Archive for the ‘Hancock County’ Category

Maine Development Foundation, UMaine Issue Report on Personal Income in Maine

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

On Oct. 17, the Maine Development Foundation and the University of Maine’s School of Economics and Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center released the second quarterly report analyzing critical economic indicators in Maine. The latest report looks at Maine’s relatively low per capita personal income. The first report, released in August, addressed Maine’s comparatively low level of worker productivity. Ann Acheson, a research associate at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, wrote the new report that analyzes the relative contribution of the three sources of personal income — earned income, investment income and transfer payment income — in Maine and in comparison to the national average. The Maine Development Foundation news release and the full report are online.


‘Sustainable Maine’ Series to Air on MPBN

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

MPBN will air season three of the Maine EPSCoR produced “Sustainable Maine” series, highlighting the research of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), based at UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center. SSI is helping communities solve interconnected economic problems while advancing sustainability science. Information about the MPBN documentary series is online.

The broadcast schedule is:

Return of a River – Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 9 p.m.
(Repeating on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 10 AM and Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 1 p.m.)

Tipple Bottom Line – Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.)

Culvert Operations – Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 9 p.m.
(Repeating on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 10 AM and Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 1 p.m.)

Desperate Alewives – Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.)

Preserving Paradise – Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9 p.m.
(Repeating on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 10 AM and Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 1p.m.)

Saving Our Lakes – Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.)

Basket Trees – Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 9 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 1 p.m.)

Pools, Policy & People – Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.)

University of Maine, Maine Maritime Academy and Partners Receive $983,997 from the NSF for the creation of a unique offshore wind-wave generating system

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

The University of Maine, Maine Maritime Academy, Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) were awarded a $983,997 energy grant from the National Science Foundation for the creation of a new wind and wave generating system.

W² will be a unique, multidirectional system that will consist of a rotating open-jet wind tunnel positioned over a deep-wave basin that will be designed to work together. Using a programmable directional wave maker, wave and wind conditions similar to those in the Gulf of Maine and beyond will be simulated.

This type of system is not available anywhere else in the country.

Data collected from the project can be used to develop test standards for floating structures, particularly those requiring wind and wave interaction, such as offshore floating wind turbines.

The system also has the potential to create better understanding of wave and wind effects in the ocean that can help researchers develop new methods of capturing renewable energy, optimize the performance of existing renewable energy devices and construct future offshore infrastructures, according to a press release issued Wednesday by U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.

“Researchers at the University of Maine and their world-class partners have demonstrated ingenuity in seeking new ways to capture Maine’s abundant supply of offshore deepwater wind energy through the launch of the nation’s first grid-connected offshore floating wind turbine prototype in May,” Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. “The construction of the Wind-Wave generating system will provide students and scientists with invaluable information regarding the ocean’s interaction with offshore infrastructure as they seek to build on their already considerable achievements.”

Other uses of the equipment include testing by ocean energy developers and those in the offshore oil and gas industry; studying of wave interaction with beaches and structures by coastal engineers; and examination of the wind dispersal of marine pollutants by oil spill management companies. The facility will also be available to undergraduate and graduate students for research and will benefit K–12 students during STEM educational activities.

Krish Thiagarajan, the University of Maine’s Alston D. and Ada Lee Correll Presidential Chair in Energy and mechanical engineering professor, is the principal investigator of the project. Co-principal investigators include UMaine engineering professors Habib Dagher, Andrew Goupee and Qingping Zou, as well as Maine Maritime Academy professor Richard Kimball.

The system will be located in the Wave Wind Laboratory, a new addition to the Advanced Structures and Composites Center on the UMaine campus.

Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Maine and New Hampshire EPSCoR Receive $6 Million to Address Health of Coastal Ecosystem

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Maine and New Hampshire’s coastal tourism and shellfish industries contribute millions of dollars annually to the regional economy. In Maine in 2010, coastal tourism and recreation added $1.1 billion to Maine’s gross domestic product, while shellfish landings in that same year generated revenues of $347 million. But these industries and the coastal environment they depend on are vulnerable to a variety of factors, including pollution, climate change and invasive species.

A team of researchers led by the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire will conduct a three-year study of the many factors affecting the health of their shared coastal ecosystem. This collaboration, funded by a $6 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), aims to strengthen the scientific basis for decision making related to the management of recreational beaches and shellfish harvesting. This research is a direct outgrowth of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, supported by the NSF EPSCoR program.

