WVII speaks with UMaine faculty, doctoral student for report on climate research

WVII (Channel 7) spoke with Caitlin McDonough Mackenzie, a postdoctoral research fellow with the University of Maine Climate Change Institute; Aaron Putnam, an assistant professor in UMaine’s School of Earth and Climate Sciences; and Peter Strand, a doctoral student at UMaine; for the first installment of its “Summit to Shore” series focusing on climate research in Maine. “I think the effects I’m most concerned about, as an ecologist, are the places I love changing in totally irreparable ways,” said McDonough Mackenzie. Putnam told WVII that warming conditions can lead to some pest species moving into new areas. “Diseases, tick-borne diseases and mosquito-borne diseases, will have a greater probability of making it into the state,” he said. A team of UMaine researchers traveled to the Himalayas to investigate and identify past climate trends, according to the report. “What we do is compare glacial histories in these different areas to try to get at questions about how the global climate system operates and what sort of mechanics can lead to abrupt changes that have been observed in both the recent past and geologic past,” said Strand, who was part of that research team. McDonough Mackenzie has studied how climate change impacts plant life in Acadia National Park, and found that plants are leafing out earlier in warmer microclimates. “If the plants are leafing out and flowering out earlier, but migratory birds aren’t arriving earlier, then they might be missing their food services or nest materials,” she said. “A big question mark around climate change for ecologists is, what happens?”