Outstanding Day of Exploration at Horn Point Laboratory’s Open House

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) welcomed over 650 guests to their annual Open House Saturday, October 14.  Free and open to the public, people of all ages explored over 15 hands on exhibits with Horn Point faculty and graduate students giving visitors the opportunity to experience science in real world situations.  The theme for this year’s event was “Bay Strong: Fighting for a clean environment.” A scavenger hunt introduced kids and parents alike to the “super heroes” of the Chesapeake Bay – oysters, marshes, plankton, and sturgeon,and shared how these heroes help make the Chesapeake Bay a healthier place for all of us.  Children received a free t-shirt for completing the scavenger hunt.

Kids rolled up their sleeves to forage in the Oyster Hatchery’s touch tank, finding baby horseshoe crabs, fish, eels, and crabs among the grasses.  The sturgeon exhibit gave visitors the opportunity to observe these prehistoric fish close up and compare other marine life of the Bay to these prehistoric giants growing up to 14 feet in length.

Visitors to the Open House were able to

  • Build a healthy marsh and learned who are our best partners to protect our shorelines.
  • Create and tag a bag of oyster shells to follow through the restoration projects.
  • Match up a DNA sequence to microscopic creatures important to the food chain.
  • Touch a sturgeon whose ancestors date to the Jurassic period
  • Create changing landscapes in a digital sand box to mimic different shorelines and model weather’s impact with laser imaging.
  • Take a “cell-fie” with the plankton that improves water quality.
  • Play a video game to learn what and how the balance of sediment to sea life is achieved.
  • Model the effects of sea level rise, increasing temperatures, and surge impacts on Baltimore Harbor and regional cities in 2050 and beyond.

“This is the best day of the year for the community to learn about the science of the Bay. Everyone at the lab is on deck to explain their research with activities and displays that make it easy to understand,” said Horn Point Laboratory Director Mike Roman.

From the banks of the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, HPL scientists engage in world-renowned research in oceanography, water quality, restoration of sea grasses, marshes and shellfish, and expertise in ecosystem modeling.

The open house is an annual event geared to all ages.

For more information, visit contact Carin Starr at cstarr@umces.edu, 410-221-8408.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. www.umces.edu

Open House at Horn Point Laboratory October 14

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory invites the public to a free Open House on Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Located along the banks of the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the laboratory is renowned for its study of marine ecosystems.

The theme for this year’s event is “Bay Strong – fighting for a clean environment.” It features exhibits by the laboratory’s scientists of their investigations in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal areas along the Atlantic Coast. This year’s theme will introduce our visitors to the super heroes fighting for a healthier Chesapeake Bay. All Community Open House activities are free and open to the public, and children will receive a free t-shirt.

“This is the best day of the year for the community to learn about the science of the Bay. Everyone at the lab is on deck to explain their research with activities and displays that make it easy to understand,” said Horn Point Laboratory Director Mike Roman.
– Build a healthy marsh and learn who are our best partners in this effort.
– See an animation of the travels of oyster larvae as they move from the reef where they spawned to their new, permanent home reef.
– Match up a DNA sequence to microscopic creatures important to the food chain.
– Touch a sturgeon whose ancestors date to the Jurassic period
– Create different shorelines and model weather’s impact with laser imaging over a sand pit.
– Meet and talk to graduate students about their environmental career goals.
– At the children’s activity booth, create animals that live in the water with thumb print art. Play games that teach fun facts about the Bay. Go on a scavenger hunt through the exhibits to learn how the Bay’s super heroes are fighting for a cleaner environment.

The open house is designed to interest all ages and will take place rain or shine. The Horn Point Laboratory campus is located 2020 Horns Point Road on Route 343 outside of Cambridge, Maryland.

For more information, visit  http://www.umces.edu/hpl/openhouse or contact Carin Starr at cstarr@umces.edu, 410-221-8408.

