2020 State of the Science Workshop

Work Groups

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

Workshop attendees, under the guidance of technical leads, have formed work groups to identify scientific research, monitoring, and coordination needs to improve our understanding of cumulative impacts. The goal for each work 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. There are seven taxonomically-focused work groups: benthos, fishes and mobile invertebrates, birds, bats, marine mammals, sea turtles, and environmental change. 

Timeline

Dec 2020 - Jan 2021: First work group meetings

Each work 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 working group topics are listed below; date/time of meetings will be determined by technical and logistical leaders for each group.)

Jan - Mar 2021: Second/third work group meetings

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

May 2021

Culmination Webinar

Work groups report back their list of key studies to the full group, followed by cross-group synthesis and discussion. This final webinar will be open to all 2020 workshop registrants, regardless of whether they participated in a work group. 

Working Group Descriptions

Benthos

Technical Lead: Steven Degraer, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

This group will build off existing work in Europe, such as the Dutch Governmental Offshore Wind Ecological Programme (WOZEP) [1], 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 

Technical Lead: Arthur Popper, University of Maryland

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

Technical Lead: Aonghais Cook, British Trust for Ornithology

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 [2]. 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

Technical Lead: Cris Hein, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

This group will build off existing research such as the Dutch Governmental Offshore Wind Ecological Programme (WOZEP)[1], 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 

Technical Lead: Brandon Southall, Southall Environmental Associates, Inc

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 [3], 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

Technical Lead: Gregg Gitschlag, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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. [3]. 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 

Technical Lead: Jeff Carpenter, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht

Building off existing work by MARACOOS [4] 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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