Project Details - All Projects > Contact - Heath Kelsey


Current Projects


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Maryland Coastal Bays: science communication products and report cards Permanent Link
Maryland's Coastal Bays, the shallow lagoons nestled behind Ocean City and Assateague, comprise a complex ecosystem. These estuarine bays, at the interface between fresh and saltwater, provide habitat for a wide range of aquatic life. But like many coastal systems, they face threats from intense development, nutrients, sediments, and other stresses associated with human activities. IAN has been working with the Coastal Bays Program on various products and studies, including the annual Coastal Bays report card, the book Shifting Sands, and using stable isotope techniques to identify nitrogen sources in the Maryland Coastal Bays.  Full Details  



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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: Coral Reef Ecosystem Status and Trends Report Cards Permanent Link
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Program (NOAA-CRCP) is investing significant funding to support a National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan (NCRMP) throughout the U.S. Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean coral reef areas. The Integration and Application Network at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (IAN-UMCES) understands that a key component of this plan is periodic national-level status and trends reporting. Such reporting will be required to communicate and evaluate the efficacy of place-based investments in coral reef conservation, and the aligned goals and objectives of the NCRMP (as per the NOAA-CRCP NCRMP, 2014). This grant will fund IAN-UMCES to collaboratively develop and implement this status and trends reporting framework with NOAA-CRCP for two pilot areas, American Samoa and the Florida Keys that will be used to develop and pilot the new reporting framework based on biological, physical and socio-economic monitoring data. Report cards for the remaining Pacific jurisdictions will be undertaken during 2017-2018.  Full Details  



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NOAA: Beach water quality prediction mobile app development Permanent Link
In partnership with the University of South Carolina and SECOORA, we first developed a mobile app that displays predictions of water quality at 31 locations along the beach at Myrtle Beach, SC. Daily predictions are created using statistical models that incorporate data from remote sensing and ocean observing system sensors. The tools for developing these statistical models have been improved by merging our efforts with the EPA's Virtual Beach model development software, which was intended to automate the laborious process of statistical model generation for non-statisticians. These tools have been implemented in Sarasota FL and are being modified for recreational and shellfish harvest area water quality in Charleston Harbor, SC.  Full Details  



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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Evaluation of Multi-Year Data Sets to Establish Status and Trends of Environmental Restoration Success in the Everglades Permanent Link

The purpose of this project is to evaluate recent scientific findings that demonstrate progress towards restoration goals for the Everglades, identify research gaps related to the function of the Everglades ecosystem, and to make recommendations for management decisions based on those findings. This system status assessment will be used to convey these findings for the system as a whole and regions of the Everglades to public resource managers and stakeholders. Findings from this assessment will be evaluated for inclusion in the 2017 System Status Report and the 2020 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Report to Congress.   Full Details  




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UNAM State of Yucatan Report Card Permanent Link
The Yucatan coast of NE Mexico that borders the Gulf of Mexico supports a high biodiversity of plants and animals, as well as important fisheries and tourism activities. However, the region's rapid growth in terms of coastal development is putting immense pressure on these natural resources. IAN staff, Dr. Heath Kelsey and Jane Hawkey will develop an ecosystem health report card with Dr. Paulo Salles Afonso de Almeida and Irina Ana Rosa Ize Lema, both of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). A report card workshop was held at the National Coastal Resilience Laboratory (LANRESC) in Sisal, Mexico, assembling stakeholders and scientists interested in ensuring the sustainability of these coastal resources, and to begin the process of creating an ecosystem health report card.  Full Details  



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WWF UMCES Partnership Permanent Link
WWF and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences seek to empower stakeholders around the world to develop and effectively use credible, locally owned report cards in their basins, fostering sustainable water management across basins around the world. We are developing, packaging, and sharing a process that helps stakeholders create science-based report cards in their own basins with the right buy-in on-the-ground and credibility globally, so they can better manage resources for the protection of fresh water they depend upon.  Full Details  



Past Projects


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Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Rookery Bay NERR Permanent Link
The primary objective of this project is to collate data, review indicators, and synthesize both to effectively report the health of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in southwest Florida. Located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the Gulf Coast of Florida, the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. The Reserve covers 110,000 acres of mangrove forest, uplands, and open water that hosts hundreds of fish, birds, reptiles, and many other species.  Full Details  



