The University of Maine has released its most recent report on Maine’s climate, which states that every climate-related parameter measured in Maine has accelerated. The “Maine’s Climate Future – 2020 Update” report highlights the potential effects of climate change on Maine’s farms, fields, forests and marine resources, as well as the effects that climate change will have on Maine culture and the economy.
This year’s report states that the rate of air and sea warming is increasing, as well as the rate of precipitation. The report also notes that the sea level is rising at rates faster than in the 20th century.
The report builds on previous years of data collection, as well as collaborative efforts with the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park. Key findings within the report show that there are accelerated rates of warming along Maine’s coast when compared to interior and northern Maine. The report also notes the changes in winter snowfall patterns, as well as more unpredictable weather events. Based on data collected over many years, UMaine climate scientists have determined that the minimum temperatures, that is the lowest average temperatures, are warming by 60%. This will mean in the future, there will be fewer deep-freezes, which may affect the environmental stability of Maine.
The report also shows the implications of climate change for the agriculture industry in Maine, noting that the growing season has lengthened by two weeks. Data also shows that the spring and fall seasons are much warmer than in years past, with weather patterns becoming more erratic during these seasons.
The report underscored the importance of taking this climate information and utilizing it in ways that will affect state and local policies in order to secure a climate future that will be manageable for Mainers.
“The steps taken now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions determine which alternative future pathways Maine experiences,” the report states.
“From the historical record we know that Maine’s climate has warmed and become wetter over the past century,” said Sean Birkel, Maine state climatologist and UMaine research assistant, professor and co-author of the report. “The factors propelling these changes are estimated by climate models that show that the warming signal from greenhouse gas emissions emerged from the noise of natural variability by at least the 1960s.”
Catherine Schmitt, of the Schoodic Institute, and co-author of the report highlighted how Mainers continue to thrive in adverse conditions.
“Our work at Schoodic Institute focuses on understanding environmental change in Acadia and beyond, as well as helping those charged with managing protected areas to respond and adapt to change. This 2020 update, while alarming, affirms that Maine people have the will and capacity to thrive in uncertain times,” Schmitt said.
Ivan Fernandez, professor of soil science and forest research, was the lead author of the report. Fernandez had been working in climate science for years before being chosen to be on the Maine Climate Council by Gov. Janet Mills in 2019. Fernandez noted that the climate report is helpful in making international and national decisions on climate management. The fact that researchers were able to gather localized information has helped Mainers learn what to expect in the future.
“What is most important for Maine people is information that is local, from our backyard,” Fernandez noted. “This report hopes to connect Maine people with the information they need for decision making. We are in awe at the stories from elsewhere about fires in Australia and California, hurricanes in Puerto Rico, melting ice and permafrost in the Arctic, droughts in Africa, and Pacific island nations being lost to rising seas. This can make us less aware of the changes all around us here in Maine.”
To view the Maine’s Climate Future – 2020 Update report, visit https://climatechange.umaine.edu/climate-matters/maines-climate-future/ .