Horn Point Laboratory Offers Science Seminars for Local Residents

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The Chesapeake Bay and its rivers are the lifeblood of the Eastern Shore. While many easily recognize the natural beauty Bay country offers, the Horn Point Laboratory is offering “Science After Hours with Horn Point Laboratory,” to make the science of the Chesapeake Bay as accessible as its beauty.

“Science After Hours with Horn Point Laboratory” will be held on November 15 and December 3 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Michaels Branch of the Talbot Co. Library, located at 106 Freemont Street, St. Michaels MD 21663.

Register on line:  https://www.umces.edu/science-after-hours-november, or contact Carin Starr, cstarr@umces.edu or 410-221-8408.

Dr. Patricia Glibert (left) and Dr. Victoria Coles

Programs include:

Thursday, November 15:
Dr. Patricia Glibert; “Nutrient Pollution and Water Quality – global insight & local perspective ”
This talk will explore nutrient pollution and algal blooms – lessons from around the world, the recent Florida red tide and blooms in the Bay.

Monday, December 3:
Dr. Victoria Coles; “Changing Chesapeake: What’s in store for the Eastern Shore”

This interactive talk will go back in time over the past century using local weather stations to learn how our weather has been changing – and what models predict for the future.”

Free and open to the public the forty-five-minute talks will shed light into the mysteries of the Bay and highlight Horn Point Laboratory’s research working to improve the health of the Bay and coastal waters globally.  Questions and participation by the audience are encouraged.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

The Horn Point Laboratory is part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the University System of Maryland’s environmental research institution. UMCES researchers are helping improve our scientific understanding of Maryland, the region and the world through five research centers – Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg, Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Baltimore, and the Maryland Sea Grant College in College Park. www.umces.edu

Open House at Horn Point Laboratory October 13

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For the 17th year, rain or shine, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s (UMCES) Horn Point Laboratory invites the public to a FREE Open House on Saturday, October 13, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. “Sustainable Solutions through Science” is this year’s theme.  Hands-on exhibits allow visitors to explore the science happening at Horn Point Lab (HPL) and its impact on Chesapeake Bay to make it healthy and keep it healthy. Learn how marshes, oysters, sediment, tiny zooplankton, computer models, and more help restore and sustain the Bay.

A scavenger hunt will enhance the kid’s exploration of exhibits and campus activities.  Come aboard UMCES research vessel Rachel Carson and explore new advances in aquaculture at the boat basin.  Hop on the hayride for a campus tour and learn how much energy is being produced by the 10-acre solar field.  It is a great day filled with educational activities for all ages. 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.

From the banks of the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore just outside Cambridge, HPL scientists engage in world-renowned research in oceanography, water quality, restoration of sea grasses, marshes and shellfish, and expertise in ecosystem modeling.  At Open House you can be a part of it all.

Visitors to the Open House will be able to:

• Play in a digital sand box to create shorelines and model weather’s impact around the Bay with laser imaging.
• 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.
• Observe and learn about sturgeon whose ancestors date to the Jurassic period
• Build a healthy marsh and learn who are our best partners in this effort.
• Meet and talk to graduate students about their environmental career goals.
• At the children’s activity booth, create eco-friendly animals that live in our waters. Play games that teach fun facts about the Bay. Go on a scavenger hunt through the exhibits to learn how the Bay’s lasting health starts with each of us making a cleaner environment today.

The open house is for all ages and takes place rain or shine. The Horn Point Laboratory campus is located at 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.

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

Horn Point’s Chesapeake Champion Jerry Harris Takes a Bow

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For the 6th year in a row, the folks from Horn Point Laboratory gathered at Waterfowl Festival Headquarters on Harrison Street last Friday to once again celebrate the achievements of a special individual from the Mid-Shore who had made a substantial contribution to the environmental health of the Chesapeake Bay.

This year, Jerry Harris, former businessman and now farm owner in Dorchester, received the award for his work in working with Horn Point and Ducks Unlimited (where he serves on the national Board of Directors) to host educational programs for students wishing to become wildlife managers.

Harris joins an extraordinary list of conservation leaders as a Chesapeake Champion They include Amy Haines of Out of the Fire Restaurant; Chip Akridge, owner of Harleigh Farms; Albert Pritchett of the Waterfowl Festival and Waterfowl Chesapeake; Jordan and Alice Lloyd of the Bartlett Pear; and Jim Brighton of the Maryland Biodiversity Project.

The Spy was there to capture some of the evenings best moments as Horn Point Director Mike Roman hosted the gathering of two hundred guests.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory please go here

New Solar Field and Sustainability Take Center Stage at Horn Point

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This spring, the switch was flipped on a new solar field spanning 10 acres on the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory campus. The 11,000 solar panels are expected to generate the equivalent of 50% of the campus’ annual energy consumption.

“The solar field is another example of how we are using innovative ways to reduce our environmental footprint and engage with the community,” said Mike Roman, director of UMCES’ Horn Point Laboratory, where scientists engage in world-renowned research in oceanography, water quality, and restoration of seagrasses, marshes and shellfish. “This is a milestone in a long journey to carbon neutrality and non-dependence on fossil fuel.” 

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.

The campus also put the final touches on a new solar canopy over a 46-space, crushed stone parking lot that will offset the cost of four level-II electrical vehicle charging stations. This project is thanks to a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is a signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (Second Nature) and has launched a number programs aimed at reducing its environmental footprint, including setting goals for reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions at each of its four 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. UMCES was recently awarded a Mark of Distinction for meeting its 25% Carbon Reduction Goal.  

“Higher education has a key role in shaping a sustainable society. It’s extremely important that we lead by example,” said Peter Goodwin, president of the University of Maryland Center for

Environmental Science. He also serves Vice Chancellor for Sustainability for the 12-institution University System of Maryland. “We are committed as an institution to understanding and the protecting the environment, and we must be a leader finding ways to reduce energy consumption and increase sustainability.”

 

Mid-Shore Ecosystem: Championing a Horn Point Lab Champion with Jim Brighton & Jamie Pierson

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

 

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