Archive for the ‘Cooperative Extension’ Category

Weathering the Storm

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Old-timers sharing childhood stories about growing up in Maine sometimes recount hiking 10 miles uphill in 3 feet of snow to get to school — and home.

Turns out those tales, of Maine winters anyway, might not be all that exaggerated.

In the winter of 1904–05, horses pulled huge saws to cut channels in foot-thick ice on Penobscot Bay so maritime traders could deliver goods. And in the winter of 1918, people walked, skated and rode in horse-drawn sleighs across the frozen bay to Islesboro, according to the Belfast Historical Society and Museum.

That same winter, Albert Gray and his companions drove a vehicle across the frozen-solid brine. According to a Bangor Daily News report, the group made several trips in a Ford Model T between Belfast and Harborside, just south of Castine.

Historical records indicate upper Penobscot Bay commonly froze during the winter in the 1800s and early 1900s, says Sean Birkel, research assistant professor with the University of Maine Climate Change Institute (CCI). “Not every year; maybe once or twice a decade.”

February 1934 was the last time it occurred.

Today’s climate is different, he says.

For instance, summer — when the mean daily temperature is above freezing — is about 20 days longer now than it was on average in the late 1800s.

“The lakes really do freeze up later, and ice out is earlier than it used to be,” says Birkel, adding that computer models predict that over the next 40 years, the average temperature in Maine could rise 3–4 degrees Fahrenheit, with most of the warming taking place in winter.

And the number of extreme weather events — like the record-breaking 6.44 inches of rain that flooded Portland on Aug. 13 — has spiked in the last 10 years. Birkel says a 50 to 100 percent increase in rainfall events with more than 2 inches per day has been recorded at weather stations across the state.

The rise of extreme events, including heat and cold waves, is likely tied to the steep decline of Arctic sea ice since about 2000, Birkel says. Studies show rapid warming over the Arctic is changing circulation patterns across the Northern Hemisphere.

In particular, jet stream winds are slowing, which increases the likelihood of blocking events that hold a weather pattern — including heat and cold waves — in place for several days, he says. When blocked patterns finally dissipate, they tend to do so with powerful storm fronts.

Computer models generally predict that in the future, extreme weather events will be the norm, he says.

Birkel and other CCI researchers have developed online tools to assist local community planners prepare for climate changes. The tools — Climate Reanalyzer, 10Green and CLAS Layers — will be explained at the CLAS (Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainability) Conference on Thursday, Oct. 23 at UMaine.

The tools provide users access to station data, climate and weather models, and pollution and health indices, he says.

Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s CCI, says the CLAS software explains past, present and future changes in climate at the community level and introduces a “planning system that invokes plausible scenarios at the community level where local knowledge can be applied to produce local solutions.”

For instance, city leaders considering opening a cooling center for residents can review projections for future frequency of heat waves. Medical care workers can assess the potential for increase in Lyme tick disease. And community planners preparing to replace storm water drains can examine predicted precipitation in coming decades.

Esperanza Stancioff, climate change educator with UMaine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant, says coastal residents and communities need strategies to address sea-level rise and coastal flooding which will result, in part, to melting glaciers and polar ice caps.

UMaine Extension and Maine Sea Grant are among those working with coastal community leaders to help minimize potential hazards to fisheries, aquaculture, working waterfronts and tourism by implementing resilient coastal development strategies and practices, Stancioff says.

Ivan Fernandez, Distinguished Maine Professor in the School of Forest Resources and CCI, says understanding how Maine’s climate is changing is critical for informed risk assessment and cost-effective adaptation.

Warming of the Gulf of Maine impacts the risk of lobster disease as well as market uncertainty, Fernandez says. He points to summer 2012 when warming ocean water resulted in a glut of lobsters and a subsequent bust in prices. In agriculture, rising temperatures can result in an increase of insects and disease, Fernandez says, as well as crop damage and soil erosion due to intense precipitation events.

Opportunities also could result from the changing climate, says Fernandez, including longer growing seasons and emerging shipping lanes in the Arctic Sea due to the receding of the polar ice sheet.

It’s important for businesses to prepare for such changes, says conference presenter John F. Mahon, the John M. Murphy Chair of International Business Policy and Strategy and Professor of Management at UMaine.

“Business has to be engaged with government and other organizations at the local and national level,” says Mahon.

“One of the more useful tools for doing this is the use of plausible scenario planning (PSP). In PSP, we try to envision several plausible futures with equal likelihood of happening and develop a set of ‘warnings’ or ‘indicators’ that tell us which one of the several futures we have identified is unfolding so that we can adapt to it in the most efficient, economical and effective manner.”

On a global scale, Mayewski says climate change is a security issue, as it “impacts human and ecosystem health, the economy; intensifies geopolitical stress; and increases the likelihood of storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and other extreme events.”

In 2012, for instance, 11 weather and climate disasters worldwide killed more than 300 people and caused more than $110 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. The disasters included Hurricane Sandy and the largest drought since the 1930s — which also worsened wildfires that burned more than 9 million acres.

The CLAS framework soon will be expanded to encompass national and international planning capability, says Mayewski, who was featured in Years of Living Dangerously, a nine-part documentary about climate change that Aug. 16 won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.

The CLAS conference, slated from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 23 at Wells Conference Center, costs $45; registration is required by Oct. 13 at online.

