A Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and University of Connecticut Partnership
Long Island Sound Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change Program

Climate Change Work Groups


Connecticut and New York technical advisory work groups (Appendix C) worked independently on developing specific recommendations for climate change indicators, but consistently communicated through the state leads. NY and CT Sea Grants were funded to assist in the development of state-specific recommendations as well as work with the bi-state technical work group (Appendix D) to bring together the final bi-state strategy that allows flexibility as to how each state implements elements of that strategy. NY developed an exhaustive table of indicators, while CT work group members developed an extensive list of climate drivers which led to indicator development (Appendices E, F and G). The bi-state work group was formed to coordinate the state-level efforts and was comprised of state leads, Sea Grant representatives and EPA staff. The two states’ indicator lists were then compared and later synthesized into theLong Island Sound Matrix of Climate Change Sentinels (Appendix H).

During the first year of development (2008 – 2009), the Long Island Sound Study’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee had two graduate fellows, Santiago Salinas in New York and Mark Hoover in Connecticut, who completed projects in conjunction with the Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change in Long Island Sound Program. Fellows attended their state’s technical work group meetings (described below). They also completed a research white paper (Appendix I) aimed at guiding development based on similar monitoring in different estuaries around the world. Santiago developed a Google Earth *kmz file (LISSdata.kmz) that maps current monitoring stations in Long Island Sound. He also recommended performing a statistical analysis of sentinels selected for the pilot program before the actual monitoring was begun so as to determine the necessary replicate number.

Connecticut Work Group

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CTDEP) and the University of Connecticut (UConn) assembled a group of Connecticut and regional experts in January 2008 to begin discussion of climate change in Long Island Sound. Other scientists and resource managers joined this group (Appendix C), forming the CT technical work group.

During 2008, CT DEP worked with scientists and managers to develop an on-line database of current and historical monitoring efforts in LIS and, through the work group, identified three subregions within the Sound, each to have monitoring tailored to subregional needs. Again, the SMCCP was originally conceived as a “site” based program. Additionally, six climate change drivers were identified with questions developed for each driver category. Following discussions with the work groups, the decision was made to focus on these drivers and indicators, with site selection based on priority indicators/sentinels. The CT work group recognized early on the importance of defining a sentinel and its key attributes. Following consensus within the work group on the definition and attributes of a sentinel, the group focused on determining the major questions that the SMCCP should answer (Appendix E). These attributes and questions formed the basis for the CT work group to move forward with the development of a list of candidate sentinels for LIS. This list was then integrated with the products of the NY work group.

New York Work Group

NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) assembled a group of New York experts (Appendix C) in February 2009, forming the NY technical work group. Meetings were held, on average, once per month until June 2010. At that point in time, the bi-state work group (described below) took the recommendations of both state work groups and began combining them into a cohesive strategy.

The NY technical work group took the approach of generating a list of all potential sentinels for consideration by the program and then held a series of discussions to narrow the list. They grouped potential sentinels into three categories: changes in physical/chemical parameters, changes in community structure, and changes in existing habitat, creating a matrix of climate change sentinels for Long Island Sound (See Appendix F for the New York Technical Work Group Discussions and Appendix G for the NY matrix). The NY group developed a ranking system in an effort to choose indicators for a pilot program (Appendix F). Eventually, the bi-state work group used this framework to develop their own ranking approach.

sidebar imageThe ideal list of attributes for sentinels, developed by the CT work group, was discussed by the NY work group and vetted between the two states until a common definition and criterion list was decided upon. These desired attributes served as a way to whittle down the list of potential sentinels. All sentinels identified in the matrix (Appendix H) are still recommended in the long term monitoring program, though many have been deemed inappropriate for a pilot program because there is a reduced likelihood of detecting a climate change signal in these sentinels in the short-term. Both state work groups provided input on narrowing the complete list of sentinels down to a pilot-scale program through an on line survey described below.

The bi-state work group eventually melded CT and NY products into a single matrix of climate drivers, candidate sentinels, and existing monitoring (Appendix H). NY’s discussion of this matrix is available in Appendix F.

Bi-state Work Group

The Sentinel SMCCP bi-state work group formed in April 2009 during the preparation of a successful proposal to EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries (CRE) program. The bi-state work group coordinated efforts between states to develop a strategy beginning in the summer of 2009. The bi-state work group met frequently (two or more times per month) via teleconference and the work group members were in constant electronic contact through email and online documents. The functions of the bi-state work group were to use the technical work group discussions as the basis to achieve consensus for the strategic plan development, set the stage to plan and implement a pilot study, conduct outreach about LIS sentinel monitoring for climate change coordination, and serve as liaison to the LISS Management Committee. Some of the bi-state work group’s accomplishments include successful surveys of experts, an implementable list of pilot-specific indicators, grant awards, presentations both to the LISS and at national conferences, and this strategic plan. The timeline and milestones for this program are detailed in Appendix J.

EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program

During the spring of 2009, the bi-state work group applied for and received a technical assistance grant through the EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program

( The purpose of the Direct Technical Assistance grant program was “to accelerate efforts already underway to develop and implement climate adaptation plans”. This program provided $75,000 of direct technical assistance in the form of contractors provided by the EPA.

The bi-state work group worked with contractors from ICF International, who provided outside research assistance, resulting in three technical memoranda delivered to the LISS. These documents contained information and recommendations in the following topic areas: a review and synthesis of information on climate change drivers and responses in Long Island Sound; steps to develop a prioritized list of indicators for monitoring climate-driven change; review of monitoring programs and references for developing a monitoring strategy; glossary of common terms; and potential additions to the draft monitoring program already in development.

The memoranda are posted in their original form on the SMCCP website( Additionally, they have served as an important starting point for many of the bi-state work group activities. The review and synthesis of information on climate change drivers and responses in Long Island Sound has been expanded by technical and bi-state work group members and is included as Appendix B of this strategy. The indicator selection flow chart that was developed by ICF was adapted and incorporated in the strategic plan and the bi-state work group’s final version is included above in Chart 1.

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