State of the Science Workshop
2020 State of the Science on Offshore Wind: Cumulative Impacts to Wildlife
**Going virtual in November 2020!**
The planning committee is hard at work developing the scientific program for the workshop. Please check back for a detailed agenda, or sign up for our mailing list to receive updates.
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).
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 neergy to different taxonomic groups such as seabirds, migratory birds and bats, fishes, marine mammals, and sea turtles.
During smaller virtual working group meetings in late 2020 and early 2021, attendees will 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.
Breakout group efforts will culminate in a final webinar in Spring 2021, in which all working groups report their outcomes.
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.
Dutch Governmental Offshore Wind Ecological Programme. 2016. Offshore wind energy ecological programme (WOZEP): Monitoring and research programme 2017-2021. Rijkswaterstaat. 69 pp. Available here
Bird and Bat Scientific Research Framework effort supported by NYSERDA. Learn more
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
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