Maine's Climate Future: 2015 Update

Maine’s Climate Future 2015 focuses on past, present, and future trends for key climate change impacts in Maine including temperature, precipitation, ocean temperature, ocean acidification, and sea level rise. Detailed examples of how Maine directly experiences each of these impacts are given. 

According to the assessment, rising temperatures have increased the incidence of Lyme disease across the state. Temperature shifts are also one of the primary factors affecting annual yield of Maine’s maple syrup through its effects on sap flow and/or sugar concentrations, and new schedules for syrup production are predicted. Plants and wildlife are vulnerable to heat stress, and coupled with related habitat disturbance, this creates opportunities for the introduction and expansion of exotic species and potentially invasive diseases and pests.

Extreme precipitation events have already caused increased pollution in lakes and streams from erosion and runoff, and led to algal blooms. Roads and infrastructure have become vulnerable to extreme storms; and a decade of above-average spring and summer precipitation patterns have fostered an epidemic of white pine needle disease. Maine’s ski industry has also been disrupted by changes in temperature and precipitation. 

Rising ocean temperatures have shifted where many marine species are found, including at what depth in the water column. The center of Maine’s lobster harvest has moved north, from Casco Bay to Downeast Maine. Commercial and recreational fishermen report new species from the south appearing, and the influx of new species has accelerated loss of others.

As a result of sea level rise, some salt marshes which help protect coastal property are apparently drowning, with salt marsh pools expanding at the expense of plants. Some of Maine’s beaches are eroding from storm surge and there are new and expanded flood zones. More than 9,200 flood insurance policies are now in effect in Maine, with coverage totaling nearly $2 billion, according to state insurance data.

 


In 2008, then Governor Baldacci asked the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute to develop an initial assessment of climate-related changes in Maine. More than 70 scientists from throughout Maine contributed their expertise in helping to develop the 2009 report - Maine’s Climate Future: An Initial Assessment. This 2015 report updates the 2009 assessment. 

 

 

 

Publication Date: February 2015

Related Organizations:

  • Maine Department of Environmental Protection

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  • Assessment

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