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Volunteers Needed to Collect Beach Profile Data in Scarborough, Current Reports

Current reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension is seeking six to eight volunteers to collect beach profile data for Pine Point in Scarborough in an effort to monitor monthly changes in sand erosion. No prior scientific knowledge is needed. The collected data will be submitted to the Maine Geological Survey and will be used by state geologists who will review and analyze the information to produce reports every two years regarding the effect of climate change on Maine’s beaches, according to the article. The Southern Maine Volunteer Beach Profile Monitoring Program is a project of Maine Sea Grant.

Brady to Study Impact of Climate Change, Farmers’ Practices on Water Quality

A University of Maine marine scientist will examine implications of climate change on farmers’ practices and the ensuing consequences for downstream coastal water systems.

Farmers are planting earlier than they were a few decades ago and that means applying fertilizer earlier and, for some crops, being able to plant twice in a growing season, says Damian Brady, assistant research professor at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine.

Brady will examine where the fertilizer goes and how changes in farming practices affect estuaries downstream that also are being impacted by other climate-related factors, including increased frequency of extreme storms and higher temperatures.

His research will concentrate on understanding these dynamics in Chesapeake Bay; but the findings are expected to apply to agricultural watersheds around the world.

Brady also anticipates learning how management policies with different rules and incentives affect farming behavior and, subsequently, impact watershed and estuary health.

The National Science Foundation awarded Brady nearly $124,000 to create multidisciplinary data-driven simulation models to test scientific hypotheses. The entire project team will provide training for approximately 10 master’s and doctoral students, share tools and knowledge with federal and state environmental management agencies and train 15 high school teachers.

Brady is the project’s assistant director. Collaborators are from The Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

He’ll start the four-year project, titled “WSC-Category 3 Collaborative: Impacts of Climate Change on the Phenology of Linked Agriculture-Water Systems” on Sept. 1.

Press Herald Publishes Koskela’s Op-Ed on Monarch Butterflies

Elissa Koskela, an assistant coordinator of the Signs of the Seasons program coordinated by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant, wrote an opinion piece for the Portland Press Herald about the decline of the monarch butterfly population. Signs of the Seasons is a phenology program that helps scientists document the local effects of global climate change through the work of volunteer citizen scientists who are trained to record the seasonal changes of common plants and animals in their communities.

Christine Lamanna: Using plant ecology to study climate change

Plants that grow in alpine environments are often the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to climate change. A number of plants have disappeared from Acadia National Park despite being protected for nearly a century. Climate change is the prime suspect. Christine Lamanna, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maine’s Sen. George J. Mitchell Center, is working with stakeholders and citizen scientists to figure out what this means for the future of native plants.

Working as part of the Effects of Climate Change on Organisms (ECCO) team at Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), Lamanna and a diverse working group including citizen volunteers are conducting research at Acadia to find out why 20 percent of the park’s plant species have disappeared since the late 1800s. Additionally, Lamanna is creating maps predicting how important species in the state may respond to future climate change — and how those changes could affect the state economically, culturally and ecologically.

A major goal of the ECCO project is to help state decision makers understand and think about climate change impacts in Maine. It is that kind of collaborative engagement that has made working for SSI such a valuable learning experience, Lamanna said.

“My background is plant ecology and climate change. As part of SSI, I’m able to use that knowledge, but turn it to real-world problems that are impacting Maine right now,” she said.

“Through SSI, I’ve been exposed to so many different ways of approaching a problem, several of which challenged my own way of thinking. It wasn’t easy. But I think the experience of working toward a common goal with different people with different views has been invaluable. The breadth of problems SSI teams are tackling and the span of approaches are exciting,” Lamanna said.

She also values the role introspection plays in SSI projects.

“I’m so inspired by the success stories that have come out of SSI, but one thing that I value in particular is that we also turn a critical eye on ourselves, and think about what makes some projects so successful, while others struggle. That self-reflection improves the work we do and makes us all better scientists and collaborators in the future,” she said.