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Chesapeake Bay Trust: Deep Creek Lake Report Card Permanent Link
Deep Creek Lake is currently experiencing a host of environmental problems related to nutrient and sediment input from the surrounding watershed. The nonprofit organization Friends of Deep Creek Lake (FODCL) is collaborating with EcoCheck to design and produce an environmental report card for Deep Creek Lake. This project is especially important to the evolution of environmental assessment, communication, and reporting for aquatic systems in Maryland. Lake systems form an important ecologic and hydrologic feature of state upland areas. Deep Creek Lake, while not in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, probably serves as a sentinel for future issues with other Maryland lakes. Deep Creek Lake is the oldest lake in Maryland, having been formed for hydropower in the 1920’s. The ecologic and hydrologic problems that Deep Creek Lake is currently experiencing may very well reflect the future of many other Maryland lakes.  Full Details  



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Chesapeake Bay Trust: Development of an adaptive survey tool to measure behavior change within watersheds Permanent Link
This project seeks to develop a tool to help watershed organizations evaluate the prevalence of specific desired behaviors in watershed organization audiences. While public engagement and environmental education efforts have been ongoing by members of the Mid-Atlantic Tributaries Assessment Coalition (MTAC) for the last three decades, it remains unclear if positive behaviors (e.g., reduced use of fertilizer, upgrading septic systems, etc.) are increasing, and if they are, what influences decision-making about adoption of the behaviors. This work will rely on voluntary participation in a web-based survey that will make for cost effective data collection and analysis. The survey tool would continue to be available for watershed organizations in subsequent years, allowing continual message adjustment to achieve specific behavior changes.  Full Details  



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Chesapeake Bay Trust: Expansion of a survey tool to measure behavior change and impacts within watersheds Permanent Link

For over 30 years, citizen science organizations have been a trusted voice and advocate for the health of tributary watersheds to Chesapeake Bay. By engaging citizens in promoting specific Bay friendly actions, these clean water advocates have hoped to improve Bay water quality. However, no comprehensive assessment had been conducted to establish a baseline of current behaviors or measure behavior change. The probability that key stewardship behaviors are occurring and the likelihood that those behaviors will be adopted in the future was the focus of the last year's work. The current project will expand the survey tool that clean water advocates can tailor as needed in order to quantify the use of specific behaviors in their audience. The expansion will increase the reach of the survey, increase the number of key behaviors included in the survey, evaluate the impact of these key stewardship behaviors on Chesapeake Bay restoration, and provide in-depth analysis of the results of the survey. In partnership with OpinionWorks, LLC and other key organizations, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Integration and Application Network (IAN) is pleased to present this proposal to expand a behavior survey tool that will help evaluate the impact of behaviors on Chesapeake Bay restoration and analyze key behaviors in the watershed currently and in future years.   Full Details  




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Chesapeake Bay Trust: Nanticoke Tributary Report Card Permanent Link
The first objective of the project is to produce a Nanticoke watershed/river report card in the format that is fast becoming the standard for reporting water quality information to the public. This report card will be used to inform and involve the public as part of the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance's programmatic and mission effort to conserve the resources of this river. The second is to provide the Alliance with the training and ability- the capacity- to take complete ownership of the report card in subsequent years.  Full Details  



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Chesapeake Bay Trust: Patuxent River Report Card Permanent Link
This report card provides grades for the three tidal regions of the Patuxent River estuary, located on the Western Shore of Chesapeake Bay. The grades are based on six ecological indicators: dissolved oxygen, water clarity, chlorophyll a, phytoplankton community, benthic community, and aquatic grasses.  Full Details  



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Chesapeake Bay Trust: Tributary Report Card Standardization Permanent Link
This project seeks to establish a framework to coordinate efforts among watershed organizations using or planning to use report cards as outreach tools. This project also seeks to develop clear and consistent guidelines and protocols for the development and implementation of report cards by watershed organizations. Protocols will be developed and training provided for sampling and monitoring methodology, data analysis, and science communication. The overall objective is to allow comparability of results from volunteer-based monitoring programs and report cards, and increase the scientific validity of report cards as outreach tools.  Full Details  



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Conservation International: Bay of Bengal booklet and policy advisories Permanent Link
Conservation International is a worldwide non-profit dedicated to preserving and conserving the natural world using an integrated approach of natural and social sciences. For this project, IAN has partnered with Conservation International to develop a 12-page booklet focused on Bay of Bengal (BOB) Marine Protected Areas (MPA), drawing from knowledge of MPAs in the region. The booklet will include individual policy advisories for each of the eight countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal, to provide more information on MPAs in each country.  Full Details  



