Paper No. 54-10
Presentation Time: 3:55 PM
CHESAPEAKE BAY CLIMATE EXTREMES AND VARIABILITY: A RECENT PAST, PRESENT, AND NEAR FUTURE ANALYSIS
The iconic Chesapeake Bay is an important source of income (fishing, tourism, etc.) and recreational enjoyment for many residents within its expansive watershed. Thus, it is important to assess how climate variability and change will affect Chesapeake Bay’s shallow water ecosystems and water quality. From an ecological standpoint, extreme climate variability is often more pertinent to the physiological thresholds and environmental boundaries of specific organisms and are often well correlated to major water quality parameters including dissolved oxygen and turbidity. In this study, we calculated the 26 extreme climate indices, defined by the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices, which determines the absolute intensity, duration, and frequency of temperature- and precipitation-based events. Our goals were to 1) reconstruct extreme climate changes from the recent past (1894-2014), 2) establish a present day baseline, 3) link these meteorological changes to the near-shore aquatic environment, 4) and use this historically-referenced data to assess an ensemble of near-future global climate change model projections. To achieve this, we utilized three different meteorological data products: two area-weighted gridded products, 18 individual daily weather stations, and high frequency data from the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves. Notable changes we observed include an overall decrease in cold events, such as a decrease in the number of Frost Days and a higher probability to have a year without a cold spell, and an increase in the number of wet days for the gridded and Northern weather station data. These extreme climate changes were strongly correlated to streamflow (Susquehanna, James, and Potomac), water temperature, and dissolved oxygen concentrations, among others. Analyses, such as this study, will enhance our general understanding of historical and future extreme climate variability, allowing policy-makers to make better-informed decisions for coastal communities.