jay Baker2. (1) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (2) Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program


We present the results of a novel method for assessing key vulnerabilities of Massachusetts Bays salt marshes to climate change impacts, as part of EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program. The assessment used an expert elicitation approach to evaluate climate change vulnerabilities of two key salt marsh ecosystem processes - sediment retention and plant/bird community interactions. Expert elicitation is a process for obtaining the judgments of experts to characterize uncertainty and fill data gaps where traditional scientific research is not feasible or data are not yet available. For each ecosystem process, a group of experts developed an influence diagram modeling the relationships among key anthropogenic stressors and physical and ecological variables that regulate marsh processes. They then characterized the type and degree of these influences, their sensitivity to change, and the relative importance of the influences to the ecosystem process endpoints. Some influences were identified as increasing in importance under two future climate scenarios, while other influences increased in sensitivity. Based on these changes, key pathways in the influence diagram, which offer opportunities for management adaptation, are identified.  For the community interactions group, the endpoint of concern was saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow habitat. One key pathway begins with the influence of nitrogen on the ratio of native high marsh to invasive Phragmites. This influence was characterized as increasing in importance in the climate scenarios. This composition of grasses in turn affects marsh elevation, which is an influence on the endpoint that was found to increase in sensitivity. For the sediment retention group, the endpoint of concern was the balance between accretion and erosion. The influence of marsh edge erosion on this endpoint was identified as increasing in importance and a likely threshold under future climate scenarios, whereby the extent of erosion could reach a tipping point leading to rapid marsh collapse. Resulting management conclusions include: 1) focus management priorities on influences that are well understood and become more sensitive and/or important under future climate scenarios, 2) recognize the ability of marshes to restore themselves under the right conditions, and 3) conduct multi-habitat restoration.




Poster Session


Climate Change and Northern Shrimp in the Gulf of Maine

Anne Richards, Maureen Taylor, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, MA

Jay O’Reilly,  Kimberly Hyde, Northeast Fisheries Science Center Narragansett, RI


Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) in the Gulf of Maine occur primarily in the relatively cold western portion of the Gulf. Water temperature during the larval period appears to be important in determining recruitment strength of northern shrimp; warmer temperatures are related to poorer early life survival. However, despite a warming trend in nearshore shrimp nursery areas over the past quarter century, some of the largest shrimp yearclasses on record have been produced in recent years. A possible explanation relates to shifts over time in the relationship between shrimp hatch timing and timing of the phytoplankton blooms which provide food for the shrimp larvae. Shrimp hatch timing is strongly related to temperature while timing of the bloom in coastal areas is more strongly tied to light. We examine these relationships and relate them to shrimp yearclass survival estimates from fishery-independent survey data. The loose coupling between processes determining the timing of the shrimp hatch and the evolution of their food source suggests that shrimp recruitment may become increasingly variable under climate-induced warming of the Gulf of Maine.


The Northern Extent of the Saco River Plume and Its Interaction with the Gulf of Maine Coastal Currents

Barbara Fortier and Dr. Charles E. Tilburg, University of New England, Biddeford, ME

This study focuses on the buoyant, freshwater discharge plume from the Saco River, the 6th largest river emptying into the Gulf of Maine, with a drainage basin of 4410 km2 and an annual average discharge rate of 77m3s-1.

River discharge produces highly stratified, buoyant, freshwater plumes that can extend over expansive areas and can affect transport and mixing for large distances downstream.  Biological processes in the coastal ocean are closely coupled to the dynamics of freshwater plumes, so understanding how they change under various conditions is important. This study’s purpose is to determine what variables (high precipitation/discharge, wind stress, tidal phase, and/or interaction with coastal currents) affect the plume’s spatial extent, vertically and horizontally, specifically north of the river mouth on the upshelf edge of the plume.  This is important because the Gulf of Maine is home to many commercially-important fisheries.  Since changes in salinity can be harmful to some marine organisms, it is likely that changes within the plume have implications on the local environment and coastal habitats. 

To conduct this research, data is collected once a week by manually deploying a thermosalinograph to record surface salinity and a CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) instrument to collect subsurface data from the University of New England research vessel Llyr.  To remotely collect data, two buoys are located north of the Saco River mouth with a Seabird 37 CT meter.  Saco River discharge values are obtained daily from the USGS gauge at Cornish, ME, and wind data is obtained from instruments installed on NOAA buoy 44007 in Casco Bay.  This data is analyzed to look for patterns and changes in the plume under various conditions, such as tidal phase, wind stress, and river discharge rates. 

