2020 State of the Science Workshop

Scientific Program

State of the Science Workshop on Wildlife and Offshore Wind Energy 2020: Cumulative Impacts

The planning committee is hard at work developing the scientific program for the 2020 virtual workshop. Please check back for a detailed agenda, or you can register or sign up for our mailing list to receive updates.

Workshop Goals

State of the Science Workshops are focused on engaging stakeholders in expert information exchange and discussion, and promoting regional coordination and collaboration on offshore wind and wildlife issues. The 2020 workshop goals are to 1) assess the state of the knowledge regarding offshore wind development’s cumulative effects on populations and ecosystems, and 2) develop a research agenda of key studies that could be conducted in the next 3-5 years to improve our understanding of cumulative biological impacts as the offshore wind industry develops in the eastern United States.

 

The emphasis will be on understanding cumulative impacts from a biological perspective, rather than a regulatory perspective, and will focus on the offshore wind industry specifically (though context will also be provided regarding impacts to wildlife from other anthropogenic sources). 

Overview of the Virtual Agenda

Sessions on November 16-20 will include plenary presentations and panel discussions to assess the current state of knowledge, including how we define, approach, and scope cumulative impacts, and the current state of knowledge on cumulative impacts from offshore wind energy to different taxonomic groups such as seabirds, migratory birds and bats, fishes, marine mammals, and sea turtles. We also welcome submitted presentations by workshop participants for the lighting talk sessions during this period (please see the abstract submission page for additional details; lightning talks do not have to focus on cumulative impacts). Sessions 1-7 will be recorded for workshop participants to view asynchronously. Workshop attendees will "opt-in" to participate in one or more breakout groups following the initial week of presentations. 

 

Smaller breakout groups will meet in late 2020 and early 2021 to identify scientific research, monitoring, and coordination needs to improve our understanding of cumulative impacts. The goal for each working group will be to identify a list of studies that could be implemented in the next 5 years to position the stakeholder community to better understand cumulative impacts as the offshore wind industry develops in the U.S.

Draft Program (note that session topics and times may change)

November 16, 2020

Session 1: Frameworks for Understanding Cumulative Impacts from Offshore Wind (10:30 am - 1:30 pm EST)

Pre-recorded or live presentations, followed by live panel Q&A and discussion

November 17, 2020

Session 2: European Efforts to Understand Cumulative Impacts from Offshore Wind (10:30 am - 12:00 pm EST)

Pre-recorded or live presentations, followed by live panel Q&A and discussion

Session 3: Lightning Talks* (12:00 pm - 1:30 pm)

5-minute submitted talks on offshore wind and wildlife topics, followed by Q&A

November 18, 2020

Session 4: Current Knowledge on Cumulative Impacts I (10:30 am - 1:30 pm EST)

Pre-recorded or live presentations, followed by live panel Q&A and discussion

November 19, 2020

Session 5: Current Knowledge on Cumulative Impacts II (10:30 am - 12:00 pm EST)

Pre-recorded or live presentations, followed by live panel Q&A and discussion

Session 6: Lightning Talks* (12:00 pm - 1:30 pm)

5-minute submitted talks on offshore wind and wildlife topics, followed by Q&A

November 20, 2020

Session 7: Designing Studies to Assess Cumulative Impacts (10:30 am - 12:45 pm EST)

Pre-recorded or live presentations, followed by live panel Q&A and discussion

Session 8: Initial Breakout Group Discussions (12:45 pm - 1:30 pm EST)

Informal discussion period for topical breakout groups to: (1) discuss information from plenaries relevant to the group's topic, and (2) begin identifying relevant papers, reports, and other resources. Planned breakout group topics are listed below. 

Nov. 2020 - Jan. 2021

First breakout group meetings (Date/Time TBD)

Breakout group leader reviews pre-existing data and efforts to identify priorities or conduct research; group members work together to identify key gaps and research/coordination needs to improve our understanding of cumulative impacts. (Planned breakout group topics are listed below; date/time of meetings will be determined by technical and logistical leaders for each group.)