Part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s statewide network of research centers, the Horn Point Laboratory on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has advanced society’s understanding of the world’s estuarine and ocean ecosystems. Horn Point scientists are world-respected for their interdisciplinary programs in oceanography, water quality, restoration of sea grasses, marshes and shellfish, and investigations of sea level rise and storm surge.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
For 90 years, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) has led the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories spanning from the Allegheny Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, our scientists analyze changes in rivers and streams, monitor air quality, sample fish populations, and assess the impacts of climate change along our coastal communities. We provide sound scientific advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. www.umces.edu

Horn Point Laboratory Breaks Ground on 10-Acre Solar Field with Standard Solar

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Standard Solar marked the beginning of a partnership to bring sustainable energy to the Horn Point Laboratory campus with a groundbreaking ceremony. Standard Solar will install a 10-acre solar field on campus that will generate approximately 50% of the Horn Point Laboratory’s annual energy consumption. UMCES has also received a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration to install four vehicle-charging stations under a new solar canopy on campus.

“Higher education has a key role in shaping a sustainable society. It’s essential that we lead by example,” said UMCES president Don Boesch, who has led the University System of Maryland’s Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Initiative since 2008.

Photo: (L-R): Bill Reddish (Congressman Harris’ office), Melissa Kelly (Senator Van Hollen’s office), Kimberly Kratovil (Senator Cardin’s office), Jeff Miley (Asst. Dir. for Facilities, Horn Point Laboratory), Don Boesch (President, UMCES), Mike Roman (Director, Horn Point Laboratory), Tony Clifford (CDO, Standard Solar), Ray Cho (Director of Facilities, UMCES), Mary Beth Tung (Director, Maryland Energy Administration), Mary Ann Ibeziako, Director of Procurement, University of Maryland College Park).

UMCES signed an agreement this spring with Standard Solar to install the solar field. The 2MW system has an expected approximate annual generation of 3.5 MWh of solar renewable energy. The solar field is expected be in-service by the spring of 2018.

“Investing in renewable energy is a huge win for the State because we are creating jobs, supporting economic growth via electricity bill reduction, and addressing environmental concerns shared by all Marylanders,” said Director Mary Beth Tung, Maryland Energy Administration.

The project is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in which Standard Solar installs and operates the solar panels in exchange for the use of land. UMCES agrees to purchase the equivalent energy being generated over the next 20 years from Standard Solar.

“We applaud UMCES for its renewable initiatives and innovative efforts to achieve their energy-reduction goals,” said Tony Clifford, CDO, Standard Solar. “We look forward to a great partnership with the University and being a part of their very important work to provide information and data to help local and national leaders make better decisions about the environment.”

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is a signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (Second Nature) and has launched several programs aimed at reducing our environmental footprint, including setting goals for reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions at each of our laboratories, upgrading aging infrastructure to newer, more energy-efficient alternatives, and building all new campus buildings to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent.

“The solar field is another example of how we are using innovative ways to manage Horn Point Laboratory in a way that reduces our environmental footprint and engages with the community,” said Mike Roman, director of the Horn Point Laboratory. This project also contributes to increasing Maryland’s in-state distributed electricity generation capacity and reducing the dependency on electricity imported from other states.

UMCES has also been selected to receive a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration’s Solar PV Canopy with EV Charger Grant Program to offset the cost of four level-II electrical vehicle charging stations on campus. Work begins on the project this fall.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. www.umces.edu

STANDARD SOLAR

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Kenny Rose Joins UMCES Faculty as Professor in Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration

Dr. Kenneth A. Rose has joined the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory faculty as its first France-Merrick Foundation Professor in Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration.

The endowed professorship was established to maintain Maryland’s leadership in restoring our ecosystems in the face of growth and a changing climate. Dr. Rose will apply his expertise toward the restoration and sustainability of Maryland’s environment, including the nation’s largest and most important estuary, the Chesapeake Bay.

“We searched far and wide for someone with Dr. Rose’s scientific breadth and proven record of leadership to fill the Professorship,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Don Boesch. “I am certain that he will he will help our whole community of scientists contribute effectively to restoring ecosystems in a rapidly changing environment.”

Dr. Rose comes to UMCES’ Horn Point Laboratory from the College of the Coast & Environment at Louisiana State University, where has been serving as Associate Dean for Research. He previously held the position of Abraham Distinguished Professor. He began his career as a research staff member at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to continue my career working with the faculty and staff of UMCES and with the graduate students in the Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences program. The France-Merrick Professorship gives me an opportunity to greatly expand on existing—and make new—collaborations, and to teach and advise excellent students who are the next generation of scientists in ocean and marine sciences,” said Dr. Kenny Rose. “The Chesapeake Bay is an iconic system to work on, and I hope I can contribute to furthering its effective management and restoration and to exchange lessons learned with scientists, managers, and stakeholders at other ecosystems worldwide.”

