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CLIMATE SCIENCE PORTAL  RESOURCES

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Defining Climate Change

Defining Climate Change

Climate change is bringing more than just novel climate conditions; it’s also introducing us to new terms little used before the contemporary climate change period. We’re now hearing words such as atmospheric rivers, bomb cyclone, and polar vortex. For a brief glossary of this new climate vocabulary see page 15 of this report:

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Here’s how methane emissions occur:

OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY The fossil fuel industry generates a third of all methane emissions. The gas leaks from pumps, pipelines and wells as oil and natural gas are extracted and transported. There is also growing evidence that the decomposition of petroleum-based plastic discarded in landfills and in oceans is responsible for methane emissions. 

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Greenhouse Gas Emission

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

THE CLEAN AIR ACT is an example of a relatively successful environmental regulation.  A recent 50-year retrospective review of the Clean Air Act revealed that this comprehensive federal law outlining a wide array of regulatory mechanisms led to substantial pollution emissions reductions and health improvements in the US.  Despite the quadrupling of gross domestic product (GDP) since 1970 (GDP is generally associated with increased production) air quality across the United States substantially improved during this period.  The decline in pollutants and increase in GDP since 1980 are shown in the chart below.

CITIZENS' CLIMATE LOBBY'S carbon fee and dividend proposal is a good example of how fees may be used to limit greenhouse gas emissions. CCL supports an economy-wide carbon fee program, where the funds raised through the program are equitably distributed back to American households in the form of a ‘dividend.’  Under this program, a fee is levied per ton of potential carbon emissions, and would be applied wherever fossil fuels enter the economy. The dividends received by all American households would help offset inevitable price increases, especially on emission-heavy products. The price increases and dividends would flow through the economy, incentivizing businesses and people to switch to clean energy.  The primary drawback with fees, charges and taxes is that this form of policy solution cannot guarantee a specific amount of pollution reduction as would be the case with strict regulation or a regulated phase-out.

THE REGIONAL GREENHOUSE GAS INITIATIVE (RGGI) is the first mandatory cap-and-trade program in the United States to limit carbon dioxide from the power sector. Eleven states currently participate in RGGI: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia.

Divest from Fossil Fuels

 

LD 99 | An Act To Require The State To Divest Itself Of Assets In The Fossil Fuel Industry, became STATUS: law as of June 16, 2021

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Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emission

What is a Carbon Footprint?

It is important to note that the term ‘carbon footprint’ was first coined by a public relations firm working for British Petroleum, one of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world. Their ‘carbon footprint calculator’ helps place the blame for climate change on the consumer and hides the role of the fossil fuel industry in perpetuating the climate crisis.

What is a Carbon Footprint

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Climate Change Acceleration

Fossil fuel emissions from human activity are driving up Earth’s temperature—yet something else is at work. The warming has set in motion nature’s own feedback loops which are raising temperatures even higher. The urgent question is: Are we approaching a point of no return, leading to an uninhabitable Earth, or do we have the vision and will to slow, halt, and reverse them?

January 14, 2021 — It’s official: 2020 ranks as the second-hottest year on record for the planet, knocking 2019 down to third hottest, according to an analysis by NOAA scientists."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports (IPCC) prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports about knowledge on climate change, its causes, potential impacts and response options. In 2022, This report acknowledged for the first time the link between global warming and colonialism. “Vulnerability of ecosystems and people to climate change,” the international body wrote in its report, is “driven by patterns of intersecting socioeconomic development” and “historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism.”

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) assesses the science of climate change and variability and its impacts across the United States, now and throughout this century. 

Show Your Stripes (from the University of Reading) This tool displays eye-catching temperature “stripes” from any country or U.S. state since 1895 (use the drop down menu). These stripes make it easy to see that warming is happening nearly everywhere and at an increasing pace. 