Contact: Beth Staples: 207.581.3777

Dill Talks with WLBZ About EEE in Maine Mosquitoes

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Jim Dill, a pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with WLBZ (Channel 2) about EEE and other mosquito-borne illnesses. The Maine Center for Disease Control recently released a report stating a mosquito pool in York tested positive for EEE, a virus that’s transmitted to humans and animals through mosquitoes, WLBZ reported. Although a human case of EEE has never been reported in Maine, a New Hampshire resident is currently being treated for the virus at Maine Medical Center. “It’s a knocking on our doorstep — a human case — and with positive pools of mosquitoes that just means that EEE is in the mosquitoes in that area,” Dill said. He recommended taking steps such as avoiding outdoor activities during dawn and dusk to protect yourself against EEE and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

Yarborough Mentioned in Press Herald Article on Blueberry Branding

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

David Yarborough, a blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about a three-day Blog the Barrens junket for social media users in an effort to promote wild blueberries. The event was sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and included a tour of the Wyman processing plants, a visit to Cherryfield Foods’ barrens and a lesson in raking at Merrill Blueberry Farms. In an attempt to raise awareness about the berry, Yarborough was on hand to offer information, such as the fact that 3 million varieties of wild blueberries grow in Maine.

UMaine Extension Master Gardeners to Host Seed-Saving Workshop

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers will offer a workshop on seed saving at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at Wells Reserve, 342 Laudholm Farm Road.

Why and how gardeners save seeds for the next season will be the focus of the program. Master Gardener Volunteers Cate Fitzgerald Rice, Gail Sawyer and Tinuviel Sampson will explain how to grow, harvest and store healthy seeds, as well as breed unique varieties.

The $7 fee ($5 for Laudholm Trust members) is payable at the event. To register, call UMaine Extension in York County at 207.324.2814 or email rebecca.gowdy@maine.edu. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call Frank Wertheim at 207.324.2814 or 800.287.1535 (in Maine).

The workshop is part of the Four Season Gardening series brought to the Wells Reserve at Laudholm by UMaine Extension’s York County Master Gardener Volunteers.

Maine Sea Grant to Help Run Maine Seaweed Festival, The Forecaster Reports

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

The Forecaster reported the University of Maine’s Maine Sea Grant program is partnering with Hillary Krapf, a holistic healer in Portland, to host the first Maine Seaweed Festival to celebrate the many practical functions of Maine seaweed. The free festival will be held Aug. 30 at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. The Bangor Daily News carried The Forecaster’s report.

AP Quotes Bolton in Article on Lobster Processing Plant Violations

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Jason Bolton, a food safety specialist with the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture, spoke to the Associated Press for an article about Rockland-based Linda Bean’s lobster processing plant stating it has addressed violations cited by the Food and Drug Administration in February. The FDA says it has not yet cleared the firm of violations, according to the article. Bolton told the AP that Bean contacted him for help addressing some of the FDA’s concerns. “In every conversation I had with their plant manager and their chief financial officer, they were very willing to work with me,” Bolton said. Portland Press Herald, Boston Herald and The Boston Globe carried the AP report.

Morse Mentioned in Forecaster Article on Green Crabs

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Dana Morse, a Maine Sea Grant researcher who works at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center, was quoted in The Forecaster’s article, “Even in retreat, green crabs confound Maine shellfish industry.” Morse said there is a small, but motivated group in the state looking for ways to market the crabs. He added one idea — that hasn’t yet panned out — is to use the crabs as bait for the conch fishing industry in Massachusetts.

Moran Talks with MPBN About Maine Apple Crop

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Renae Moran, a tree fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network about this year’s apple crop in Maine. According to the report, experts are predicting an excellent crop this year, with good size and color. Moran said most people who pick their own apples will not see much hail damage, and added most apple farms in Maine get a significant portion of their incomes from pick-your-own and retail farm stand sales. Moran said pick-your-own has started in southern Maine with summer varieties. Activity usually picks up after Labor Day, when the main crop harvest begins the second week in September in southern Maine and continues into October in more northern areas, she said.

Catch the Buzz About Beekeeping

Monday, August 25th, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine State Beekeepers Association (MSBA) will offer Beginner Bee School, 6–8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct. 1-29, at Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen St., Springvale.

Instructor Larry Peiffer, master beekeeper and former MSBA vice president, will discuss honeybee colonies, hive construction, pests and diseases and honey production. During the five-week course, participants will also observe area hives and gain hands-on experience during a field lab. Cost is $90 per person/$130 for two people who share the text and materials. A one-year membership in the York County Beekeepers Association is included with the fee. Sept. 19 is the deadline to register.

More information, including registration, is available online or by contacting the UMaine Extension York County office at 800.287.1535 (in state), 207.324.2814 or rebecca.gowdy@maine.edu. To request a disability accommodation, call Frank Wertheim, 800.287.1535 (in state) or 207.324.2814.

MPBN Cites Cooperative Extension Senior Companion Program

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service Senior Companion Program was mentioned in an MPBN story about House Speaker Mark Eves’ “KeepMe Home” initiative to help senior citizens remain in their homes. The initiative includes a $65 million bond package that would build 1,000 new apartment units for seniors in 40 communities and reduce taxes for seniors. The UMaine Cooperative Extension Service Senior Companion Program encourages independence and promotes quality of life for older adults.