Jenny Shrum, Ph.D student, Researches the Connections Between Climate Change and Maple Syrup Production

Posted February 24, 2014

Jenny Shrum, a Ph.D. candidate in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program, seeks to understand what factors influence sap flow in maple trees, how climate change may influence the factors, and how Maine maple syrup producers will be affected. Shrum is interested both in the biophysical relationships as well as the human dimensions and implications of a changing maple syrup season. She will be using on-site weather station data and sap flow rates at three different Maine test sites to better understand the process of sap flow and how exactly freeze-thaw events stimulate that process. Recent data has suggested that the timing and sequence of these events has been shifting, potentially altering the sugaring season in Maine. Shrum also wants to understand how this, and other potential climate change impacts, will affect maple syrup producers and how. Larger operations, for which sap collection is their primary business, will likely be able to adjust to seasonal changes, but smaller producers may be adversely affected. “They might not be able to change their season,” she says. “A lot of the smaller operators have multiple jobs; they make money off maple syrup, but also in other fields such as woodcutting or construction. It just so happens maple syrup is a block of time when they’re not doing anything else, so it makes sense. But if that season changes, it might not fit into their schedule as well.” Despite this, Shrum feels confident that maple syrup production will remain a possibility in Maine. For further information, please go here.