The project, titled the New England SusTainability Consortium (NEST), is managed by the EPSCoR programs at UMaine and UNH in partnership with College of the Atlantic, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, Great Bay Community College, Plymouth State University and Keene State College. In Maine, researchers will also collaborate with several state agencies and other stakeholders, including the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine State Department of Education and Maine Healthy Beaches.

“I am delighted that the National Science Foundation selected the New England SusTainability Consortium, for this Research Infrastructure Improvement grant,” said Sen. Susan Collins. “Through both tourism as well as commercial fishing, our state’s economy is highly dependent on the ecological well-being of the Gulf of Maine. This grant will help fund the vital research performed by faculty and students at the University of Maine as they seek to find ways to reduce pollution caused by coastal runoff and assist local governments in making informed decisions regarding the closure of beaches and shellfish beds.”

“This is good news for Maine, and indeed for all coastal areas,” said Sen. Angus King. “Our shellfish industry is facing many threats an climate change, warming oceans, acidifying waters, and an increase in green crabs, which are decimating clam flats. Our state simply can’t lose another fishery. I look forward to seeing the results of the good work that this grant will enable, like hopefully more targeted closures of flats. Our changing environment is a big problem, and while we work out broad solutions, we must also focus on mitigating the direct impacts on people and ecosystems.”

UMaine President Paul W. Ferguson affirmed the project’s importance, stating, “This NSF grant recognizes the leadership and contribution of University of Maine scholars who aim to support coastal ecosystems, economies, and communities by promoting sustainable policies and practices in Maine.”

The project combines scientific knowledge and local expertise to improve resource management decisions. There is widespread agreement among resource managers and scientists in both states that current beach and shellfish management decisions are challenging and can be improved by strengthening partnerships among scientists, managers and communities.

NEST uses a collaborative process where resource managers and other stakeholders participate in defining problems, identifying research needs, interpreting results and designing solutions. The team will select a number of study sites in each state to investigate how natural processes like water flow in rivers, and human activities like land development, in coastal watersheds influence bacterial dynamics. Project research will advance understanding of how environmental and climatic conditions affect the dynamics of bacterial pathogens. The project studies how human activities contribute to and are affected by these bacterial dynamics and related public resource management decisions. Coupling these distinct strands of research offers a more comprehensive view of beach and shellfish management. This innovative approach seeks to generate cost-effective strategies for reducing bacterial pollution. By identifying solutions that strategically avert risks to humans, while supporting economic development and ecosystem health, NEST will develop regional capacity between Maine and New Hampshire to advance sustainability solutions through science.

Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) is supported in large part by a $20 million, five-year investment through the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR Program). SSI enhances Maine’s research capacity and promotes innovation and societal benefit through the field of sustainability science. This innovative initiative represents an extensive network of over 350 researchers and students and more than 200 community-based stakeholders working together to advance solutions across Maine.

Contact: Andrea Littlefield, 207.581.2289

Sensor Buoy to Help Answer Questions About Declining Water Clarity in Acadia National Park

Friday, July 12th, 2013

A state-of-the-art sensor buoy system has been deployed in Jordan Pond at Acadia National Park to begin a high-tech water quality monitoring program in light of recent concerns about decreasing clarity in what is considered one of the clearest lakes in Maine.

The monitoring program is made possible by a partnership led by Friends of Acadia, Acadia National Park and the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute. Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is the official sponsor for the program. Through Canon’s support, Friends of Acadia was able to purchase a NexSens CB-400 Data Buoy and hire a full-time aquatic scientist, Courtney Wigdahl of Topsham to monitor the study.

Friends of Acadia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to projects that preserve and protect Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island communities. Wigdahl is an alumna of the University of Maine, where she did her Ph.D. and postdoctoral research with Jasmine Saros, associate director of the Climate Change Institute.

The 187-acre Jordan Pond is 150 feet deep — the deepest and the second largest of the 26 lakes and ponds on the island. Described as one of Acadia’s most pristine lakes with exceptional water quality, Jordan Pond is the water supply for Seal Harbor.

Since 1985, the Park Service has manually monitored water quality on a monthly basis throughout Acadia’s waterways. In Jordan Pond, data analysis has shown that water clarity has been declining since the mid-1990s. In the past four years alone, water clarity has shifted from 14 meters to 12 meters, as measured using a secchi disk.