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Climate Change Acceleration

Climate Change and Wabanaki Culture

"Climate change has impacted and will continue to impact indigenous peoples, their lifeways and culture, and the natural world upon which they rely, in unpredictable and potentially devastating ways. Many climate adaptation planning tools fail to address the unique needs, values and cultures of indigenous communities. This Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu, which was developed by a diverse group of collaborators representing tribal, academic, intertribal and government entities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, provides a framework to integrate indigenous and traditional knowledge, culture, language and history into the climate adaptation planning process."

Wabanaki Alliance Legislative Bill Tracker

Use this resource to track issues related to the Wabanaki Nations. Find details on many  bills and actions you can take to stand with the Wabanaki.

Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship

The mission of the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship Nil yut ktahkomiq nik (the whole earth is our home) is to improve the health and well-being of Wabanaki people through a sustained effort to expand our access, management, and ownership of lands to practice our land-based cultures across Wabanaki homeland in what is now the State of Maine. 

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Climat Change and Wabanaki Culture

TEK: Increased Temperatures

UN summit in New York hears how resources needed for sustainable energy threaten Indigenous land and people (Jenni Monet, The Guardian, April 23, 2023)

This report acknowledged for the first time the link between global warming and colonialism. “Vulnerability of ecosystems and people to climate change,” the international body wrote in its report, is “driven by patterns of intersecting socioeconomic development” and “historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism” (2022).

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TEK: Increased Temperatures

TEK: Hydrology

SEA LEVEL RISE VIEWER  Sea level rise and salt water intrusion into the Passamaquoddy community at Sipay’k (Pleasant Point) are major concerns. This map shows portions of Pleasant Point that are vulnerable to innundation (in green) at 5-feet of sea level rise. Scientists predict the likelihood of 5 feet of flooding in this coastal region due to sea level rise by 2050 at 92% – 100%, and projected local rises in this area of 1.8 to 6.3 feet by 2100. The more heat-trapping pollution emitted, the higher that sea-level rise is likely to be. [Data source: 2017 NOAA technical report, U.S. National Climate Assessment]. Activate the viewer to see additional flooding scenarios.

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TEK: Hydrology
TEK: Vector Borne Diseases

Maine's Weather

Temperatures are increasing across the state.  The average annual temperature has increased 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) in the last 124 years, with the rate of warming steadily increasing, especially since 1960. The six warmest years on record have occurred since 1998 with 2016 the warmest year on the planet and in Maine.

The Northeast is warming faster than any other region in the U.S., and is projected to warm 5.4 °F (3 °C) as much of the rest of the world warms by 3.6 °F (2 °C).  To date, temperature increases in Maine have been greatest in coastal areas.

As Maine’s summers become warmer and longer, the number of excessively hot, humid days when heat indices rise above 95 °F (35 °C) are likely to increase. (The “heat index” is a measure of how hot it feels, taking into account both temperature and humidity.) This graph shows the projected increases in the number of excessively hot, humid days for various locations around the state.

KILLER HEAT AN INTERACTIVE TOOL  This is an interactive tool that will show the high heat day changes for each Maine county. This analysis shows the rapid, widespread increases in extreme heat that are projected to occur across the country due to climate change.

THE FUTURE OF DANGEROUSLY HOT DAYS  Includes data and spreadsheets state by state and there are data for each Maine Congressional District.

EXTREME PRECIPITATION EVENTS  This graph shows the annual precipitation in inches recorded at 11 long-term meteorological stations across the state, where an ‘extreme event’ is defined as two or more inches of precipitation (water contained in rain or snow) per 24 hours period. Each bar represents a ten-year interval beginning in 1880 and ending in 2010.

Source: Maine’s Climate Future 2015 ed. p.9 “Extreme Precipitation Events 1880-2010”

THERE'S A NEW DEFINITION OF 'NORMAL' FOR WEATHER  "The United States is getting redder. No, not that kind of red. (We’ll leave that to the political pundits.) We’re talking about the thermometer kind."

