Chesapeake Community Modeling Program

CCMP Newsletter | July 2014

Volume 7, Issue 1


Greetings!  It's been a while since our last official newsletter.  As you know,  we were busy over the past several months getting ready for the Chesapeake Modeling Symposium which took place May 28th and 29th in Annapolis.  Based on the reaction we've had to date, it was a success.  Check out some stories from the symposium and more below!

As always, please contact Dave Jasinski if you have any questions or comments.



1. CCMP News in brief
2. Open Source on the March
3. Featured Model: NetLogo
4. Featured Modeler: Pasky Pascual

1. CCMP News in Brief

Chesapeake Modeling Symposium 2014

CheMS14 Panel
The Panel discussion on Day 2 of the symposium.

On May 28th and 29th, the CCMP convened its fourth modeling symposium in Annapolis, Maryland. The CCMP hosts this event every other year and the theme of this year’s symposium was “Chesapeake Frontiers: Modeling the watershed, estuary, living resources and the socio-economic system”.

The first day started off with a Plenary Session introduced by Dr. Walter Boynton of the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. The plenary speakers were Gary Shenk (Chesapeake Bay Program Office, James Syvitski (Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System), and James Shortle (Pennsylvania State University). Shenk spoke on the History and Challenges of Chesapeake Bay Watershed Modeling, Syvitski on CSDMS 2.0 - Building the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System and Shortle spoke about Integrating Economic and Environmental Modeling For Water Quality Policy Design. All of the plenary presentations will be available on the Symposium website soon. The remainder of the first day was devoted to special sessions.

Day two began with a panel discussion about “Politics, Policy and Science: Successes, Failures, and the Future of Science and Modeling in Chesapeake Bay”. The discussion was moderated by Lee Curry of the Maryland Department of the Environment. The Panelist were:

  • Russ Baxter - VADEQ
  • Beth Boyer - PSU
  • Bill Dennison - UMCES
  • Rich Batiuk - CBP
  • Peggy Sanner - CBF
  • Tom Miller - UMCES
  • Tom O'Connell - MDDNR
  • Pasky Pascual - USEPA
  • Kevin Sellner – CRC

The discussion was animated with the focus on the successes and failures of the Bay restoration effort. Some of the successes mentioned included the Clean Air Act, TMDLs, Restoration Partnerships that have developed, Nitrogen reductions, and politicians ignoring politics to do what’s right for the Bay. Panelists were not shy about mentioning the failures, which included the Oyster Fishery, waste from the Poultry Industry, and that agricultural nutrient management is now a political issue. Some other observations from the panel:

  • When discussing nutrient management, it is a good idea to associate cost, ecosystem benefit, and ecosystem services with the proposed nutrient reductions. This should be done at the river system level.
  • There has been a general miscommunication that there is a single option for a sustainable ecosystem. There are actually several and Managers should know which one the public wants.
  • There is a need to coordinate the communications efforts of the many Chesapeake Bay advocacy groups so they are all communicating their message using the same terminology and themes.
  • Stakeholders should be involved in model development at the start so they then become advocates for the results.

Some facts about the Symposium:

  • Number of Attendees: 125
  • Number of Presentations: 66
  • Number of Posters: 9
  • Number of Students: 24
  • Number of Sessions: 10

The attendance was down slightly from that in 2012 but I think that all who were there would agree that the quality of the sessions and presentations was top notch! Looking forward to the next Symposium in 2016!

The Chesapeake Guardian Award

ccmp panel discussion
Raleigh Hood presents Kevin Sellner with the Sellner Chesapeake Guardian Award at the 2014 Chesapeake Modeling Symposium.

Dr. Kevin Sellner was awarded the CCMP “Sellner Chesapeake Guardian Award” at the 2014 Chesapeake Modeling Symposium for “Exceptional Service Dedicated to the Advancement of Community Modeling in the Chesapeake Bay Region”. The CCMP has established this award in Kevin’s honor in appreciation for his more than 30 years of research, guidance and service to the Chesapeake Bay research, management and policy maker communities. In the presentation, several of Kevin’s many contributions were cited. These include:

  • Vigilance in helping to guide and provide oversight of CBP modeling activities on the Chesapeake Bay Program modeling subcommittee
  • Contributions to and support of the CBP Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee
  • Revitalization of the Chesapeake Research Consortium
  • And his critical role in establishing the CCMP

This will be a standing award presented every 2 years in Kevin’s name.

In 2001, Kevin joined the Chesapeake Research Consortium (CRC) as Director after twenty years of active research in plankton ecology at the Academy of Natural Sciences and a four-year period with NOAA's Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research. Kevin’s research focused on determining the fate of primary production in aquatic systems, particularly algal blooms. At NOAA, he acted as the coordinator for the interagency research program ECOHAB (Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms) and during his tenure, over $50M was committed to bloom research in U.S. coastal waters.

As CRC Director, Kevin has been responsible for helping to identify and expand research activities in the Chesapeake Bay and it’s watershed for the scientific community within the CRC member institutions as well as other regional scientists. Kevin has also been strongly committed to ensuring transfer of research results to regional managers and policy makers for consideration in policy development for the Bay, its sub-estuaries, and non-tidal areas. As Executive Secretary of the CBP's Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), Kevin has been responsible for administering the activities of this standing committee of experts that provide scientific and technical guidance to the Chesapeake Bay Program on measures to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.

“It's only through consideration of the most recent research results of the outstanding scientific community of the area that the most practical and scientifically defensible management of the watershed and its living resources can be assured.” - Kevin G. Sellner

Kevin has announced that he will be retiring this year. With this award we recognize, in perpetuity, his commitment and contributions. All who live and work in and around Chesapeake Bay have benefitted from Kevin’s many years of dedicated service.

