With regular features and information about climate in Maine and beyond, Maine Climate News is a joint effort of three of the University of Maine’s well-known units: the Climate Change Institute, Maine Sea Grant, and Cooperative Extension. All of these entities have an emphasis on climate change and its implications for Maine.
The site is intended to provide useful information and perspectives about Maine’s climate. Because climate represents long-term patterns (as opposed to the short-term weather records that are provided daily by the National Weather Service), we will review what is known about the past (paleoclimate), the present (weather data compiled from roughly the past century, the time of modern instrumental measurements), and the future (estimated from computer simulations of various kinds).
Maine’s Climate Future – 2020 Update
Maine’s Climate Future – 2020 demonstrates the progression of accelerating change in the climate in Maine and its effects, reflecting dramatic evidence for accelerating climate change around the globe with the often dire consequences of those changes.
Nearly every climate-related parameter measured in Maine is accelerating, according to the report. The rate of air and sea warming is increasing. Precipitation is increasing in intensity and volume, and sea level is not only rising, but rising faster than in the previous century.
Key new findings include faster rates of warming along the coast compared to interior and northern Maine, and changes in Maine winters. Average minimum temperatures in Maine are warming 60% faster than average maximums.
The report points to the growing evidence of impacts of these changes on Maine’s farms, fields, forests, marine resources, and aspects of our culture and economy. The report also points to resources and activities that represent opportunities to address the climate challenge, and actions that Mainers are taking to deal with climate-related changes
“This report hopes to connect Maine people with the information they need for decision-making,” says Ivan Fernandez, UMaine professor of soil science and forest resources, and the report’s lead author.
“This 2020 update, while alarming, affirms that Maine people have the will and capacity to thrive in uncertain times,” says Catherine Schmitt, Schoodic Institute science communication specialist and a co-author of the report.
Climate Update: Spring 2020
By Dr. Sean Birkel, Maine State Climatologist
The Maine statewide climatological spring (March-May [MAM]) 2020 average temperature was 39.6 °F, or 72nd percentile for the 125-year record period beginning 1895. This temperature is 2.4 °F warmer than that observed for the same period in 2019, and 1.4 °F above the 1901-2000 historical mean. The observed MAM total precipitation was 9.4 inches, or 44th percentile for the record period. This precipitation amount is 2.6 inches less than that observed in 2019, and 0.7 inches above the 1901-2000 historical mean, or near normal. In total for MAM 2020, there were 40 high and 33 low daily temperature, 32 high precipitation, and 42 high snowfall records either broken or tied statewide (data from NOAA Daily Weather Records).
Maine Winter 2020 Climate Summary
By Dr. Sean Birkel, Maine State Climatologist
The Maine statewide winter (December-February [DJF]) 2020 average temperature was 21.2 °F, ranking 6th warmest for the 125-year record period beginning 1895 (Fig. 1). This temperature is 4.3 °F warmer than that observed for the same period in 2019, and 5.6 °F above the 1901–2000 historical mean. The observed DJF total precipitation was 9.7 inches, ranking 53rd wettest since 1895 (Fig. 2). This precipitation amount is 2.2 inches less than that observed in 2019, and 0.1 inches above the 1901-2000 historical mean, or near normal. In total for DJF 2020, there were 29 high and 11 low daily temperature, 35 high precipitation, and 22 high snowfall records either broken or tied statewide (data from NOAA Daily Weather Records).
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.
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 Network 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.
Maine Climate News Blog
Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook, Northeast Region, June 2020
Northeast Drought Early Warning Update
Northeast Snow Season Recap
USDA Northeast Climate Hub Reports Another Warm Winter
Preparing for a Changing Climate: The State of Adaptation Planning in Maine’s Coastal Communities
UMaine scientists involved in ranking “mountain water towers”
Special Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change (IPCC) Report
2019 Gulf of Maine Region Climate Report