Jan. - Mar. 2021

Second breakout group meetings (Date/Time TBD)

Breakout group leader presents draft research and coordination priorities to the group for input. (Planned breakout group topics are listed below; date/time of meetings will be determined by technical and logistical leaders for each group.)

May 2021 

Culmination Webinar (Date/Time TBD)

Working Groups report back their list of key studies to the full group, followed by cross-group synthesis and discussion

 

Breakout Groups

Benthos – This group will build off existing work in Europe, such as the Dutch Governmental Offshore Wind Ecological Programme (WOZEP)  , to identify research questions to improve our understanding of cumulative biological impacts to benthos from offshore wind development. Group discussion will focus on how best to understand the potential long-term effects of offshore wind development on benthic communities, including changes in substrate availability, community composition, and ecosystem structure and function. 

Fishes and mobile invertebrates – This group will build on existing research priorities to improve our understanding of the cumulative impacts of offshore wind development on fishes and invertebrates in the water column. Group discussion could focus on the effects of aquatic noise (both sound pressure and particle motion), electromagnetic fields from buried cables, changes in habitat complexity (which in turn could alter availability of food, shelter, and spawning habitat), or other habitat change.

Birds – This group will build off existing research in Europe, as well as recent efforts in the eastern U.S. to develop a scientific research framework   to understand the effects of offshore wind development on birds and bats. Discussion will focus on how best to improve our understanding of cumulative impacts from offshore wind to birds in relation to displacement and barrier effects, collision mortality, and habitat change. This will include consideration of known and suspected taxon-specific differences in vulnerability to these stressors.

Bats – This group will build off existing research such as the Dutch Governmental Offshore Wind Ecological Programme (WOZEP)  , as well as recent efforts in the eastern U.S. to develop a scientific research framework   to understand the effects of offshore wind development on birds and bats. Group discussions will focus on how best to improve our understanding of the potential for cumulative impacts to bats from offshore wind development, including addressing gaps in our knowledge of bat abundance, distribution, and behavior in the offshore environment, and the potential for collision-related impacts. 

Marine mammals – This group will use the recent development of a scientific research framework   to understand the impacts of offshore wind development in the northeastern U.S. on protected species, which identifies hypotheses relating to short- and long-term effects of wind energy development at the project level. Group discussion will focus on how best to improve our understanding of potential cumulative impacts to marine mammals in relation to aquatic noise, collision risk, and other factors, including identifying specific studies to test identified hypotheses.

Sea turtles – This group may use information on impacts to sea turtles from other industries, such as offshore oil and gas, as well as the recent development of a scientific research framework   to understand the impacts to protected species from offshore wind development in the northeastern U.S. Group discussion will focus on how best to improve our understanding of the potential cumulative impacts to sea turtles from offshore wind development in relation to underwater sound, vessel interactions, EMF, or other factors.

Environmental Change – Building off existing work by MARACOOS and others, this group will focus on how best to improve our understanding of the cumulative effects of offshore wind on oceanographic conditions and habitats. Discussion topics could include the potential for offshore wind development to influence cold pool mixing, local wind patterns, wave generation, tidal amplitudes, stratification of the water column, and dynamics of suspended particles and bedload transport of sediment.

References

  1. Dutch Governmental Offshore Wind Ecological Programme. 2016. Offshore wind energy ecological programme (WOZEP): Monitoring and research programme 2017-2021. Rijkswaterstaat. 69 pp. Available here

  2. Bird and Bat Scientific Research Framework effort supported by NYSERDA. Learn more

  3. Kraus, S.D., R.D. Kenney, and L. Thomas. 2019. A framework for studying the effects of offshore wind development on marine mammals and sea turtles. Report prepared for the Massachusetts Clean Energy center, Boston, MA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. 48 pp. Available here

  4. Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Observing System. Learn more

Photo credits: Loggerhead sea turtle © Kate Sutherland; Benthos © Yannis Papanastasopoulos; Fish © Lance Anderson; Northern gannet © Benoit Gauzere; Bats © Clament Falize; Humpback whale © Richard Sagredo; Green sea turtle © James Thorton; Ocean © Ines Alvarez

The Environmental Technical Working Group (E-TWG) is a New York State outreach and collaboration effort with environmental stakeholders and offshore wind energy developers.

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