Edgewater, Maryland, US
The world’s coastal regions are home to more than 70 percent of the global population and are also sites of extensive economic activity. Environmental change in these critical ecosystems is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) seeks to quantify, understand, and provide answers to critical questions about the impacts on nature and humanity.
Headquartered on Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, SERC occupies a 2,650-acre campus that encompasses forests, wetlands, marshes, and 16 miles of protected shoreline. Since its founding 50 years ago, SERC has been addressing the nation’s highest research priorities on coastal ecosystems.
Here a team of scientists conducts cutting-edge research into the many pressing issues that affect our coastal ecosystems—water quality, invasive species, the fate and transformations of toxic chemicals in the environment, impacts of rising land and sea temperatures, and the spread of oxygen-poor “dead zones,” among many others.
Specific accomplishments include SERC’s leadership of efforts to rescue blue crabs and other fisheries from decline, and the development of land management strategies to reduce nutrient pollution and promote shoreline stabilization. Additionally, SERC is conducting the world’s longest-running experiment on rising carbon dioxide levels, which simulates what our environment will look like and how it will react to increased carbon in the atmosphere, water, vegetation, and soil at the water’s edge.