Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Improved Fish Advisory for Pregnant Women

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

fishadvisoryTwo studies by researchers at UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) uncovered compelling data on women’s knowledge of both the dangers and health benefits of eating fish while pregnant. The first study found that Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) advisory led women to decrease their consumption of fish, while a follow-up study found a newly-designed advisory led to a healthier, more balanced approach to fish consumption.

Mario Teisl, Professor in the School of Economics, will present and discuss results of the studies, which were published in two peer-reviewed journals, as a featured speaker at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish.

See more…

SSI Grad Plans for Sustainable Future

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Karen Hutchins Bieluch’s doctoral research focused on building smarter, stronger community partnerships to promote sustainability. It went to the heart of the mission at UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative at the Sen. George J. Mitchell Center.
 
Take her survey of municipal officials in the state of Maine.
 
Her work with these critical stakeholders resulted in an important finding: the factor that made these officials most likely to consider a problem-solving partnership with a university was personal belief.  In other words, a municipal official’s own belief that a venture held value or that researchers could offer important perspectives led to greater openness. Working with a team from SSI’s Knowledge-to-Action Collaborative, Bieluch sent surveys to more than 2,400 municipal officials in Maine and had a rousing response, with over 1,000 surveys returned. About 86 percent of Maine municipalities are represented in the results. See more about Karen…

Forest Certification Under the Microscope

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

woodlotthumbnailNote: A previous version of this story did not clarify that the research project described below is not yet complete and has not undergone peer review. This version of the story includes this clarification.

Forest certification was created 20 years ago to accomplish a noble, but market-minded goal: foster environmental stewardship in the nation’s privately-owned forests while offering landowners an economic advantage when bringing their products to market.

It seemed like a good deal for all. Maine’s forest land would be sustained as a sound, renewable resource and landowners, mainly of big timber companies, would be allowed to label products with a green certification – a designation meant to appeal to a growing population of environmentally-conscious consumers.

But research supported in part by UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) has uncovered data indicating a good portion of the state’s 8 million acres of certified forest land – located primarily in Northern Maine – is being overharvested. In other words, tree takeaway exceeds tree growth.

Although this study is not yet complete and has not undergone peer review, researchers say the findings raise questions about the long-term sustainability of timber harvest in Maine – and the ability of certification to effect change. See more on this story…

Accelerated Recovery of Maine Lakes

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

A Senator George J. Mitchell Center researcher was part of a team that discovered lakes in the Northeast U.S. are recovering from the effects of acid rain more rapidly now than they did in the 1980s and 1990s.
 
Sarah Nelson, assistant research professor with the Mitchell Center and cooperating assistant research professor in Watershed Biogeochemistry in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, along with colleagues made the discovery in New England and Adirondack Mountain lakes.

She said the accelerated recovery is promising after a long legacy of contamination.

“It took about 150 years for the legacy of pollution to build up in these lakes, so it makes sense that it will take some time for the lakes to recover,” Nelson said. ” It takes time for environmental change to happen. We need long-term monitoring, like decades-long research to track progress.” See more…

News Feature on SSI Team’s Online Mapping Tool

Friday, May 30th, 2014

mapperA news piece on the Maine Futures Community Mapper (MFCM) is featured on Forests for Maine’s Future’s website. MFCM, a project of  Sustainability Solutions Initiative’s (SSI) Alternative Futures Team, is a cutting edge online tool that allows town planners, conservationists, developers, and the general public to visualize what the landscape in their area may look like under various future scenarios. Support for the project was provided through a National Science Foundation award to Maine EPSCoR at UMaine. Forests for Maine’s Future is a partnership between four organizations: Maine Tree Foundation, Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, Maine Forest Service, and the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests at the University of Maine. Click here to see the story

SSI Research Featured in National Climate Assessment Report

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

floodthumbnailResearch being conducted through the University of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) was highlighted in the National Climate Assessment report recently released by President Barack Obama, which found global warming is directly affecting life in Maine and other New England states.

See full UMaine News post…

SSI-Funded Team Works With Lobstermen to Study Fish Caught in Traps

Monday, May 19th, 2014

cusk2Cusk don’t have much charisma. The cod-like intruders slide out of lobster traps with bubbling skin, regurgitated stomachs and bulging eyes. They have no real commercial viability and virtually no name recognition. 

But in the Gulf of Maine, these bottom feeders are bellying into the klieg lights. 

Cusk, which are hauled to the surface offshore as accidental “bycatch”, have been designated a “species of concern” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That means the administration is concerned about dipping population numbers. If cusk become scarce enough, the fish could become an official protected species – a move that could restrict commercial fishing territory in the gulf, some of which has been worked by lobstering families for decades. 

With a grant from the Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), a program of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center at UMaine, researchers have begun working with lobstermen in several communities to better understand how they interact with cusk, how often these interactions occur, and whether a voluntary safe-release system is possible. See more on this story…

High-tech Wind Farm Simulation Awaits Monhegan Island Tourists

Monday, May 19th, 2014

aquawindpowerWhen tourists visit Monhegan Island this summer, they may get a trip to the virtual future. 

Armed with digital tablets and headphones, a group of UMaine student researchers will offer willing participants a chance to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of a scenario that could impact their experience of the island: the proposed offshore wind farm. Using an experiential technology known as “augmented reality”, researchers will offer tourists a glimpse and an earful of what could be “actual reality” in the near future. 

With a grant from UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), a program of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center, Giudice, and a team of faculty and student researchers will use the technology to garner opinions on the two-turbine Maine Aqua Ventus project proposed for an area about two miles off Monhegan. Participants will be interviewed before and after the high-tech encounter to measure its impact. The research is being funded by SSI’s Emerging Opportunities – Foundations for Future Research grant program. Focused on broadening the scope of SSI, these projects offer researchers a chance to engage new stakeholders in new places in new ways. See more here

High School Students Conducting Research on Maine’s Critical Snowpack

Monday, May 19th, 2014

snopackpicThis winter, teams of Maine high school students trudged through harsh conditions to measure snow depths at different sites around the state. It wasn’t a typical science class exercise. The students and their teachers were engaged in serious research, scientific inquiries that could have real impact in the state. 

Guided by their teachers, the students from Old Town High School and Bangor High School studied the nature of snowpack, snowfall and timing of snowmelt in Maine’s various climate zones.

The data are of real value to scientists since they have no snow depth/snowmelt information for large swaths of the state. Funding  for this project was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Researchers from  the Senator George J. Mitchell Center at UMaine, UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) partnered on the study. Students presented early results of their fieldwork on May 8 at the Acadia Learning Student Research Symposium held at the Mitchell Center. See more on this story…

SSI Graduate Accepts Position with New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST)

Monday, May 19th, 2014

mcgreavynewBridie McGreavy’s doctoral work at UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, a program of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center, extended far beyond the constructs of her discipline and far beyond the boundaries of the university. A research fellow on SSI’s Knowledge-to-Action team, her work focused on building more resilient partnerships between stakeholders – such as communities or non-governmental entities – and universities. She looked at the influence of and potential improvements in communications that could in turn enhance the chance of successful sustainability collaborations. McGreavy has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST). Led by UMaine’s Mitchell Center and the University of New Hampshire, NEST is a regional research partnership focused on strengthening the scientific basis for decision-making in the management of coastal systems. Her research with this group will continue to focus on communication and collaboration. See more on this story…