Road to Solutions — Climate & Energy

Electric meterUsing Socio-Economic Impacts to Inform Decision-Making on Dams (WRRI 2020)

With large-scale river restoration projects becoming more prevalent, new opportunities such as the Penobscot River Restoration Project (PRRP) have emerged to investigate key questions about socio-economic impacts. Comprehensive stakeholder engagement and collaboration between a variety of interests were critical to the success of the PRRP and other similar dam removals. The research team is working with key stakeholders to identify and evaluate impacts of river restoration, continuing to learn about the socio-economic impacts and benefits of dam removals and the importance of building community engagement and education around river restoration.

Helping Maine Farmers Succeed in a Changing Climate

University of Maine Cooperative Extension members and the State Climatologist are working on a new project with farmers in Maine. The goal is to listen to farmer needs around weather information and farm management decision support tools, and discuss future capabilities in light of Maine’s changing climate.

Assessing the Climate Mitigation Potential of Maine Agriculture

Farming practices that promote “soil health” can make farms more productive, profitable, and resilient to climate change impacts. Additionally, some soil health building practices—for example, cover cropping, reducing tillage, and biochar application—can contribute to greenhouse gas mitigation. There is growing interest in state and regional policies to incentivize soil health building practices, but to inform these policy efforts, a baseline assessment is needed.

Upgrading Culverts for Safer Roads and Healthier Ecosystems (WRRI 2019)

Maine’s communities and economy are critically dependent on the safety of its road network, which is in turn dependent on tens of thousands of culverts that allow water to flow under roads. Unfortunately, many of these culverts are at risk of failure, either due to their degrading condition or because they are undersized for the increasingly large floods and bank erosion caused by climate change and urban development.

Examining Risk in the Development of Next-Generation Tidal Energy Technologies in Maine

Growing concern over global climate change and energy security has accelerated the development of new renewable energy sources. In the search for alternatives to fossil fuels, marine hydrokinetic (MHK) energy has emerged as a viable option. However, while energy from marine tides, currents, and waves may all hold immense potential for electrical energy generation, the developing industry is faced with significant challenges…

Future of Dams (New England Sustainability Consortium)

Hydropower is a major source of renewable energy in New England with more than 50 dams scheduled for relicensing in the next decade. However, dams can have adverse effects on coastal ecosystems and economies…

Community-Based Sustainable Energy Solutions

Affordable, reliable access to energy is essential to human welfare, economic development, and wealth. The way we generate, distribute and use energy has lasting impacts in all aspects of economy and society because nearly everything we make and do requires energy. A fossil fuel-based energy system is unsustainable because fossil fuels are finite, contribute to global warming, contaminate the environment, and pose energy security issues…

Older Projects

Communicating Climate Change with Maine Natural Resource Users

This project evaluates the barriers to and opportunities of climate change communication in order to improve engagement with resource users. What level of knowledge do natural resource users have about current and potential climate change impacts on natural resources? What type of climate change information alters the monetary contribution users are willing to make towards climate work in Maine? Do residents who perceive climate change as a more significant threat to recreation activities contribute towards activities or programs that lessen climate impact?

Biodiversity response to Climate Change

Thanks to remotely-sensed and ground-based climate observations society now has an extremely detailed understanding of the geography and magnitude of recent climate change. The detail and relative geographic evenness of this knowledge is in stark contrast to that of the spatial distribution of biodiversity and its changes over time…

Renewable Energy from the Tides
Maine is one of the most promising places in the world for tidal power. This SSI research team is helping ensure that tidal power is developed in ways that promote economic development and protect marine ecosystems as part of the Maine Tidal Power Initiative…

Helping Communities Weather the Storms
Increasingly intense and frequent storms are striking Maine and New England, causing millions of dollars in damage and threatening fragile ecosystems. This SSI research team will help Maine communities better understand and prepare for the potential local impacts of climate change…

Effects of Climate Change on Organisms
Global warming is expected to have a profound effect on Maine’s climate in the coming decades, potentially affecting human health and triggering significant changes and geographic shifts in the state’s agriculture, forests, and wildlife. Could a warmer future spell the end of pines in the Pine Tree State, along with such iconic and important species as maple trees and moose?

Biomass Energy Production in Northern Maine
Agriculture in northern Maine has declined by about 50 percent since the 1940s, leaving thousands of acres of former potato fields and other crop lands idle. Public and private entities are now looking to this land as a source of economic development for growing crops for energy, food, or animal feed…

Virtual Reality Interactions
Using Immersive Virtual Reality to Understand the Impacts of Wind Energy Siting
Many sustainability solutions are designed or enhanced by developing and siting new technologies (e.g., reducing greenhouse gases by generating power using wind energy). Yet the impact of these newly sited technologies on the quality of life of local residents and on tourism can be incredibly difficult to envision…