Maine Won’t Wait: 4-Year Climate Action Plan

SOLUTIONS

In June 2019, Governor Janet Mills signed LD 1679 into law, with strong support from the Maine Legislature, to create the Maine Climate Council. The Council — an assembly of scientists, industry leaders, bipartisan local and state officials, and engaged citizens — was charged with developing this four-year Climate Action Plan to put Maine on a trajectory to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

SOLUTIONS

Throughout this site, University of Maine has compiled the best information and best practices to assist communities in building local climate resilience.

SOLUTIONS

Learn more about a municipal joint action plan. "Together, Portland and South Portland are working to create a prosperous and inclusive low-carbon future."

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Maine's Forests

Check out The Climate Change Atlas. This resource allows you to simulate how the distribution of most tree species in Maine (and elsewhere in the USA) are likely to change in the future. There’s one for birds too. Below are future projections for two of the many Maine tree species: red spruce (declining) and white oak (spreading). These projections are based on an optimistic climate warming scenario (4.5), which assume substantial cuts in emissions.

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Maine's Weather
Maine's Forests

Maine's Lakes, Rivers, and Wetlands

What is a Conservation Commission ?

Learn more about conservation comissions and help conserve your town, by joining or supporting your local conservation commission.

Protect local wetlands

Fight to conserve wetlands in your town that will help with both mitigation and adaptation effort.

Removing invasive species from the Belgrade Lakes

The 7 Lakes Alliance is to conserve the lands and waters of the Belgrade Lakes Region for all. They believe the life of the land and lakes is a shared effort and engage with the whole community to achieve clean water, well stewarded lands, and a vibrant economy.  

Land Conservation in Maine

The Maine Land Trust Network builds and sustains the quality and effectiveness of land trusts, as well as other organizations engaged in land conservation, drawing upon our collective expertise and resources to ensure responsible and successful conservation.

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Maine's Lakes, Rivers, and Wetlands

Wildlife and Biodiversity

CONNECTING WILDLIFE HABITATS "Wildlife move both daily and seasonally to survive. However, the habitats animals rely on continue to be fragmented by housing, roads, fences, energy facilities, and other man-made barriers. As a result, animals are struggling more and more to reach food, water, shelter, and breeding sites."

VIDEO | Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

BEGINNING WITH HABITAT Beginning with Habitat (BwH) helps Maine municipalities, landowners, and land trusts build habitat conservation into their long-term plans.

WEBPAGE | Maine Lakes

BE LAKE SMART "Human activity impacts lakes. Of special concern, our houses and roads make impermeable surfaces that don’t allow rain to soak into the ground, increasing the overland flow of rain water that picks up nutrients such as phosphorus and deposits them into the lake, where they can feed unwanted algae growth."

  • “Occur at their southern range limit in Maine (e.g., Canada lynx) 

  • Depend on coldwater (e.g. Eastern brook trout, brook floater) or boreal habitats (e.g., boreal chickadee)

  • Breed in wetlands that are vulnerable to fluctuating water levels during nesting periods (e.g., yellow rail, least bittern)

  • Are coastal or marine species affected by sea level rise, altered ocean chemistry, or changes in marine food webs (e.g., saltmarsh sparrow, Atlantic puffin, Arctic tern)

  • Inhabit naturally fragmented habitats that limit dispersal (e.g., Blanding’s turtle)

  • Have narrow habitat requirements (e.g., Katahdin arctic butterfly)”

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Invasive Species

GULF OF MAINE 2050 INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM REPORT 

"After the success of the Gulf of Maine 2050 International Symposium in November 2019, the symposium leaders collaborated on a Climate Outlook and Action report summarizing the findings of the symposium and how the interdisciplinary themes that were discussed could impact the Gulf of Maine’s environment, communities, and economies in the future."

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Wildlife and Biodiversity
Invasive Species

Coastal and Marine Impacts

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."

'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.

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.