Preliminary results indicate precipitation and winds have the greatest effect on the plume.  Higher discharge rates and southwesterly winds thin the plume and advect it offshore, while lower discharge and northeasterly winds deepen the plume and push it back towards the river mouth.  It is important to understand the role that this river plume plays in the biological processes within the coastal environment.


From Science to Policy Making: Investigating the Use and Influence of Marine Environmental Grey Literature

Bertrum H. MacDonald,1 Peter G. Wells,2 Suzuette S. Soomai,3 Danielle M. Cossarini,1 Ruth E. Cordes,4 and Gregory R.G. Hutton1
School of Information Management, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS

2School for Resource and Environmental Studies and Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS

3 Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS  4 Independent Information Consultant, Halifax, NS


Publication of grey literature has grown extensively because it is readily facilitated by widely accessible digital technologies. Annually, thousands of publications are generated worldwide often as grey literature. However, distribution and access to these publications can be problematic, even in the presence of open access systems, the Internet, and powerful search engines. Are the extensive resources (upwards of $1 million per title) devoted to the production of such publications justified? This question is particularly significant in environmental contexts where decisions affecting the fate and future of terrestrial and marine-based ecosystems could and should be informed by currently available scientific information. This poster outlines the framework and objectives of a research initiative being pursued by the authors. Using major case studies of governmental and intergovernmental organizations focused on marine environmental protection, the initiative is investigating several questions including: What evidence, if any, exists to confirm the use and influence of scientific grey literature? What characterizes the flow and barriers of information published as grey literature? In policy decision-making contexts are research reports published as grey literature perceived differently than research published as papers in scientific journals (even when grey literature may undergo similar quality checks as journal papers)? And, how should information and publications be designed for effective discovery and ultimately for impact? Through use of a suite of research methodologies (citation analysis, content analysis of public policy documents, interviews of key informants in public sector management, and surveys), a comprehensive understanding of information and knowledge diffusion and use in public sector settings is being developed. This research is of importance to many environmental organizations that communicate with audiences through grey literature.


Accessing the Gulf of Maine's wealth of climate change data

Christine M. Tilburg 1, Susan Russell-Robinson 2, and Kathryn Parlee3

1 Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, Buxton, Maine. 2 U.S. Department of the Interior, Reston, Virginia. 

3 Environment Canada, Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Climate variables have been measured in the Gulf of Maine and its watershed for over one hundred years. However, managers looking for a quick answer to scientific questions rarely have the time to download and analyze data from the various US and Canadian sources. Consequently, as part of the Gulf of Maine Council's Ecosystem Indicator Partnership (ESIP), a webtool was devised that allows users to quickly and easily look at data for air temperature, precipitation and sea level rise alongside other ecosystem indicators. The Indicator Reporting Tool (www2.gulfofmaine.org/esip/reporting) is the result of several years worth of effort and user input. Managers can locate data in the region using the mapping capabilities and build graphs for the time periods of interest. Snapshots such as those provided by the tool can provide critical information in a timely fashion for those faced with making decisions quickly and provide critical baseline information for use with adaptation efforts.


Climate Change and the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS)

J. Ru Morrison (Executive Director, NERACOOS) and others


NERACOOS is one of eleven regional associations in the United States charged with developing the coastal component of the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).  NERACOOS seeks 1) to lead the development, implementation, operation, and evaluation of a sustained, regional coastal ocean observing system for the northeast United States and Canadian Maritime provinces, as part of the United States Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), 2) to promote the development, assessment, and dissemination of data and data products that meet the needs of end users, and 3) to advocate through education and outreach for the regional, national, and global ocean observing system and the application of scientific assessments using environmental data to meet societal needs. 

Climate Change is cross-cutting problem that permeates all of NERACOOS’ themes whether it is Coastal and Ocean Ecosystem Health, Ocean Energy Planning and Management, Coastal Hazards Resiliency, or Maritime Operations.  A summary of NERACOOS observing and modeling systems will be presented as well as how they will be applied to climate change issues identified by the 2010 New England-Canadian Maritime Collaboration and Planning Initiative.  This initiative involved twelve regional organizations in a collaborative effort in part to develop a consensus on the region’s most pressing issues and joint policy, planning and management implementation responses as well as thoughtful and sustained interaction among organizations.