To determine the potential causes of clarity loss, as well as the effects on the broader ecosystem, the water quality monitoring will be automated with the help of the buoy sited in the deepest part of Jordan Pond. With the latest sensor technology, the buoy will monitor nearly 100 data points every day, including the amount of algae and organic material in the water column, and water pH and temperature. The data will be compiled and transmitted every 15 minutes to a receiving station located at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant.

The buoy, which will be visible approximately 2 feet above the water surface, will be in Jordan Pond for the next four months, and then will be redeployed in the spring.

The automated monitoring will provide a more comprehensive perspective on water conditions, and inform decisions about lake protection measures. Just as important, it will monitor conditions before, during and after major weather events to understand the changes the pond undergoes.

“This is likely not an isolated case. We think it is indicative of what’s happening in many lakes in Maine,” says Saros, who has been studying the lakes in Acadia National Park for the past five years, looking at the effects of and recovery from acid rain, and the effects of climate change. “Many lakes in Maine are brown because of natural organics. Jordan has a low concentration of that, but it may be increasing.

“If the changes in Jordan Pond are largely because of air pollution reduction, it’s important to know that the lake is returning to a previous state and the reduction in clarity is not a concern,” says Saros, who will lead the data analysis. “If it’s more of a sign of changes in climate with the increased frequency and severity of storms, we will be more concerned and will have to consider what we can do to mitigate the effects. For the park and for lakes across Maine, it is an important question.”

By next year, Jordan Pond’s high-resolution sensor data will be available to the public on a website and at an information kiosk at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant. The data also will be entered in the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), which shares and interprets information from around the planet in an effort to understand the role and response of lakes to a changing environment.

Wigdahl will be blogging about her work with the buoy on the Friends of Acadia news site.

A Wall Street Journal article about the Canon U.S.A. sponsorship with Friends of Acadia is online.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745; 207.949.4149

Researchers Uncover Lessons for Fisheries Management in Changing Climate

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Last summer’s ocean heat wave has provided researchers from the University of Maine and Gulf of Maine Research Institute with unique insights into how fishery managers and policymakers might best sustain marine ecosystems in the face of climate change.

The study found the abnormal water temperatures, which were 3 degrees to 5 degrees above the long-term average, caused some species to move north and seek refuge in cooler waters, and others to migrate earlier than usual. These behavioral changes had substantial ramifications for commercial fishermen, affecting both the species variety and the selling price of their catch.

“Longfin squid, which are generally found off the shores of Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, made their way to the Maine coast,” said Katherine Mills, one of the scientists who published the findings in the June issue of Oceanography. “Local fishermen quickly took advantage of the catch, and new local markets for the squid developed.”

The warmer temperatures also caused Gulf of Maine lobsters to molt about a month earlier than usual, bringing an early start to the summer harvest. While lobstermen proceeded to catch a record number of these crustaceans, the abundance flooded the market and caused the price of lobsters to plummet.

“In order to sustain marine ecosystems, scientists and fishery managers also need to be able to rapidly adjust in response to abrupt changes in climate,” Mills said. “In the paper, we outline a number of recommendations to help them prepare for and react to events like the 2012 ocean heat wave.”

The researchers advocate for development of climate-ecosystem models that link physical changes to biological outcomes and economic impacts. These models would help fishery managers identify and evaluate climate change adaptation strategies.

In addition, they assert that targeted predictive models that take into account multiple real-time data streams would be valuable for supporting fishery management decisions in the era of climate change.

They also state that fishery management processes may need greater flexibility to accommodate and adjust to future climate events. One such example is a responsive permitting structure for commercial fishermen that may be helpful in case one species leaves the area and another species moves in.

Additional collaborators on this research included SUNY Stony Brook and NOAA, as well as researchers from France and Taiwan.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Five-State, Five-Year, $2.5 Million Study to Explore Cooking and Family Meals as Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Researchers at the University of Maine are leading a five-state, five-year, $2.5 million USDA study to combat childhood obesity, and they are using an unlikely tool to do so — cooking.

The project, called iCook, is focused on improving culinary skills, promoting family meals and increasing physical activity.

The study, which is being conducted at the five land grant universities in Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia, is designed to test the effect of a two-year intervention on body mass index (BMI) of youth.

In Maine, a team of researchers, students and University of Maine Cooperative Extension faculty members are being led by Adrienne White, human nutrition professor, and Kate Yerxa, statewide educator for nutrition and physical activity.

