With a $20 million grant, Maine is positioned to become a leader in addressing sustainability challenges. The five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research will be coupled with a $1 million match each year from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund. UMaine and all collaborating partners will also contribute an additional $1 million per year of in-kind support in the form of faculty salaries and use of research facilities.
Led by UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center, core research teams from UMaine and USM, as well as government and industry stakeholders, will be brought together to improve the science and practice of sustainable development.
The initiative will create a collaborative Center for Sustainability Solutions and implement related K–20 educational activities for more than 15,000 participants.
By creating partnerships with many of Maine’s colleges and universities for research and education efforts, the center is designed to advance economic and community development while protecting the environment. It also will provide support for 200 to 300 people, mainly in the research sector, with the ultimate goal of building capacity for generating solutions to a range of challenging problems and resulting in healthy economies and ecosystems for Maine.
Preparing for the Future
University of Maine faculty members presented the report “Maine’s Climate Future: An Initial Assessment,” to Gov. John Baldacci. UMaine professors described their findings to the governor and his cabinet at that group’s weekly meeting.
The report is the university’s response to the governor’s 2007 request for a preliminary analysis of the effects of climate change in Maine during the 21st century. The report considers past climate change, recent evidence of accelerated rates of change, and the implications of continued climate change in Maine as a result of greenhouse gas emissions and their associated pollutants.
Teams of participating scientists volunteered their time and expertise to initiate a process that can both inform and facilitate systematic planning and thoughtful decisions related to Maine’s climate change challenges.
The study documents an increasing rate of warming in Maine over the last century, as well as increased regional sea surface temperatures, increased precipitation, rising sea levels, and hydrologic changes in snow melt, lake ice- out, and spring runoff. Modeling of Maine’s future climate performed for the assessment shows a strong trend toward warmer conditions with more precipitation in all four seasons. Subsequent sections of the report detail how these climate changes will affect Maine people, ecosystems, and various economic sectors such as agriculture, forest products, and tourism.
The authors acknowledge Maine’s leadership in addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but stress that Maine also needs a plan for adaptation during what they describe as “a period of transition.”
The report highlights opportunities for Maine to benefit from a changing climate, and identifies gaps in knowledge and the information needed for a positive transition in the 21st century.
The report was prepared under the leadership of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and Maine Sea Grant with support from the Vice President for Research; Office of the Dean, College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture; Center for Research on Sustainable Forests; Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research; Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative; and the Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences.
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