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Climate Update: Spring 2018

By Sean D. Birkel, Ph.D., Maine State Climatologist

The statewide spring (March–May) 2018 season average was slightly warmer and drier than normal in comparison to 1901–2000 climatology. Spring snowpack at the beginning of April was less than in 2017, but considerably more than in 2016. On the larger scale, sea-surface temperatures across the subpolar and tropical latitudes of the North Atlantic cooled in response to persistent strong winds associated with the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Read the full update here.

Climate Update: Winter and Spring 2017

Figure 9. Comparison of April 1 snowpack for 2016 and 2017. Image from the NWS National Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (

Comparison of April 1 snowpack for 2016 and 2017. Image from the NWS National Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center.

By Sean D. Birkel, Maine State Climatologist

Following the record warmth in winter 2016, winter 2017 (December – February) was warm and wet. Spring 2017 was generally cool and wet. Increased snowfall and a longer snow season compared to last year contributed to easing of the 2016 drought. Climate in Maine and across the Northern Hemisphere is heavily impacted by the declining extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice. Read more.

Research Highlights: Uncovering the Past Through Maine’s Historic Phenology Data

Phenological observations of annual first flowers, first leaves, and first migratory bird arrivals are a very valuable component of climate change research and historical phenology records provide baselines for learning about the effects of climate change on biota and biological processes.  Dr. Caitlin McDonough’s research delves into long-term historical phenology records, such as the Quackenbush journals of northern Maine, to identify the fingerprint of anthropogenic climate change in ecological communities. Read more about the research here.

Maine Climate and Agriculture

The purpose of the Maine Climate and Agriculture Network, initiated by faculty at the University of Maine, is to increase communication and coordination among those working on issues related to climate and agriculture. The Maine Climate and Ag website provides an initial portal to some of the climate-related activities at the University of Maine, and serves as an invitation to those with an interest in this topic to participate. See their new fact sheet: Farm Response to Changing Weather.

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