- Scientific capabilities. Scientific capabilities to estimate, project, model and monitor the impacts of climate change are just emerging. To understand these anticipated and potential impacts, we must define our science and data needs at scales appropriate for the Chesapeake Bay. Data availability and accessibility at multiple scales is necessary, as is a better understanding of the methods, models and tools required to assess impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation and management priorities.
- Watershed variability. The impacts of climate change will vary across the watershed. This variability poses challenges to data consistency and comparability across regions and sectors. It also requires different approaches to science and adaptation.
- Monitoring complexity. Developing a long-term monitoring program to detect ecosystem change and inform program and project response will be a complex undertaking. There are clear budgetary challenges associated with such work.
- Non-climate stressors. The impacts of climate change are difficult to monitor and assess because they can be exacerbated by non-climate or human-induced stressors (e.g., land subsidence, land use change, growth and development). An increased understanding of the interactions between climate change impacts and the impacts of other stressors is needed.
Institutional Capacity and Stakeholder Response
- Institutional capacity. Institutions often lack the capacity to understand climate science and incorporate meaningful change into plans, programs, processes and projects. Building that capacity can be time-consuming and costly, especially in the face of resource constraints.
- Available guidance. Given the recent emergence of climate change as an issue, there is a lack of clear science (models, tools and metrics) and guidance to use in developing plans or measuring efficacy of response. The nature of on-the-ground implementation often requires certainties (e.g., temperature, precipitation, coastal erosion rates) that are not yet available for a changing climate.
- Stakeholder engagement. While stakeholders have acknowledged that climate change and adaptation must be addressed, there is a lack of understanding or agreement among them on what it means to be resilient or what constitutes resiliency. The lack of appropriate stakeholder engagement can hinder the acceptance of choices made about action plans and implementation strategies.
- Stakeholder collaboration. There is a lack of collaboration and coordination among stakeholders addressing climate science and adaptation. There is also variability in institutional responses and the capacity to respond.
Factors Influencing Progress
Several factors could impact our ability to monitor and assess the trends and likely impacts of changing climatic conditions on the Chesapeake Bay. These factors have directly informed the management actions our partners will take to achieve the Climate Monitoring and Assessment outcome.