The Chesapeake Bay is one of the most vulnerable regions in the nation to the impacts of climate change. As part of our work toward this outcome, the Chesapeake Bay Program is considering the development or adoption of up to 14 indicators to track the impacts of climate change on environmental, ecological and social conditions.
Our indicators of climate change’s impact on the physical environment may include:
- Average annual air temperatures and hot temperature extremes;
- Changes in the temperature of streams;
- Changes in the surface temperature of the Bay;
- Changes in the acidity of the Bay and its tidal tributaries;
- Total annual precipitation and extreme precipitation events; and
- Sea level change relative to the shore.
Our indicators that will primarily measure climate change’s impact on ecological conditions may include:
- The abundance of harmful algal blooms;
- The spatial extent and ability of wetlands to act as a physical buffer;
- The spatial distribution of select, climate-sensitive bird species;
- The spatial distribution of select, climate-sensitive fish species; and
- The community composition of underwater grasses in the Chesapeake Bay.
Our indicators that will primarily measure climate change’s impact on social conditions may include:
- Average annual flooding events in four coastal cities;
- Trends in the magnitude and frequency of upstream floods; and
- The extent of developed land that is located within a floodplain or storm surge risk zone and the estimated property damage caused by flooding and storm events.
In 2018, Eastern Research Group, Inc., (ERG) worked with the Chesapeake Bay Program to develop an implementation strategy that defines and describes the steps and resources needed to create each indicator in this proposed suite. As partnership priorities evolve and new sources and methods of analyzing data emerge, the Chesapeake Bay Program may choose to change its course or implement certain indicators from this suite. The ultimate development of these indicators will depend on the quality of supporting data, the added value of the indicators in question and the priorities and resources of the Climate Resiliency Workgroup.