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Department of Environmental Science and Policy George Mason University Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center Belmont Bay Prince William County, Virginia An Environmental Research and Education Center for the Potomac River Basin Our Mission

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Potomac environmental research and education center l.jpg

Department of Environmental Science and Policy

George Mason University

Potomac EnvironmentalResearch and Education Center

Belmont Bay

Prince William County, Virginia

An Environmental Research and Education Center

for the Potomac River Basin


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Our Mission

To utilize the tools of scientific research, restoration, education, and policy analysis to help society understand and sustain natural processes in ecosystems, watersheds, and landscapes.


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Potomac Environmental Research and Education CenterSpecific Research Foci

  • Restoration of Potomac River & Chesapeake Bay

  • Sustainability of Natural Ecosystems in Suburban Areas

  • Impact of Global Climate Change on Management of Aquatic Ecosystems


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Restoration of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay

  • New Bay Agreement

  • Important research questions remain:

    • The effect of nutrients on Bay organisms

    • Greater understanding of tidal freshwater & oligohaline ecosystems

    • The role of wetlands in protecting the Bay

    • The recovery of Bay communities when stresses are removed


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Suburban Sustainability

  • Northern Virginia is one of the most rapidly growing regions of the Country

    • How does this rapid growth impact our ecosystems?

    • What are the growth and development strategies that can lessen that impact and allow us to retain a greater variety of organisms?


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Global Climate Change and Management of Natural Ecosystems

  • Impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems

  • Linkages between climate change, hydrology, and aquatic ecology

  • Using managed landscapes and wetlands to store carbon & carbon credits


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Belmont: A Great Opportunity for Environmental Science and Policy

  • At the mouth of the tidal Occoquan River

  • 30 minute drive from the Fairfax campus

  • Convenient to eastern PW, so. Fairfax, Spring- field, Alexandria, Mount Vernon, & points south


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Immediate Vicinity Policy

  • Adjacent to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge & Virginia Science Museum site

  • Near Mason Neck, PW Forest National Park and other natural areas

  • Convenient to I-95, Rt. 1, Rt. 123, Fairfax Campus

  • Adjacent to VRE commuter rail station

  • In mixed use development including retail, convention center, housing


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Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Policy

  • 580 acres of tidal marshes and upland meadows

  • A wide variety of plants and animals

  • Access for class field trips, observational research


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Facilities Anticipated at Belmont Policy

  • 8 research labs (with viewing walls)

  • 4 teaching lab

  • 14 support rooms

  • 3 Lecture Rooms (30-50 seat)

  • 1 Large Assembly Room (80 seat)

  • 10 Offices


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Facilities Anticipated at Belmont Policy

  • Library/Resources Center

  • GIS/Graphics Facility

  • Conference Room

  • Classrooms for general university courses


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Education Programs Policy

  • Serve as a focus of activity for Environmental programs at GMU

    • Graduate programs in Environmental Science and Public Policy

    • Certificates in Environmental Management

    • Courses in Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Geography, Human Ecology

    • General Education course in Environmental Science


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K-12 and Community Programs Policy

  • Work with local schools to implement watershed and bay ecology educational programs incorporated into basic science curriculum

  • Conduct ecology camps

  • Serve as a resource for local government and citizens


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Status of PEREC Policy

  • Website is up:

    • http://perec.cos.gmu.edu

  • Inaugural Seminar Series Underway

  • Planning proceeding for temporary and permanent space at Belmont Bay

  • Research and educational activities initiated


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Current Funded Research PolicyPotomac Environmental Research and Education Center

  • Gunston Cove Ecosystem Study

    • Now in its 25th year, over $2 million in external funding, mostly from Fairfax County

    • Long-term study of the tidal Potomac River just north of Belmont

  • Geospatial Analysis of Fairfax County Natural Areas

  • Compendium of Watershed Assessment Methods

    • http://assessmentmethods.nbii.gov/

  • Tidal Potomac Teacher Training Workshop


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Recovery of a Tidal Freshwater Embayment from Eutrophication:A Long-Term Study

R. Christian Jones

Department of Environmental Science and Policy

Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center

George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia, USA


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Since 1983/84, water quality, plankton, fish and benthos have been monitor-ed on a generally semimonthly basis at a number of sites in the Gunston Cove area.

Noman Cole PCP

*

Monitoring Site Key:

● water quality and plankton

▲fish trawl

■ fish seine


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Summary of Phytoplankton, Light, Submersed Macrophyte Response

  • Improvements in water clarity related to P-limitation and decline of phytoplankton were correlated with an increase in submersed macrophyte coverage in Gunston Cove

  • Since 1 m colonization depth was achieved (2004), macrophyte coverage has increased strongly


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Temperature Rising in Gunston Cove? Response

  • An interesting pattern of increasing summer water temperatures has emerged in our data

  • Could this signal a persistent trend of increasing water temperature and what effect might this have on the ecosystem?


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Department of Environmental Science and Policy Response

  • Other climate change activities

    • Coral reef dynamics

    • Changes in autumn leaf color timing

    • Impact of climate change on indigenous peoples of Siberia

    • Survey research on attitudes regarding climate change

    • International Marine Conservation Congress at Mason – May 20-24, 2009


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Robert Jonas Response

Pat Gillevet

Esther Peters

Geoff Cook

Karen Santora

Masoumeh Sikaroodi

Staci Lewis

W support of

Flower Garden Banks

National Marine Sanctuary



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March 2006 Response

East Bank

Flower Garden Banks

Buoy #2 (E201)

May 2006

March 2007

March 2007

East Bank

Flower Garden Banks

Buoy #2 (E201)

May 2006

East Bank

Flower Garden Banks

Buoy #2 (E201)


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Predicting Changes in Autumn Leaf Color in N. Va. Mtn. Plant Communities and Relation to Insect CommunitiesRebecca Forkner, PI

  • Measure leaf flush time, leaf color changes, leaf drop time, phenolic content of leaves, and insect abundance and leaf damage

  • Simulate herbivory, shading, and UV damage effects in the lab

  • Use results to predict effects of global climate change on autumn leaf color timing and intensity


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APPROPRIATING KNOWLEDGE Communities and Relation to Insect Communities

-Model(s) of household- & community-level GCC knowledge and adaptation;

-Integrative GCC education dossier of western & IP knowledge;

- Policy rec’s to inform existing GCC policy initiatives and bolster local adaptation.

SURVEYING CAPACITY

Document elder observations/ perceptions of, /adaptation to GCC

Document community

observations/ perceptions of, /adaptation to GCC

Evaluate existence and effectiveness of current local, regional and state GCC interventions

Inform with circumpolar (ITC, ICC, Snowchange) and global projects (Many strong voices, Sharing knowledge…)

BUILDING RESILIENCE

Assessing Knowledge, Resilience & Adaptation and Policy Needs in Viliui Sakha Villages Experiencing Unprecedented Climate Change

Susan Crate, PI

Fill knowledge

gaps using

appropriate

regional,

national &

GCC data

Integrate

community

and elder

knowledge

to address

contemporary

GCC needs


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GMU Students’ attitudes to global warming & sustainability

Ashley Sitar-Gonzales

Undergraduate

Supervisor: ECM Parsons


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International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) 2009 & sustainability

  • Mason will host this international meeting bringing together the world’s experts on marine conservation to address these pressing issues

  • Plenary talks, contributed papers, symposia, and workshops

  • Global Climate change is one of 4 major themes

  • http://conbio.org/IMCC


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Potential Collaborations & sustainability


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