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Why are ecosystem indicators important?

Indicators are one of the best tools for understanding the complexities of the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy. Like lights on the dashboard of a car, indicators can work in concert with each other to provide an essential look at the larger system. They can be combined into complex calculations or be relatively simple. Simple indicators are often driven by complicated pressures and responses.

Fact Sheets

ESIP publishes fact sheets on indicators groups used in the Gulf of Maine region

Fisheries

In order to answer this question you need to utilize the graphing function in the Indicator Reporting Tool. Use the tab to open up the graphing window from the front page of the webtool. Select the appropriate dataset based on your question. If you are interested in the bulk weight of New Hampshire landings select “dominant species metric pounds”. If you are interested in the monetary value of New Hampshire landings select “dominant species dollars”. Select New Hampshire as the station and select the species as the reading. Then graph it up!

In order to answer this question you need to utilize the graphing function in the Indicator Reporting Tool. Use the tab to open the graphing window from the front page of the webtool. Select the OceanJobs dataset. Select Maine as the station. Select “living resources (includes self employment)”. Chose the start year and end year and hit “graph it”.

If you are interested in exploring the American Lobster Settlement Index (ALSI) visit the Indicator Reporting Tool. On the front page of the tool you can look at map layers. If you select the Fisheres layer you will then see “American Lobster Settlement Index”. If you wish to see station locations for ALSI you can select the dataset. You can also move to the graphing function of the tool. Once there chose “American Lobster Settlement Index” and select your station and years of interest.

Coastal Development

In order to answer this question you need to find your location. Using the Fact Sheet and ESIP Indicator Reporting Tool you can see population changes in your county along with the complete State or Province. To see population changes for your county refer to Figure 1 of this fact sheet. To see changes in your State or Province simply go to the Graph tab in the ESIP Indicator Reporting Tool and select Total Population State/Province-wide. You can then select your state or province and the time period you are interested in.

In order to answer this question you need to use the impervious surface layer in the ESIP Indicator Reporting Tool. Under map layers select Coastal Development and then Impervious Surface for either the States or Nova Scotia (there is no New Brunswick information available right now). Click the layer to be on and then zoom to your location.

In order to answer this question you need use the point sources layer in the ESIP Indicator Reporting Tool. Under map layers select Coastal Development and then Registered Point Sources). Click the layer to be on and then zoom to your location. You can get to common “locations” through the Zoom to button to go quickly to certain parts of the Gulf of Maine.

Contaminants

In order to answer this question you need to find your location. To see nearby sediment monitoring sites you simply go to the Map Layers tab in the ESIP Indicator Reporting Tool and select the Contaminants layer. Once there you can select the NCA Sediment Contaminants folder and then select the pin closest to your location. Remember the name of that location! Then go to the Graphs tab. Select NCA Sediment Contaminants as the dataset. Select the site you found originally and then select the parameters of interest. Once you chose the years you are interested in a graph will be created by the Tool.

In order to answer this question, first you have to find your location. To see nearby Gulfwatch site simply go to the Map Layers tab in the ESIP Indicator Reporting Tool and select the Contaminants layer. Once there you can select the Gulfwatch folder and then select the pin closest to your location. Remember the name of that location! Then go to the Graphs tab. Select Gulfwatch as the dataset. Select the site you found originally and then select SumDDT (6). Now chose the years you are interested in. A graph will be created by the Tool.

Aquaculture

This is a complicated question and requires you to perform analysis both using the Indicator Reporting Tool and separately. First you will need to build a graph with the Indicator Reporting Tool. The first graph will show the economic value of aquaculture within the ESIP tool. The second step will require you to download the precipitation data separately and perform analysis on your own. To look at the economic value of aquaculture go to the Graph tab and select Go to Graphs. Once there select the appropriate dataset of interest (Aquaculture – Economic) and select the state or province of interest under Site and then the parameter of interest. Select the years of interest. Once you have your graph you can print. To get the extreme precipitation dataset you will need to go back to the main page of the Indicator Reporting Tool and go to the Download Tabular Data at the bottom of the page. There you can download the US precipitation or Canadian precipitation files. Decide how you want to define extreme precipitation events (perhaps 25 mm of precipitation in 24 hours) and analyze the data using that definition. Now compare your economic information to your precipitation information.

In order to answer this question, first you have to find your location. To see any nearby Gulfwatch site simply go to the May Layers tab in the Indicator Reporting Tool and select the Contaminants layer. Once there you can select the Gulfwatch folder and then select the pin closest to your location.

To see the eelgrass layers for any jurisdiction in the Gulf of Maine simply go to the Map Layers tab in the Indicator Reporting Tool and select the Aquatic Habitats folder. Once there select the appropriate layer for the jurisdiction you are interested in. As there is no significant eelgrass in the Bay of Fundy the only layers available are for the US portions of the Gulf of Maine.

Climate Change

To answer this question, you need to build a graph for both sea level in Boston and sea level in Yarmouth. To build the first graph, go the Indicator Reporting Tool and click the Graph tab and then Go to Graphs. Select PSMSL – Sea Level and then Site 171 (for Boston). Select Sea level as the parameter and then select the years of interest. Once you are finished, hit the Add Graph button at the bottom and do it all again for Site 007 (Yarmouth) to compare the two sites.

