Monitoring and Assessment Factors
- Scientific capabilities. The scientific capabilities to estimate, project, model and monitor ecosystem changes and impacts as a result of climate change are complex and resource intensive. Additionally, impacts are exacerbated by non-climate stressors (e.g., land-subsidence, land use change, growth and development). Appropriate science and modeling of climate and non-climate related stressors are necessary for Chesapeake Bay Program partners to properly address climate impacts during policy planning and adaptation efforts.
- Geographic extent and variability of the watershed. The impacts of climate change will be varied across the watershed. It is important to not limit the focus of the management strategy to coastal issues alone but to recognize the wide range of monitoring, assessment and adaptation needs throughout the region. However, the variability of the ecosystem within the Bay proper and the larger watershed presents challenges in data consistency and comparability among regions and sectors.
- Complexity of the monitoring program. A monitoring program to detect ecosystem change and inform program and project response is a complex undertaking. Developing an acceptable monitoring approach for the watershed will be complex, and there are clear budgetary challenges associated with such long-term monitoring.
- Stakeholder engagement. Although there is acknowledgement that climate change and adaptation need to be addressed, there is a lack of understanding or agreement from stakeholders on what constitutes resiliency, including what kind of actions support an adaptive management approach. Lack of appropriate stakeholder engagement jeopardizes acceptance of choices made about action plans and implementation strategies, introducing additional levels of social discord in an already complex environmental economic-social landscape. There are also different types of stakeholders, and in many cases, they have different goals, making it challenging to have adequate resources to facilitate meaningful connections across all stakeholder groups.
- Capacity. There is a general lack of capacity to fill research gaps and translate the science and incorporate meaningful change into plans, programs, processes or projects across the entire Bay Program. Although building that capacity is paramount, it can be time consuming and costly, considering the resource constraints faced by governments and organizations as well as the variability in adaptation approaches.
- Authority. Governments’ and institutions’ ability to respond to climate change is limited by legislative, policy, regulatory and other authorities.
- Guidance. There is a need to translate existing science into guidance for the Bay Program, as well as stakeholders, for use in developing adaptation plans and measuring the efficacy of response to climate change impacts. The nature of on-the-ground implementation often requires a level of certainty or methods to address uncertainty related to climate change effects on key factors (e.g., hydrology, water quality, temperature, precipitation, sea level rise, coastal erosion rates). Additionally, there is variability in institutional responses on how to address climate change impacts, making it challenging to develop guidance that can be applied consistently across all watershed jurisdictions.
- Collaboration. The many diverse stakeholders and organizations that make up the Bay Program are a strength, but also cause collaboration challenges that must be addressed in order to maximize resources and provide strategic adaptation approaches across the watershed.