What happens when a bunch of scientists all join a zoom room together? An interactive discussion on what is needed to better understand SWISLR! The quotes throughout this blog are taken from the seminar at the beginning of the webinar and from the discussion board created by the participants at the end of the webinar.
Saltwater Intrusion and Sea Level Rise (SWISLR) is occurring globally, causing regional impacts and outcomes due to the variability of the coast. Our goal as a Research Coordination Network (RCN) is to not only collect and synthesize the current scientific understanding of SWISLR impacts, but to ensure that future research is providing the knowledge and insights that coastal community leaders need to protect the most vulnerable communities. To learn more, you can watch the recording of the seminar found here.
To start, the RCN is hosting monthly seminars to introduce the issues of SWISLR. Emily Bernhardt starts off the first meeting with an introduction to the RCN and to SWISLR. She states that “the goal of these monthly webinars is to build out a community to hear from folks about how we can best coordinate and work together.” Coordination is increasingly important due to the increasing vulnerability and the regional differences seen throughout the eastern coastal plain. The causes of SWISLR are relatively well known, however the study and knowledge of impacts and areas of heightened vulnerability are localized and disconnected. Working with others on an interdisciplinary team can facilitate “wholistic systems thinking regarding the causes and consequences [of SWISLR]” (Ellen Herbert) which can then lead to “richer research and more relevant solutions” (Ryan Emanuel).
When posed with the questions of; “What would you bring to the RCN?”, “How would it help your work to connect with others who work on SWISLR across the NACP?”, “What would you need from the RCN?”, and “What should the RCN prioritize within SWISLR research?”, the participants had similar answers to each other. Many people were bringing their own perspectives on SWISLR to the RCN. People who have been working in the field their whole career have unique knowledge of study sites, William Conner says that he has “almost 50 years of working in forested wetlands”. Additionally, people are bringing specific methods to the RCN, like “remote sensing skills” (Xi Yang), “physics-based modeling approaches of storm surges and subsurface salt transport” (Holly Michael) and “predictive mapping” (Becky Epanchin-Niell). People wanted more collaboration and a synthesis of current research. Chris Elphick specifically wanted “a better sense of what is being done by others so as to not duplicate effort.” Some wanted better solutions and strategies for agricultural impacts, ecosystem transitions/loss, and shifts in demography (Matt Kirwan). Looking at what people would bring to the RCN and what people need from the RCN led to a discussion of the final questions we asked: What should we prioritize?
Moving forward, the RCN needs to prioritize two main ideas. First, to facilitate diverse partnerships that not only benefit but also engage people currently facing SWISLR-related changes. And second, to synthesize SWISLR knowledge, research, data, and other SWISLR-related information. A synthesis would allow us to create connections, provide a broader spatial scale of SWISLR, and identify gaps in the data.