Multiple Models for Chesapeake Bay Management

In February 2013 the Chesapeake Bay Program’s (CBP) Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee convened a workshop exploring the incorporation of multiple management models into the CBP’s modeling suite. STAC has made repeated recommendations to the CBP that a multiple modeling approach be applied to the management effort. The purpose of the workshop was to investigate both the positive and negatives of this approach. Over fifty regional and national modeling experts participated.

The workshop findings will are available in a report and fact sheet via the STAC website ( Below are the four workshop recommendations.

  1. The CBP should implement a multiple modeling strategy for each major decision-making model of the Bay (airshed, land use, watershed, and estuary) and analyze the output to quantify skill, advance knowledge, and inform adaptive management.
  2. The CBP should exercise the multiple model systems developed under Recommendation 1 to quantify model uncertainty and confidence in key predictions used in decision-making.
  3. The CBP should estimate and better communicate the appropriate levels of spending on monitoring, modeling, and research relative to the costs of implementation and the cost of sub-optimal decision-making.
  4. The CBP should implement ways to better communicate modeling, uncertainty, and multiple model results to partners, decision makers, and the public.

In the report, STAC makes the point that Multiple Modeling is essential to support he claim that CBO is exploiting the best possible science. They also stress that although CBP is clearly interested in the use of multiple models, this should not undermine confidence in the existing modeling framework nor provide a rational for delaying or halting TMDL implementation.

Comparison of Shallow-water Models for Use in Supporting Chesapeake Bay Management Decision-making

Because of the size and complexity of the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) must rely on computer models to guide their decision-making and understand the impacts of various environmental actions to reduce pollution in the Bay. The shallow waters of the Bay (< 3 m deep) are of great interest to the CBP, as they are some of the most difficult to simulate with the current CBP Model framework, and because this is where some of the most significant initial effects of management efforts may be observed. As a result, the CBP Partnership is currently directing efforts towards the improvement of this component of the CBP Model framework, and specifically has funded three shallow water modeling teams (lead by Jeremy Testa (UMD), Joseph Zhang (VIMS) and Richard Zimmerman (ODU), respectively) and a model comparison team (lead by Marjorie Friedrichs (VIMS) and Raleigh Hood (UMD)) who will be responsible for the quantitative evaluation and comparison of the multiple linked shallow water hydrodynamic+water quality models. Simulated distributions of temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, chlorophyll and water clarity will be compared to observations collected at the shallow water continuous monitoring sites in the Chester River. In the second year of the project, model results generated from various nutrient reduction strategies will be quantitatively compared. Ultimately this work will enable more effective adaptive management and accountability, and build increased scientific, management and stakeholder community confidence in the tools used to support and inform partnership collaborative decision-making.

2. Open Source on the March

The Good Judgment Project

PeerJA group of psychologists are partnering with the CIA to harness the “wisdom of the crowd” to forecast geo-political events. Named the Good Judgment Project, the program has recruited 3000 average citizens to routinely answer questions on the likelihood of potential geo-political events. An example question: “Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile before May 10, 2014?”

Participants are given training in calculating probabilities. They respond to each question with the probability of it occurring. The majority of respondents are generally off the mark but when the responses are pooled and averaged, they are remarkably accurate. Even more so than trained intelligence analysts with access to classified information. If you are interested in participating in round 4 of the project you can sign up at

Could this be the future of forecasting environmental conditions in Chesapeake Bay?

3. Featured Model: NetLogo

NetLogoThis issue, our featured model is NetLogo. NetLogo was developed by Uri Wilensky in 1999 to model natural and social phenomena. Since that time, it has been in continuous development by the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling at Northwestern University. NetLogo is based on the Logo programming language which was developed in 1967 as an educational programming language. NetLogo is very education focused as well and was developed so that teachers and students can model complex systems without having to be modelers or programmers themselves.

A NetLogo user models a system through the use of agents. The user defines and sets variable for these agents and then based on these variables, the agents interact when the model is run. There can be hundreds to thousands of agents in any model. In the learning environment, individual agents can be controlled manually in real time in the classroom through a NetLogo tool called HubNet. There is a suite of existing models that are included with the NetLogo download that you can use and modify. NetLogo also features 3d modeling capabilities as well as a large extensions library. Check it out at

4. Featured Modeler: Pasky Pascual

Pasky Pasqual USEPA Headquarters
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460


Pasky Pascual is an environmental scientist and lawyer who works for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He currently serves as Director for the EPA's Council for Regulatory Environmental Modeling. His primary interest is in the area of regulatory decision-making, and he has published papers on the judicial review of regulatory science. Pasky began his work at EPA with the Climate Change Division, during which he worked with non-governmental organizations to help measure the greenhouse gases avoided through projects funded by the EPA. He followed this up with work on an initiative spearheaded by the Clinton Administration, leading stakeholders from industry, government, and the NGO sector to develop approaches to facilitate management that combined environmental performance, regulatory flexibility, and economic efficiency. He led efforts within EPA's Research and Development Office to look at the emerging risks and opportunities associated with bio- and nano-technology.

Recently, Pasky participated in the STAC-sponsored workshop on multiple models, providing legal perspectives on the pros and cons of using multiple models to inform management decisions. His contributions to this meeting were central to a key meeting conclusion: that using multiple models is a legal asset rather than a liability. Pasky also participated as a panelist in the ChesMS14 panel discussion on "Politics, Policy and Science: Successes, Failures and the Future of Science and Modeling in Chesapeake Bay". He provided valuable legal insights into some of the success and failures in past efforts to reduce nutrient loads to Chesapeake Bay.

Chesapeake Community Model Program
Chesapeake Research Consortium
Edgewater, MD

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