Soon, Lamanna begins a new adventure. She has accepted a research position with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) at their world headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. ICRAF is part of a global consortium of independent research organizations that work on food security, global change and development. As part of her new job, she’ll be helping governments and institutions in East Africa develop climate-smart agriculture portfolios through decision analysis, stakeholder engagement and modeling. The goal is to both increase food security and decrease the environmental impact of agriculture in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and other countries.

Supported by National Science Foundation award EPS-0904155 to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine.

See more about ECCO.

Contact: Tamara Field, 207.420.7755

Handley, Moran Interviewed for MPBN Report on Climate Change, Agriculture

David Handley, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension specialist of vegetables and small fruits at UMaine’s Highmoor Farm in Monmouth, and Renae Moran, a tree fruit specialist with UMaine Extension, were interviewed for a Maine Public Broadcasting Network report titled “Climate change presents Maine farmers with new challenges.” Handley spoke about testing new crops for the region, such as grapes, as the climate changes. Moran, who is currently testing several varieties of peaches, plums and cherries, warns climate change is unpredictable and more research is needed before any farmer is recommended to make a big investment in traditionally warmer weather fruits.

PPH reports UMaine to Add Climate Change Degree

The Portland Press Herald reported the University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved adding a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Maine in Human Dimensions of Climate Change. The Department of Anthropology will begin offering the degree in the fall 2014 semester.

UMaine Climate Change Research Cited in BDN Editorial

A Bangor Daily News editorial titled “Keeping up with Maine’s changing climate” cited several University of Maine initiatives that aim to mitigate the effects of extreme weather. The editorial mentioned the Maine Futures Community Mapper, an online tool developed by Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) that allows people to see the best locations for development, conservation, agriculture or forestry in Maine, and then shows what future landscapes would look like under different scenarios. Research being conducted by SSI with coastal communities to update stormwater plans and identify problem culverts, as well as a bill sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, a researcher and shellfish hatchery manager at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, that will establish a commission to study ocean acidification and how it affects the harvest of shellfish were also mentioned. UMaine’s Climate Change Institute was cited as “one organization with the expertise to guide community leaders in their climate adaptation and sustainability plans.” The CCI will host a workshop at the Wells Conference Center on Oct. 23 to help Maine communities with climate change planning, the editorial states.

SSI Research on Climate Change in Coastal Communities Featured in BDN

The Bangor Daily News article, “UMaine researchers helping coastal communities weather the storms,” focused on a study being conducted by a team of UMaine researchers who are seeking to figure out the effects of climate change on coastal communities. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative. According to the article, the team worked with people from Lincolnville and Ellsworth over 18 months to develop plans to deal with overtapped culverts. The communities were selected as models to generate information that hopefully will have broader applications around the coast. “Culverts are the backbone of infrastructure. They’re super important to communities. When they fail, it can be very expensive and disastrous for homeowners or for businesses, or for people traveling on that road. People have lost their lives,” said team member Esperanza Stancioff, an associate extension professor at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant.

Penobscot Times Reports on Mayewski’s Appearance on Showtime Series

The Penobscot Times reported on the appearance of Paul Mayewski, a University of Maine professor and director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI), on the June 9 series finale of the Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously.” The show is a nine-part documentary series about the impact of climate change on people and the planet. Mayewski was filmed gathering ice cores 20,000 feet atop a glacier on Tupungato, an active Andean volcano in Chile. Mayewski said climate change is causing and will continue to cause destruction, and how scientists and media inform people about the subject is important.

Lindenfeld Quoted in ClimateWire Report on Climate Change in Movies

Laura Lindenfeld, an associate professor of communication and policy at the University of Maine, was interviewed for a ClimateWire article about the rise in fiction films that use climate change to help drive the plot line. Lindenfeld and postdoctoral researcher Bridie McGreavy recently published an article in the International Journal of Sustainable Development about their research on race and gender stereotypes in movies that focus on climate change. Lindenfeld said seeing climate change in popular media is encouraging because it shows society is talking more about the issue. “People consume entertainment media for fun, not to change their way of thinking. But for better or for worse, it is indeed changing the way you experience the world,” she said.                        


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