Dr. Rose’s research centers on using mathematical and computer simulation modeling to predict and better understand fish population and food web dynamics in estuaries, lakes, reservoirs, and oceans.

“We are delighted to have a world-class scientist like Dr. Kenny Rose join our faculty,” said Mike Roman, Director of UMCES’ Horn Point Laboratory. “His vast experience in ecosystem restoration will be a tremendous asset to improving and maintaining the health of Chesapeake Bay.”

Dr. Rose is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Fisheries Society and recently earned an Award of Excellence for Lifetime Achievement from the American Fisheries Society. He has authored more than 160 peer-reviewed publications and served on more than 30 national and international advisory committees and editorial boards.

He earned is Ph.D. and M.S. in fisheries from University of Washington, and his B.S. in Biology and Mathematics from State University of New York at Albany.

Numerous individuals and foundations matched a $750,000 grant from the France-Merrick Foundation to make the France-Merrick Foundation Professor in Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration possible. The endowment for this fund now stands at more than $1,700,000.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound evidence and advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. www.umces.edu

Discover the Chesapeake Bay this Summer with Scientists from UMCES

The scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have a deep understanding of Chesapeake Bay, its value to the region, and by extension, to the public. Studying its rises and falls, its comebacks and creatures, has helped them to recommend best management practices to natural resource managers and elected officials that better serve our region, and have made our efforts in restoration world renowned.

Starting Monday, June 5, discover the Bay through the eyes of our scientists with a new YouTube series called “Discovering the Chesapeake.” Our scientists will talk about research studies they’re proud of and the impact they made, popular and oft-overlooked creatures that live in the Bay, and even the marvels of the Bay that have impacted them after years of research in the Chesapeake Bay’s waters and watershed.

Throughout the summer, you can visit the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s page on YouTube every Monday at noon for a new conversation.

Subscribe to our page at http://bit.ly/youtube-umces to receive notifications about new videos.

JUNE SCHEDULE

June 5:
Estuarine ecologist Walter Boynton on the disappearance—and return—of seagrasses in the Chesapeake Bay.

June 12:
Chemist Michael Gonsior on the Chesapeake Bay in relation to its neighbor Delaware Bay.

June 19:
Quantitative ecologist Matt Fitzpatrick on how growing up on in the Bay watershed led him to his research there

June 26:
Fisheries scientist Michael Wilberg on the mighty little fish menhaden.

July schedule to come.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound evidence and advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. www.umces.edu

Championing a Horn Point Lab Champion with Jim Brighton & Jamie Pierson

For the last several years, the University Of Maryland’s Horn Point Laboratory has made it a tradition to name a local Chesapeake Champion, to honor those individuals who show through their example how to sustain the region’s wildlife, landscapes and water.

This title is not casually handed out. Former Champions include Waterfowl Festival’s Albert Pritchett, conservationist Chip Akridge, Out of the Fire’s Amy Haines, and last year, Bartlett Pair’s Jordan and Alice Lloyd.

And this year’s recipient, Jim Brighton, falls into that same category as these other greatest stewards of the Bay, but in Jim’s case, his founding the Maryland Biodiversity Project is the first time a “Champion” has been named whose organization includes the work of citizen scientists whose interests relate to Horn Point’s extraordinary research activities in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Since Maryland Biodiversity Project was co-founded by Jim, along with Bill Hubick, in 2012, the organization and its dozens of volunteers have identified and recorded over 17,200 species in the state. And some of that important data is being used by Horn Point scientists, including Jamie Pierson, an oceanographer that focuses most of his work on zooplankton ecology.

And, oh yes, they are friends as well.

In fact, Jim and Jamie Pierson have known each other for many years as professionals, but they met each other in a book club that was studying Thomas Pynchon’s famous novel, ‘Mason & Dixon’. So there is no surprise that Jamie was one of many that was championing Jim for Chesapeake Champion this year.

In their Spy interview, Jamie and Jim talk about their friendship, the important role the Maryland Diversity Project plays in the work of Horn Point Laboratory, and the critical data that MDP has built to support a vibrant, nature study community.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Maryland Diversity Project go here and for Horn Point Laboratory please go here.

