Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay Awarded $3.6 Million to Support Research on Resilience in Urban Coastal Ecosystems

The Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay (SRI), a research consortium led by The City University of New York (CUNY), has been awarded $3.6 million from the Department of the Interior’s Hurricane Sandy Mitigation Funding to support research projects that will advance knowledge of resilience in urban coastal ecosystems.

Jamaica Bay is a front door to the Atlantic Ocean for New York City and a part of Gateway National Recreation Area. The Bay contains more than 10,000 acres of city and federal parkland, making it important to wildlife and people alike. Its natural areas are habitat for numerous endangered species, while its beaches, trails and open fields provide recreation opportunities for the area’s surrounding population. Jamaica Bay is also critical to the future of how New York City addresses the threat posed by global climate change and how it absorbs the impact of storms like Hurricane Sandy.

“Jamaica Bay is an outstanding resource,” said Joshua Laird, Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, “and we look forward to collaborating with the Institute on studies focusing on wetlands, water quality, shoreline protection, and ecosystem monitoring there. Along with partners such as the Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Parks Conservancy, these research efforts will help support the design and implementation of restoration practices and other strategies that will enhance the resilience and long-term sustainability of the bay.”

“The City University of New York is deeply grateful to the Department of the Interior for providing vital support to enable research critical to the development of strategies to preserve and protect Jamaica Bay. CUNY’s faculty are providing much-needed expertise in partnership with faculty at other leading research institutions who are committed to the well-being of the ecosystem and to more effective ways to prepare for and respond to future natural events,” said Chancellor James B. Milliken.

The funding provided by DOI will enable the SRI to embark on 10 research projects covering an array of significant topics such as water quality within Jamaica Bay and the health and resilience of its salt marshes, the monitoring and evaluation of current ecosystem restoration efforts and an assessment of barriers to future projects. The research funding will also allow SRI to help evaluate community generated resilience strategies, to catalog the environmental history of Jamaica Bay and to start developing process studies and the groundwork for long-term research. The funded project work will begin immediately and continue through late 2016.

The Science and Resilience Institute is a remarkable joint initiative among the National Park Service, the City of New York, and a Consortium of nine top-tier research institutions. In 2011, the Mayor of New York City and the Secretary of the Interior initiated a partnership designed to restore and revitalize Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Park and develop a joint vision for a new “great urban park.” As part of this effort, a Consortium led by The City University of New York was selected to lead a new Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.

Launching from this solid base of initial research the new SRI is expected to become a regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized source for research on resilience analysis and practice in a highly urbanized environment. It will not only coordinate and lead resilience research; it will contribute toward science-based policy to ensure the sound management of the Bay. Those policies will in turn serve as a model for cities around the world.

“The Institute’s mission is to increase understanding of how disturbances impact natural and human systems in urban watersheds through resiliency-focused research of Jamaica Bay, and to engage government and community stakeholders in the translation of that knowledge toward a more resilient system” said Gillian Small, CUNY Vice Chancellor for Research. “This new funding from The Department of the Interior will significantly advance that mission.”

The SRI will host visiting scientists, provide lab facilities for students and researchers, and convene events to share and disseminate their findings. It has been formally established with a temporary space on the campus of Brooklyn College and plans are underway for a new facility located on Jamaica Bay.

Led by CUNY, the consortium includes Columbia University, Cornell University, the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York Sea Grant, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stony Brook University (SUNY), and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The complete list of funded projects:

· “The environmental history of Jamaica Bay: A foundational monograph,” to be undertaken by John Waldman of CUNY Queens College, $47,000

· “The Jamaica Bay Observing system: Process studies and groundwork for Long-term Ecosystem Research and Resilience,” to be undertaken by John Marra of CUNY Brooklyn College, $790,000

· “Detecting water quality regime shifts in Jamaica Bay,” to be undertaken by Brett Branco of CUNY Brooklyn College, $283,000

· “Health and Resiliency of Salt Marshes in Jamaica Bay,” to be undertaken by J. Kirk Cochran of SUNY Stony Brook University, $276,000

· “Acidification, hypoxia, and algal blooms: Barriers to current and future ecosystem restoration and climate change resilience in Jamaica Bay,” to be undertaken by Christopher Gobler of SUNY Stony Brook University, $248,000

· “Restoration of Jamaica Bay fringing habitats: post-Sandy status and new approaches for a resilient future,” to be undertaken by Steven Handel of Rutgers University, $483,000

· “Coastal Adaptation Impacts on Jamaica Bay Water Quality, Waves and Flooding,” to be undertaken by Philip Orton of Stevens Institute, $700,000

· “Monitoring and Evaluation of Restoration and Resilience: Jamaica Bay Unit Shoreline and Geomorphology,” to be undertaken by Michael DeLuca of Rutgers University, $329,000

· “Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay: Coordination of DOI and NPS Sandy Resilience Projects,” to be undertaken by William Solecki of CUNY Science and Resilience Institute, $85,000

· “Visionmaker Jamaica Bay: Evaluation and synthesis of community generated adaptation strategies to enhance resilient ecosystems in Jamaica Bay, NY,” to be undertaken by Eric Sanderson of Wildlife Conservation Society, $350,000


About The City University of New York:

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health.   The University serves more than 270,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly three million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via, the University’s website.