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

About Sentinel Monitoring in Long Island Sound

The Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change Program (SMCCP) in the coastal ecoregions and estuarine waters of Long Island and Fisher Island Sounds (see Figure 1) is a multidisciplinary scientific approach to quantify local changes in the environment from climate change and provide an early warning system to allow for the development and implementation of adaptation strategies. The goal of the SMCCP is to 1) collect and synthesize data (i.e., monitoring) that will indicate how LIS and its associated habitats, biota and processes are changing; and, 2) utilize sentinel data to provide scientists and managers with the information necessary to prioritize climate change impacts and determine appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies for these impacts to the LIS ecosystem. These impacts include but are not limited to: loss or changes in ecosystem functions and processes; disruption in fisheries, aquaculture and other economic commodities; and changes in species population dynamics, including both the loss of and introduction of new species.

Images of Long Island Sound boundary.
Figure 1. Map of coastal boundary established by LISS, prepared by the Southern New England Coastal Program Office, United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The scientific and management literature is replete with references to climate change sentinels. A sentinel can be a geographic area, a habitat or ecosystem or individual species or species groups. For this program a sentinel is a measurable variable that is susceptible to some key aspect of climate change and which is being monitored for the appearance of climate change.

The specific objectives of the SMCCP and of the strategic plan presented here are:

  1. Summarize the state of knowledge on observed and potential climate change impacts on LIS habitats, biota and processes.
  2. Develop and fund a pilot-scale adaptive monitoring program to begin the effort to measure and evaluate sentinel indicators and associated parameters that would signal the magnitudes and rates of change in LIS habitats, biota, and processes caused by climate change.
  3. This strategy and the pilot-scale program are intended to be used to leverage funding from other climate-change initiatives available at the state, regional, and federal level.
  4. Identify opportunities for collaboration(s) to establish critical research programs (if they do not already exist), foster needed technological advancements, and implement long term monitoring.
  5. Create a data citation clearinghouse that will serve as a master research web page to organize, coordinate, and promote awareness of LIS data, research, and researchers. The clearinghouse will provide access to the types, locations, and dates of data collection pertaining to climate change in LIS.
  6. Synthesize and review outcomes of the pilot program to provide regular assessments of indicators and determine if changes should be made in parameters measured.
  7. Provide data and model predictions from the pilot program to managers such that management decisions and adaptation strategies may be developed and implemented.
Go to Climate Change Back to top