There will be a special event to honor Him Brighton at the Waterfowl Festival Armory at 40 S. Harrison Street in Easton on June 23 at 5pm. For tickets and more information please contat Liz Freedlander at lfreedlander@umces.edu

Images from the Front Lines Defending Science by Horn Point Lab’s Diane Stoecker

Editor’s note: Last weekend, thousands of scientists, lab researchers, professors and students gathered in Washington DC for the first ever People’s Climate March. While it is impossible to guess how many Eastern Shore citizens turned up for this important event, one very distinguished member, Diane Stoecker, Professor Emerita at Horn Point Laboratory, made the journey to remind lawmakers how important science is for our society at this critical time in the earth’s history. Professor Stoecker also took with her a camera and began recording the unique perspectives of marchers protest signs.  With her permission, the Spy shares those images to continue the conversation about climate change. 

“On Saturday, April 29th, I joined the thousands who attended the People’s Climate March. Since 1995 until recently, having just become a Professor Emerita, I have been a researcher at the Horn Point Laboratory investigating topics related to biological oceanography. It was important that I join the voices of many people who recognize climate change as having enormous consequences for the future of our planet. The photo portraits that I took of people and their posters represent a thrilling diversity of people and viewpoints who came to be heard. There were many religious, ethnic, and age groups. I was encouraged.”

This video is approximately two minutes in length

 

 

UMCES Commits to Generating Solar Energy on Horn Point Campus

Solar renewable energy will soon be generated in Cambridge, Maryland on the grounds of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). UMCES has signed an agreement with Standard Solar, Inc. to install solar field on approximately 10 acres of its Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) campus. The solar field will be a 2 MW system with expected approximate annual generation of 3.5 MWh of solar renewable energy.

“While the work we do here helps others live more sustainably, it’s essential that we lead by example,” said UMCES president Don Boesch, who has led the University System of Maryland’s Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Initiative since 2008. “Higher education has a key role in shaping a sustainable society.”

The project is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in which the entity, Standard Solar, installs and operates the solar panels in exchange for the use of land, and UMCES agrees to purchase the equivalent energy being generated over the next 20 years from Standard Solar. It is expected that the solar field will generate approximately 50% of the Horn Point Laboratory’s annual energy consumption with anticipated cost savings over the duration of the agreement. 

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is a signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and has launched several programs aimed at reducing our environmental footprint, including setting goals for reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions at each of our laboratories, upgrading aging infrastructure to newer, more energy-efficient alternatives, and building all new campus buildings to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent.

Design of the system has already begun on the solar project at the Horn Point Laboratory and construction is expected to begin this summer and be in service by the spring of 2018.

“The solar field is another example of how we are using innovative ways to manage Horn Point Laboratory in a way that reduces our environmental footprint and engages with the community,” said Mike Roman, director of the Horn Point Laboratory. This project also contributes to increasing Maryland’s in-state distributed electricity generation capacity and reducing the dependency on electricity imported from other states.”

UMCES has also been selected to receive a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration’s Solar PV Canopy with EV Charger Grant Program to offset the cost of four level-II electrical vehicle-charging stations on campus.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. www.umces.edu

Scientists partner with farmers and landowners to help reduce runoff

fisher 1Professor Tom Fisher wades into the water just past his knees in a creek at South Forge. We’re below a bridge on the edge of a narrow two-lane road that winds past farms and houses in Caroline County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The shallow stream itself runs past a farm, through a patch of woods, and into a large metal outflow pipe that carries the water under the road and eventually into the Choptank River on its way to the Chesapeake Bay.

He strings a rope across the stream that hangs a few inches above the water. From there, he holds up a meter stick and takes measurements of the stream’s depth. Then he straps on a device that measures the water velocity of the stream using a long metal pole that he systematically moves across the stream.

On the bank, field technician Michelle Lepori-Bui blows spiders out of a barrel-shaped device that automatically pulls water in from the stream at designated intervals so it can be tested for nitrogen and phosphorus levels, nutrients that are good for crops but bad for waterways. Algae blooms occur downstream in the Choptank and Chesapeake, blocking sunlight and reducing oxygen after the algae settle to the bottom, making it difficult for fish and oysters to survive.

fisher 2The monitoring is part of a five-year project called People Land Water. Funded by the National Science Foundation, Fisher and his team from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory are working directly with farmers and residents on the Eastern Shore to measure the impacts of best management practices like cover crops and steam buffers on water quality. They are looking for the best ways to combat harmful runoff from farms and lawns in the watershed.

