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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012, Article ID 450685, 23 pages
Research Article

An Adaptive Framework for Selecting Environmental Monitoring Protocols to Support Ocean Renewable Energy Development

1Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882, USA
2Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI 02882, USA
3Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, South Kingstown, RI 02879, USA
4College of the Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA
5College of Engineering, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI 02882, USA

Received 17 August 2012; Accepted 23 September 2012

Academic Editors: A. Azzellino and J. P. Kofoed

Copyright © 2012 Emily J. Shumchenia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Offshore renewable energy developments (OREDs) are projected to become common in the United States over the next two decades. There are both a need and an opportunity to guide efforts to identify and track impacts to the marine ecosystem resulting from these installations. A monitoring framework and standardized protocols that can be applied to multiple types of ORED would streamline scientific study, management, and permitting at these sites. We propose an adaptive and reactive framework based on indicators of the likely changes to the marine ecosystem due to ORED. We developed decision trees to identify suites of impacts at two scales (demonstration and commercial) depending on energy (wind, tidal, and wave), structure (e.g., turbine), and foundation type (e.g., monopile). Impacts were categorized by ecosystem component (benthic habitat and resources, fish and fisheries, avian species, marine mammals, and sea turtles) and monitoring objectives were developed for each. We present a case study at a commercial-scale wind farm and develop a monitoring plan for this development that addresses both local and national environmental concerns. In addition, framework has provided a starting point for identifying global research needs and objectives for understanding of the potential effects of ORED on the marine environment.