To answer this question, you need to download the precipitation data from the Indicator Reporting Tool and bring it into your own data analysis program. To get the data you will need to go back to the main page of the Indicator Reporting Tool and go to the Download Tabular Data at the bottom of the page. There you can download the US precipitation or Canadian precipitation files. There you can download the US precipitation or Canadian precipitation files. Decide how you want to define extreme precipitation events (perhaps 25 mm of precipitation in 24 hours) and analyze the data using that definition.

To answer this question you will need to build two graphs showing air temperature in the past 15 years for your location versus air temperature in the past 50 years. To do statistical analysis, you can download the tabular data from the Indicator Reporting Tool. To simply look at the data by building two graphs we will use an example for Acadia, Maine. To build the first graph click on the Graphs tab and the Go to Graphs. There select the USHCN – Air Temperature dataset and Acadia National Park site. You can then select Mean Air Temperature. You can then select the years 1992 to 2007. Once the first graph is built, select Add Graph and build a second graph using the same process except using the years 1957 to 2007.

big>Aquatic Habitats

In order to answer this question, first you have to find your watershed within the Indicator Reporting Tool. As an example, if you live along Chignecto Bay you can use the Zoom To at the top of the tool and select Chignecto Bay. You can then select Map Layers and scroll down to the Aquatic Habitat layer. Once you select Tidal Restrictions pins will appear within the map to your right. You might need to remove other selections within the map layers that were on the map previously. You can click on any pin to see the latitude and longitude of any tidal restriction on the map.

To determine the nitrogen loading of an embayment under consideration for eelgrass restoration, you need to access the SPARROW model estimates that that embayment. To do this, locate the embayment of interest by clicking the “Eutrophication” label under Indicator Groups for Map Layers and then selecting Nutrients. You then can select the pin closest to your embayment. For example, if you are planning to do eelgrass restoration in Duxbury Bay you can select the pin closest to that embayment to determine that the nitrogen loading is estimated at 55,139 kilograms per year.

Eutrophication

Nitrogen has been estimated for twenty-two estuaries in the United States portion of the Gulf of Maine. As an example, if you live along Hampton Harbor in New Hampshire, the SPARROW model estimates that this embayment received approximately 112,669 kilograms of Nitrogen per year. You can find this answer by clicking the Eutrophication label under Indicator Groups for Map Layers and then select Nutrients. Then select the pin close to Hampton Harbor, your location of interest.

To see if water clarity changed during the last dry season, you need to determine your location of interest and the last dry season of interest. This is a complicated question and will require building two graphs. The first graph will involve building a precipitation graph. To do this go to the Graph window and select the USHCN Precipitation dataset. Select a site (for this example, the Portland, ME). Select Precipitation and select from 1970 to 2006. This figure shows precipitation trends for the most recent decades. The closest site for water clarity (secchi) is the Friends of Casco Bay monitoring project. To view that information select Add Graph. And build a second graph using the water clarity (secchi) parameter. You can now look between the figures to make your own judgement call.

You can find a monitoring group close to home that is working on eutrophication issues by clicking the About Site Data tab at the bottom of the Indicator Reporting Tool. Select Eutrophication – Chlorophyll a & Secchi. There you will find a list of the various monitoring groups which provide data to ESIP in the Gulf of Maine.

Journals

ESIP regularly publishes journals by scientists, managers and policy makers working in the Gulf of Maine

From ESIP’s September 2013 Journal

DAMOS is a long-term monitoring program that relies on a series of indicators to track conditions at dredged material disposal sites. The most commonly collected indicators are acoustic data collected remotely from a vessel at the surface and photographs taken at the seafloor.

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From ESIP’s August 2013 Journal

Many coastal areas with rich fishing industries face the challenge of maintaining suitable water quality standards. The Annapolis Basin in Nova Scotia is particularly prone to contamination by land-based fecal coliform bacteria in response to heavy rain events. Contamination levels from rain events force the closure of wild harvest and aquaculture soft shell clam beaches for several weeks each year.

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From ESIP’s July 2013 Journal

The University of New England (UNE) will welcome its fourth and final cohort of Graduate Fellows to the National Science Foundation SPARTACUS GK-12 project in the Department of Marine Sciences this August. Led by Stephan Zeeman, Susan Hillman, and Charles Tilburg of UNE, the SPARTACUS (Systemic PARTnership Aimed at Connecting University and School) GK12 project focuses on the hydrologic cycle in a coastal watershed and conveys the importance of interdisciplinary efforts in scientific and social issues to K-12 students and teachers through the work of graduate students pursuing a MS in Marine Sciences at UNE.

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Data and Tools

ESIP produces data innovative tools for anyone interested in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem to use

Where can I download data to use in the database or mapping software on my computer?

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Is there a GIS available online where I can see sites monitoring relevant to ESIP’s core indicators?

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I don’t have a GIS installed on my computer, but is there a GIS tool available online I can use to overlay data from different programs and compare data myself?

Priority Indicators

Aquatic Habitats

Aquaculture

Climate Change

Coastal Development

Contaminants

Eutrophication

Fisheries