Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative

From data collection to decision support for a changing Bay

Sentinel site surveying in a Chesapeake Bay marsh.The Chesapeake Bay region is currently experiencing some of the highest relative sea level rise rates, up to 5.8 mm/yr (0.23 in/yr), reported within the United States.  Natural resources and built infrastructure in both metropolitan and rural areas are experiencing direct impacts of rising tidal water levels including inundation and salt intrusion.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has initiated a Sentinel Site Program (SSP) to encourage federal, state and local partners to cooperatively address impacts of climate change, with an initial emphasis placed on rising sea levels. 

In 2011, NOAA selected Chesapeake Bay as one of five initial regional Sentinel Site Cooperatives (SSC) to demonstrate the value of using a place-based approach to address issues of local, regional and national significance.  The sentinel site network strategy will leverage existing assets, programs, and resources; additionally, targeted investment from multiple groups at similar sites will dramatically increase the effectiveness of these efforts.

The Chesapeake Bay SSC represents a partnership effort to integrate existing science agencies, academic institutions and other organizations with relevant living resources, water quality and geospatial monitoring and data synthesis capacity.  The purpose of this partnership is to increase understanding of environmental and socioeconomic changes attributable to sea level rise and apply that information in a timely manner to address interests and management concerns with respect to Bay living resources and coastal communities.

Vegetation plot surveyPriority strategies for the Chesapeake Bay SSC include:

  • establishing an integrated network of habitat sentinel sites;
  • developing information products;
  • supporting modeling efforts;
  • enhancing data availability; and
  • providing advisory services.

Upcoming Events


Downloadable Resources Materials

Point of Contact:

  • Sally Lawrence, (  Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve/VIMS

Interim Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative Steering Committee:

  • Sean Corson, NOAA, Chesapeake Bay Office
  • Chris Cortina, Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Jennifer Faught, NOAA, Climate Program Office
  • Christine Gallagher, NOAA, National Geodetic Survey
  • Phillipe Hensel, NOAA, National Geodetic Survey
  • Laurie McGilvray, NOAA, Estuarine Reserves Division
  • Shep Moon, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
  • William Reay, Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • Kevin Sellner, Chesapeake Research Consortium