Interdisciplinary Science Outreach Proposal

Objectives:This project will emphasize an interdisciplinary science approach to assist coastal communities and industries in solving environmental problems and adapting to environmental change, including climate-related impacts on coastal habitats. Specific objectives include assisting coastal communities, land managers, and marine industries in preparing for future impacts of climate change, such as increased storm surge frequency and intensity, ocean acidification, and sea level rise; heightening levels of awareness, knowledge, and understanding in the broader public of climate-related issues, causes and likely effects, and adaptation measures that can be taken to avoid negative effects of climate change; improving the capacity of coastal communities to identify, monitor, and reduce impacts of pollution to the coastal ocean, thereby improving water and habitat quality; and increasing public awareness of coastal water quality and aquatic pollution issues and measures to avoid and/or mitigate them.Methodology:The Coastal Ecologist (Simpson) will solicit information on current state of knowledge and knowledge needs from Massachusetts constituents, and develop specific research goals and products to meet those needs. Outreach activities will include producing workshops for land use managers and decision-makers to deliver information on the most current, regionally-specific understanding of climate change and related effects, and sharing successful, cost-effective adaptation strategies. Other climate-related informal education and outreach activities include the development of an ocean and climate change themed game targeted to a 15 years ñ adult age range, where users will learn about climate impacts on ocean ecosystems through game play. Information may also be spread more widely by assembling a set of climate change-oriented resources and outreach materials for use by television weathercasters, to enable broad dissemination of easily accessible, regionally-specific climate information.A water quality training and outreach program will include creating a lending library of water quality test kits and educational materials, along with workshops to train teachers in their use. Eligible teachers may then borrow the kits and give their students hands-on field experience in coastal water quality assessment. This may be particularly important in underserved communities where schools may not have the resources to provide this kind of experience for their teachers or students. Rationale:Environmental change, whether directly related to climate or land and ocean use, is one of the most serious threats facing the health and security of human society today. While there is a great deal of information available to the public on environmental change and related impacts, much of it is highly complex, broadly focused, and offered at an overwhelming level of detail which makes it functionally unavailable. Further, there is a critical need for dissemination of the information we do have about these issues in order to both mitigate the impacts that can be controlled or altered, and adapt to changes that are beyond local control.