“The long-range goals are for obesity prevention,” White says. “Maintaining weight within the normal percentile curves is what would be desired, as well as increasing culinary skills and eating together as a family.”

The American Medical Association recently announced it has adopted a new policy classifying obesity as a disease. Obesity affects 30 percent of American adults and has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Obese” and “overweight” are labels for ranges of weight greater than what is considered healthy for a given height and is determined by a person’s BMI, which correlates to their amount of body fat, the CDC says.

Recruitment for iCook participants is under way for children ages 9 and 10, and the adult responsible for preparing the majority of the children’s meals. Participants need to be free from food allergies, be willing to eat from all food groups, and have computer and Internet access at home. Each pair will be compensated $80 over the study period.

The goal of recruiters is to have 100 pairs participate in each state. The Maine researchers are offering the opportunity for pairs to participate in areas around Orono and Ellsworth through UMaine Extension youth programs.

Once participants are recruited, they will randomly be assigned to a control or treatment group. Half the participants will be in the treatment group and will attend six two-hour-long classes every other week for the first 12 weeks of the project and have access to the iCook website, a place to share and track progress, throughout the two-year period.

“All states are doing the same thing,” White says. “At the very same time; the very same measurements and the very same structure.”

Assessments are scheduled to begin July 29 and classes will start during the third week of August. The classes will include topics such as proper food handling and preparation, nutrition groups and structured mealtimes. Cooking and exercises will be done during classes. Extension nutrition staff, 4-H leaders and UMaine students will teach the Maine lessons.

The inspiration for iCook came from a similar project led by White called Maker of Meals that focused on adults who prepared meals for children in Washington County.

White, community partners led by Colin Windhorst and students, including Douglas Mathews, a human nutrition doctoral student from Sanford, Maine, conducted the pilot study that laid the groundwork for the USDA project.

Mathews, who is using iCook as the focus of his Ph.D. project on program evaluation, was part of the grant-writing process and now helps manage iCook across all five states. Mathews also worked with Rainstorm Consulting of Orono to create the iCook website which he describes as a “mashup of some of the more popular social media sites,” with sharing features similar to those on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

The website is designed to create an online community connecting participants from the five states through blogging, chatting and sharing media. Researchers will monitor the children’s growth, development and health habits through website activity, online surveys and physical measurements.

Carolyn Stocker, a third-year food science and human nutrition major and member of the Honors College from Westfield, Mass., is one of the seven undergraduate students assisting White and Mathews as a student researcher on the study and is helping to recruit participants this summer.

“I hope this project accomplishes what it has set out to do, which is prevent childhood obesity,” Stocker says. “This project approaches it directly while emphasizing the importance of cooking, eating and exercising as a family.”

Stocker, who is looking forward to gaining field experience, says she believes iCook will also allow children and adults to feel more comfortable working with food and in the kitchen, and she hopes it will become a bonding experience for the families, strengthening relationships.

All participants — those in the control and treatment groups — will complete surveys and have physical measurements taken four times throughout the study. Measurements for the children include height, weight and waist circumference. Children and adults will have their blood pressure taken during the four screenings.

Meaghan Brown, a graduate student studying human nutrition from Vassalboro, Maine, is coordinating the study in Maine. Brown is responsible for managing the collection of data. She is also writing her master’s thesis on topics related to the project, such as family dynamics and quality of life.

Brown, who hopes to build relationships with her fellow researchers and program participants, would like iCook to leave a lasting impression on participants.

“I hope they continue what they learn outside the study,” Brown says. “It is important for parents and children to be physically active, eat well and spend time together.”

Study results will also be used in curriculum development that will be integrated into UMaine Extension youth programming. During the fourth year of the study, iCook will be tested for sustainability by its practicality in a nonresearch setting, White says.

“Ultimately we want this curriculum to not sit on a shelf,” White says, adding the community-participatory approach to the study should help increase the sustainability of the team’s work.

White wants participants to be able to go to the grocery store together, know how to make healthful selections and look forward to cooking and eating together. She believes these positive life changes could lead to healthier and happier lives.

“We hope people begin to cook more and eat together more and be more aware of their food,” White says. “We just want people to get back to loving food, understanding food and being able to work with food.”

White says culinary skills and eating together as a family are considered important aspects of following a nutritious diet. She says researchers have shown adolescents are less likely to engage in deviant behavior or to have eating disorders when their families eat together.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747