Extreme climate events (ECEs) have increased and are projected to further increase in intensity and frequency across the United States and the world. Such events include tropical storms and hurricanes, thunderstorms, heat waves, droughts, ice storms, snowstorms and/or nor’easters, unexpected frost/freeze events, and tornadoes. These extreme events are expected to have significant consequences for aquatic ecosystems with potential for large changes in ecosystem processes, response, and functions. Such changes could impair the important services that these ecosystems provide and thus affect the well-being of our environment and society. There is an urgent need to advance our understanding of how ECEs impact and change aquatic ecosystem processes and function over the short and long term, and how we can manage and mitigate these effects to protect environmental and human health.
There have been many meetings that have been devoted to climatic aspects of extreme events (i.e., climate forcings behind generation of extreme events and their statistical occurrence), as well as individual, focused sessions at large professional meetings (e.g., American Geophysical Union (AGU), Ecological Society of America (ESA), etc.). However, we do not know of a specific, full meeting that has been devoted to advancing our knowledge of how aquatic biogeochemical cycles may change due to ECEs. For this conference, we propose to bring together a diverse, interdisciplinary team of scientists from disciplines including hydrology, biogeochemistry, geomorphology, soil sciences, plant and agricultural sciences, atmospheric sciences, ecology, watershed sciences, estuarine and coastal sciences, and engineering. Very rarely do we see such a broad array of expertise in individual sessions at professional meetings. We will structure this conference to: (a) synthesize the current state of knowledge; (b) develop conceptual and mechanistic models that will advance the science; (c) explore new directions for experiments, measurements, and modeling studies; and (d) determine how our science can help shape mitigation, management, and restoration strategies for aquatic systems subject to ECEs.
Specifically, this Chapman Conference will focus on (a) water-driven exports of C, N, and P in particulate, dissolved, and gaseous forms from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems; (b) changes in biogeochemical cycles of C, N, and P in aquatic ecosystems following/during ECEs; and (c) changes in aquatic ecosystem functions and services as a result of extreme events. Key questions that we seek to address at this conference are:
- How do we define extreme weather events?
- What have we learned from past extreme events and what are the long-term consequences of extreme weather events on aquatic ecosystems?
- How do extreme events influence the export, transport, and transformation of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus along the aquatic continuum extending from the source/headwaters to the sea?
- How are ecosystem structure, functions, and services altered by extreme weather events?
- How do impacts and ecosystem recovery differ for forested, agricultural, and urban landscapes?
- Are new land management strategies and restoration paradigms needed for extreme weather events?