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Coastal and marine impacts

The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than just about any other area of the planet’s oceans. This is due primarily to its relatively shallow depth, and the influence of two major ocean currents. While warmer water may sound great for recreation, it has dire implications for wildlife, with native whales, seabirds and other animals suffering from reduced or changing food supplies. It also means that invasive species who thrive in warmer water arrive and impact the ecosystem.


As more people who care about the Gulf of Maine come to understand it as one of the fastest-warming ocean regions on the planet, one question persists: Why is the Gulf of Maine warming so rapidly?

ABOUT THE GULF OF MAINE "The Gulf of Maine is one of the world’s most dynamic environments. Nourished by cold ocean waters and characterized by a complex geomorphology made up of deep basins and shallow banks, this sea semi-enclosed sea is one of the most biologically productive marine ecosystems."

What is ocean acidification?

Burning fossil fuels not only results in more carbon dioxide in the air but also in our ocean. The chemical balance of the ocean is delicate, and this increase in carbon dioxide alters that balance resulting in increased acidity known as acidification. While this acidification has no direct impact on our own health, it does harm the growth of many of the organisms that play key roles in the marine ecosystem such as shellfish, corals and certain fish. Ocean acidification also has implications for the very young life stages of some creatures that support many other animals such as whales and seabirds.

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Source: Photo by Edward Jenkins


'Run The Oil Industry In Reverse': Fighting Climate Change By Farming Kelp

"In the race to stall or even reverse global warming, new efforts are in the works to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and put it somewhere safe..."

New Research to Explore Seaweed for Ocean, Economic Health

The Island Institute and Bigelow Lab are doing ocean acidification with kelp studies in partnership with kelp farmers. They have found that kelp actually creates an arc of less acidic water as it grows and absorbs CO2 from the waters and so could be a companion to shellfish farming, providing protection from acid water for the shells of shellfish.

Will coastal communities be impacted by rising sea levels?

Melting ice in the Arctic is leading to rising sea levels around the world. While an increase of around one tenth of an inch per year does not sound like much, the 7.5 inch increase in sea level since 1912 (recorded in Portland) is responsible for increasing erosion and flooding along the coastline. This can result in the potential loss of sandy beachfront, coastal wetlands and salt marshes.


Source: Portland, Maine flooding photo by Patty Wight, Maine Public

Coastl Sea Level


A Climate of Change: Sea Level Rise follows the community of Vinalhaven, Maine over a two-year period as they have conversations around planning for and responding to sea level rise on the island. It highlights some of the challenges they face, but more importantly, shows us how a small, yet engaged community can lead the way to planning for change.

SEA LEVEL RISE IN MAINE (MAP) Use this interactive tool to explore how different sea level rise scenarios will impact Maine.

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SURGING SEAS RISK ZONE MAP  explore another sea level rise map here. Climate Central has many tools for evaluating sea level rise and coastal flood risk.


Southern Maine communities unite to fight climate change

Working on building biodegradable sea walls in order to protect marshes from erosion caused by sea level rise - barriers made using coconut fiber bags filled with oyster shells collected from local restaurants.

Maine coastal areas plan natural solutions to reduce flood impacts from climate change

The Greater Portland Council of Government received $250,000 to help fight flooding caused by climate change in 10 coastal Maine towns

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The Maine Climate Science Portal was envisioned and developed by Maine Climate Action Now. Content development, to date, has been a largely-volunteer effort. Click here to see a full list of contributors.

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