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Forest Trends: Vision for Marismas Nacionales Permanent Link
Forest Trends (FT) is a Washington D.C.-based international non‐profit organization whose mission is four‐fold: to expand the value of forests to society; to promote sustainable forest management and conservation by creating and capturing market values for ecosystem services; to support innovative projects and companies that are developing these markets; and to enhance the livelihoods of local communities living in and around those forests. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) – Integration and Application Network (IAN) was asked to assist Forest Trends with the development of a communication product that can be used to demonstrate the usefulness of visual product(s) for conducting the feasibility assessments and planning that Marismas Nacionales and Forest Trends’ other Investments in Watershed Services demonstration projects are undertaking.  Full Details  



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Great Barrier Reef Foundation: Development of a Reef Resiliency Index Permanent Link

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) funds research that protects and preserves the Great Barrier Reef, particularly in the face of climate change. In April 2012, GBRF hosted a workshop to chart a vision for assessing the vulnerability of the Great Barrier Reef to climate change through the development of a climate vulnerability index. Major climate impacts already being manifested include: sea surface temperature-induced coral bleaching, coral skeletal degradation due to ocean acidification, and relative sea level rise leading to inundation of mangroves. The development of a climate vulnerability index would provide a probability-based assessment of the likelihood of damage due to climate, and is designed to complement the Great Barrier Reef report cardIAN's role was to prepare a summary newsletter detailing the vision for the development of a Climate Vulnerability Index for the Great Barrier Reef.  Full Details  




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Harte Research Institute: Gulf of Mexico Report Card Permanent Link
The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, along with its partners Harwell Gentile & Associates, LC, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, proposes to develop a comprehensive framework for a Report Card on the health of the Gulf of Mexico.  Full Details  



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India Ministry of Environment and Forests: Report Card for Chilika Lake Permanent Link
The World Bank-funded Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Project serves to assist the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, in building national capacity for implementation of a comprehensive coastal management approach, and piloting the integrated coastal zone management approach in the States of Gujarat, Odisha, and West Bengal, all with long coastlines and unique biodiversity conditions. Each State has a designated State Project Management Unit (SPMU). The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) of the Environment and Forests, located at Anna University in Chennai, has been established to link to eleven collaborating regional centers in each of the coastal States/Union territories.
The first project, organized by NCSCM in partnership with IAN, will take place in the State of Odisha with the Chilika Development Authority as SPMU, to develop an ecological health report card for Chilika Lake. A workshop will be conducted to develop indicators, thresholds, and a reporting framework. Using the results of the workshop, a report card will be designed and completed.
The second project, organized by NCSCM in partnership with IAN, will be in the State of Gujarat with the Gujarat Ecology Commission as SPMU, to develop an ecological health report card for the Marine National Park of Jamnagar, and an environmental impact assessment framework for the entire Gulf of Kachchh.  Full Details  



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Marine Resource Council - Indian River Lagoon Report Card Permanent Link
The Marine Resource Council of East Florida, along with many partners, proposes to develop an ecosystem health report card for the Indian River Lagoon. IAN will help develop by the report card by facilitating a kickoff workshop and producing a framework document for the report card process. Future work will include data analysis, final scores and grades, and producing the report card.  Full Details  



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Maryland Department of the Environment: Design and layout of Maryland's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan Permanent Link
In 2009, Governor Martin O’Malley and Maryland’s General Assembly charged the State with developing a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan that will reduce greenhouse gases 25 percent below a 2006 baseline level by the year 2020. This report provides a detailed overview of Maryland’s Plan, describing Maryland’s vulnerability to climate change and detailing Maryland’s 150-plus Greenhouse Gas Reduction programs and initiatives and their associated benefits.

UMCES worked in partnership with the MDE Office of Communications to help design and edit the existing draft plan to match the style of the Plan’s Executive Summary released earlier in July 2013.   Full Details  



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Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition: Coordination Permanent Link
The Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition is a unique and growing group of watershed organizations interested in advancing the use of environmental data from local organizations and citizen scientists for use in report cards and assessments. Using data collected by concerned citizens, IAN has helped to generate multi-year report cards for nine rivers since 2007.  Full Details  



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Nevada Division of Environmental Protection: Lake Tahoe conceptual diagrams Permanent Link
Degradation of nearshore quality is a primary concern of Lake Tahoe’s residents and stakeholders. Issues impacting the nearshore environment include visible algal growth as well as the establishment and threat of aquatic invasive species. 

This project seeks to improve the effectiveness of communicating the results and findings of the Evaluation of Nearshore Ecology and Aesthetics Project to informed stakeholders, the general public, and the science community.

IAN's role is to create a series of conceptual diagrams for Lake Tahoe's nearshore environment, as tools for outreach and communication. Diagrams will be created to define the nearshore of Lake Tahoe, detailing beneficial uses for the lake and key natural processes that control nearshore aesthetics; depict major sources of pollutants and their associated effects, with list of management actions to control pollutant sources; and contrast developed versus undeveloped areas.  

