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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Portland Press Herald interviewed Sean Birkel, a research assistant professor at the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, for a story about Maine and Vermont having the fastest rise in annual average temperature in the United States during the past 30 years.
The average annual temperature in both states increased 2.5 degrees from 1984 to 2013 — about twice the average warming nationwide — according to an AP analysis of the National Climatic Data Center report.
Birkel told the Portland Press Herald that part of Maine’s winter warming trend is attributable to melting Arctic sea ice. As the sea ice melts, Birkel says the darker ocean absorbs sunlight, which further heats the air. “As the Arctic warms, Maine and the North will warm because that is where the airflow is coming from” in winter, Birkel said.
The Pen Bay Pilot ran an article about a study conducted by a former University of Maine researcher that indicates lakes in New England and the Adirondack Mountains are recovering more quickly now from the effects of acid rain than they did in the 1980s and 1990s.
Kristin Strock, a former doctoral student at UMaine, says sulfate concentration in rain and snow has dropped 40 percent and nitrate concentration has declined by more than 50 percent in the 2000s. The Clean Air Act enacted in the U.S. in 1970, as well as subsequent amendments, have helped reduce emissions of sulfur and nitrogen by 51 and 43 percent, respectively, between 2000 and 2010, Strock said.
Research by University of Maine’s Daniel Belknap, a professor of Earth sciences, and Daniel Sandweiss, a professor of anthropology and Quaternary and climate studies, was mentioned in a Scientific American podcast and a Spiegel Online blog post. The researchers studied how demographic and economic effects of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire altered landscape development on the Chira beach-ridge plain in northern coastal Peru.
Elissa Koskela, an assistant coordinator of the Signs of the Seasons program coordinated by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Sea Grant, wrote an opinion piece for the Bangor Daily News titled “Wondering how climate change is affecting us now? Citizen scientists have a role to play.” 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.