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.

Management Strategy

To achieve this outcome, Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to:

  • Defining goals and establishing baselines for the monitoring, modeling and assessment of different aspects of climate change;
  • Identifying and prioritizing gaps in available assessment tools, scientific understanding and baseline monitoring;
  • Developing a conceptual climate monitoring, modeling and assessment model;
  • Designing climate monitoring and modeling plans;
  • Assessing climatic trends, documenting observed changes and conducting climate vulnerability assessments of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem;
  • Developing a research agenda; and
  • Reassessing priorities and revising goals.

Monitoring and assessing progress toward the outcome will occur through a suite of environmental indicators that will be selected by our partners and stakeholders.

As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s partnership-wide implementation of adaptive management, progress toward this outcome will be reviewed and discussed by the Management Board in August of 2018.

Work Plan

Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to taking a series of specific actions that will support the management approaches listed above.

Participating Partners

The Climate Resiliency Workgroup leads the effort to achieve this outcome. It works in partnership with the Sustainable Fisheries, Habitat, Water Quality and Healthy Watersheds goal implementation teams.

Participating partners include:

  • State of Delaware
  • University of Maryland (State of Maryland)
  • Bucknell University (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
  • Penn State University (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
  • Christopher Newport University (Commonwealth of Virginia)
  • Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (Commonwealth of Virginia)
  • Institute of Marine Science (Commonwealth of Virginia)
  • Old Dominion University (Commonwealth of Virginia)
  • Polytechnic Institute and State University (Commonwealth of Virginia)
  • State of West Virginia
  • District of Columbia
  • The Chesapeake Bay Commission
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Chesapeake Bay Journal
  • Chesapeake Research Consortium
  • The Conservation Fund
  • Maryland Sea Grant
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Sierra Club
  • Wetlands Watch