  Full Details  



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NOAA: Beach Advisory Decision Support Systems Permanent Link
Empirical models were developed at South Carolina beaches and estuaries to create daily forecasts of bacterial water quality for use as decision support tools. These tools predict exceedance of bacteria criteria using integrated monitoring data, remote sensing, and meteorology information. The models developed for beach areas used precipitation data from a rain gauge network, tide data, and qualitative weather information to predict criterion exceedance. Current efforts on these tools include integrating data from ocean observing systems and precipitation data from remote sensing products to create near-real time prediction updates presented in a web-based GIS. Similar predictive models for fecal coliform bacteria concentration were developed using integrated data from monitoring programs, meteorology, and remote sensing. These two related modeling efforts highlight the utility and feasibility of integrating data from observing systems and remote sensing to create empirically-based decision support tools.  Full Details  



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NOAA: Statistical Hypoxia Models & Forecast in the Gulf of Mexico & Chesapeake Bay Permanent Link
The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) in collaboration with the University of Michigan and funded by NOAA will produce a summer dissolved oxygen forecast for Chesapeake Bay. An annual anoxia forecast will be produced for two periods (early and late summer) and a hypoxia forecast will be produced for the month of July. The results of this forecast will be published on an interactive website and included in a press release. A website will be maintained with communication tools to interpret and illustrate the expected outcomes of the forecast. Additionally, we will participate in the production of a report by summarizing the methodology for calculating the forecasted anoxic volumes.  Full Details  



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NPS: Assateague Island National Seashore: Climate Change Permanent Link

Four diverse products designed for different audiences make up this project based on the effects of climate change on Assateague Island.  Full Details  




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Ohio DNR: Old Woman Creek Report Card Permanent Link
The primary objective of this project is to collate data, review indicators, and synthesize both to effectively report the health of Old Woman Creek in north-central Ohio. Old Woman Creek, on the south-central shore of Lake Erie, is one of Ohio’s few remaining examples of a natural estuary and is designated as a National Estuarine Research Reserve and a Ohio State Nature Preserve. It is the only Great Lakes freshwater estuary in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System and is managed cooperatively by NOAA and the ODNR. Existing ecological data collected by government and local community groups from Old Woman Creek and its watershed provide an excellent platform to develop an annual report card that acts to synthesize, interpret and disseminate this information.  Ultimately, the ODNR would like to use this process to improve community and management awareness and understanding of the status of Old Woman Creek.  Full Details  



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Ohio DNR: Pipe Creek Report Card Permanent Link

The primary objective of this project is to collate data, review indicators and synthesize both to effectively report the health of Pipe Creek. Pipe Creek is a small tributary to Sandusky Bay on the south-central shore of Lake Erie. The Pipe Creek watershed is largely developed by a combination of urban and agricultural land uses. Pipe Creek is best known for its 97 acre State Wildlife Area located at the mouth of Pipe Creek, which was constructed in the early 1990s as a mitigation site for wetlands destroyed by development elsewhere. Existing ecological data collected by government and local community groups from Pipe Creek and its watershed, provide an excellent platform to develop an annual report card that acts to synthesize, interpret and disseminate this information. Ultimately, the ODNR would like to use this process to improve community and management awareness and understanding of the status of Pipe Creek.  Full Details  




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Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet: Great Barrier Reef Report Card Permanent Link
The Marine Monitoring Program is a long-term water quality and ecosystem heath monitoring program carried out in the inshore region of the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon. The program is an integral component of the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, that will help to assess the long-term effectiveness of Reef Plan in reversing decline in the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is responsible for the design, implementation and reporting of the monitoring program.  Full Details  



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Restore America’s Estuaries: Linking Habitat Restoration and Fish Productivity Permanent Link
Working with staff at Restore America's Estuaries, IAN staff will develop a marketing report to describe the links between coastal habitat restoration and fish productivity to non-science audiences. The report will highlight selected fish lifecycles and describe how each stage is dependent on key coastal and estuarine habitats.  Full Details  



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SPREP-PIFS: Streamlined environmental reporting Permanent Link
The burden of global, regional, and project reporting has been a longstanding concern of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), particularly on Smaller Island States (SIS). Following a workshop that was jointly convened by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in March 2012 in Fiji, a vision was created for more effective and streamlined reporting in the Pacific Region. The resulting publication uses an environmental case study to showcase how a simple, targeted, and strategic monitoring and reporting framework can facilitate streamlined reporting by allowing data and information to be used for multiple reporting requirements.
  Full Details