“A five square mile area drains to this point,” says Fisher. “The idea was to pick small areas so we could get to know all the farmers and as many of the residents as possible so we have a chance of making a significant increase in best management practices. There are some here already, but we’re trying to add on to that and measure the impact.”

Fisher and his team have been working directly with 25 farmers in Caroline County to implement a variety of best management practices intended to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus running off the land, into streams, and into the Chesapeake Bay. This region has particularly high nitrogen and phosphorus pollution because the dominant land use is agriculture.

fisher 3Maryland has been making progress toward its cleanup goals for the Chesapeake Bay. The latest report card gave the Bay a ‘C’ overall, crediting sewage treatment upgrades, use of winter cover crops by farmers, and reductions in atmospheric nitrogen deposition to moving the needle on restoration. While some tributaries have been improving, water quality in the Choptank River has been on the decline. Fisher and his team are trying to figure out why.

“If we can get 15 best management practices upstream, we can see an effect right here,” said Fisher, pointing to the stream as a truck rumbles by. “We can we see it in terms of nitrogen in base flow, and we can we see it in terms of phosphorus in storm events.”

The group works directly with farmers and residents to implement best management practices, also known as BMPs. For instance, residents can use rain barrels, rain gardens, denitrifying septic systems, and porous pavers to reduce impervious surfaces. Farmers can use cover crops in the off season, controlled drainage structures, and riparian buffers to protect streams from the adjacent land use.

Farmers pay for nitrogen and phosphorus for their crops to increase crop yields, applying it at a rate that is recommended by the State of Maryland. If the nutrients in the field end up in the waterways instead of making corn and vegetables grow big and strong, it not only causes poor water quality, but it is like washing money down the drain for farmers.

fisher 4The People Land Water project also has sociological and economic components. Through annual surveys, Horn Point Laboratory research scientist Kalla Kvalnes is studying whether and how much farmers’ attitudes are changing toward their role in improving water quality. The economic aspect, undertaken by agricultural and environmental economist Jon Winsten at Winrock International, provides information about the relative costs and benefits of management practices.

“I’m hoping it will make a difference in what BMPs are used,” said Fisher. “ I’m fairly certain that’s going to turn into a positive thing.”

For more on the People Land Water project, visit the project blog: peoplelandwater.wordpress.com or look for “People.Land.Water” on Facebook.

Science in the First Person: Jamie Pierson

Jamie Pierson“I study copepods, one of the smallest multicellular animals in the Chesapeake Bay. They are crustaceans, so they are related to crabs, but they eat mostly algae, or single-celled plants.

Copepod means ‘oar foot’ in Greek. They have appendages that act like oars, like on old rowing ships that have paired oars that move at the same time. Fun fact of the day: the study of copepods goes back to Aristotle, who described a parasitic species.

We drag these nets around and filter many cubic meters of water, and then we condense that down into a jar. On average there are a couple of copepods per liter. 

In the lab, we look at their egg production, we look at their grazing rate (how much they are eating), their growth and respiration rate. We’re interested in how those things change with temperature, with food availability, with dissolved oxygen availability, such as in the dead zone in the Bay.

Copepods are right in the middle of the food chain, and that’s why we are interested in what they are doing. You have phytoplankton, which can be measured from space by satellites, at the bottom end. At the top you have fish, which are very important to us.

But the only way you get from phytoplankton to fish—from autotrophs that use sunlight and basic nutrients as the building blocks of life to fish that are economically and ecologically important to us—is through the copepods, because the baby fish and forage fish in the middle eat lots of copepods. That’s how you get from the transfer of the sun’s energy to things that are economically important to us.

The long-term trend suggests that the total amount of copepods available in the Chesapeake Bay has decreased in the last 50 years. It could be because of changes in the types of algae growing due to nutrient inputs or changes in the timing of when the algae peaks.

They could also be affected by how many predators are out there. Jellyfish, larval fish, and forage fish like bay anchovy compete for them. If the conditions are really good for the predators, they can really eat up more of the copepods.”

Jamie Pierson
Biological Oceanographer
Horn Point Laboratory