Towards understanding climate variability in the Gulf of Maine region over the past millennium

Karl Kreutz1, Alan Wanamaker2, Douglas Introne1 1Climate Change Institute and Department of Earth Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine  2Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University,


Reconstructing and understanding the spatiotemporal patterns of late Holocene climate variability remains a fundamental challenge in paleoclimatology, particularly with respect to coupled ocean/atmosphere systems affecting the Arctic such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).  Recent results from a compilation of lake sediment and ice core data have demonstrated a long term Arctic cooling over the past 2000 years, however significant spatial variability exists related to regional-scale processes.  In the North Atlantic, we are tackling this problem using the long-lived bivalve mollusk Arctica islandica, and have demonstrated cooling in the Gulf of Maine over the past 1000 years related to coupled changes in the NAO, Labrador current, Gulf Stream, and Atlantic meridional overturning circulation.  We are refining this work by developing a continuous annually dated master shell chronology spanning the last 1000 years, and using shell growth history, geochemistry (stable isotopes, radiocarbon), and relevant instrumental data in the Gulf of Maine to address the mechanisms responsible for the Medieval Climate Anomaly/Little Ice Age transition in the mid- and high-latitude Northern Hemisphere.  Here we present results from a June 2010 sampling trip in the Gulf of Maine, and discuss possible implications for understanding the impact of climate variability on Atlantic salmon and other fisheries stocks over the past millennium.



Diadromous Species Response to Climate Change: a literature review summarizing impacts of climate change on diadromous fish in the Gulf of Maine.

Barbara S. Arter, University of Maine Diadromous Species Restoration Research Network and Mathew Dietert, University of Maine, Graduate Student


The Diadromous Species Restoration Research Network is a five-year initiative funded by the National Science Foundation to advance the science of diadromous fish restoration and promote state-of-the-art scientific approaches to multiple-species restoration through workshops, conferences, web sharing, and journal publications. The Network is a joint project of the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental & Watershed Research. This poster presents a literature review exploring the impacts of climate change on diadromous species.

Historically, diadromous fish contributed to the sustenance and economic growth of the Atlantic states and Canadian Maritime Provinces. However, since the industrial revolution, the tolls of environmental stress, overfishing, and habitat loss have reduced many of these populations. Although there is now a popular drive to remove dams in the hopes reintroducing and rehabilitating fish runs, the most recent challenges faced by diadromous fish is global climate change and the subsequent changes in physical habitat and range shifts for diadromous and competitive species.

The impacts of climate change on a species that spends juvenile stages in freshwater and adulthood at sea are far-reaching. For example, climate change is expected to shift species ranges to their northern limits and to have a strong influence on species distributions.  Studies indicate that many species lose suitable habitat and therefore shift their range when confronted with changes in water temperature and precipitation. Winter flows are very likely to be enhanced and summer flows reduced, thereby enhancing overwintering conditions but reducing the amount of summer refugia.  Spring, summer, and fall low flows may also create out-migration barriers for smolts and in-migration barriers for spawning adults.  Changes in spring precipitation and flow regime may also cause acid pulses that hinder the smoltification process. Warmer winter conditions are projected to cause an increase in growing season and freshwater productivity possibly resulting in a reduction in anadromy in facultative anadromous species since there would be no need to seek productivity at sea. 


Compiling a long-term data set based on student intertidal transect surveys at the Shoals Marine Lab, Appledore Island, ME

Meg M. Eastwood, Kipp Quinby, and Hal Weeks Shoals Marine Lab


Long term data describing organism distribution and abundance are valuable in assessing changes due to any number of factors, including but not limited to climate patterns, isolated or chronic disturbance events, ecological interactions, and establishment of invasive species. Establishing ecological baselines now may be critical to understanding these changes, but long-term data sets are rare due to the inherent difficulties involved with funding and maintaining such projects. The Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) has accumulated over twenty-five years of data from student transect surveys that detail the distribution and abundance of organisms in both exposed and protected rocky intertidal habitats on Appledore Island in the Gulf of Maine. SML uses the transect studies to teach research methods and focus student observations in the field; we hope that compiling the survey data will allow us to track and document changes around Appledore Island and provide a long-term dataset with baseline information to the broader scientific community. We present here a selection of data from the much greater, ongoing collection to illustrate its potential.