Climate Change Institute | Exploration and Discovery | University of Maine

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aine Climate C h a n sity of M g e Ins niver ti t u • U te


“The University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute is an international leader in climate research, contributing to regional and global scale understanding and helping Maine prepare for the challenges to our environmental, economic and community sustainability.” — Susan J. Hunter, President, University of Maine

“Borders? I have never seen one, but I heard they exist in the minds of most people.” — Thor Heyerdahl† (1914–2002) Distinguished Research Associate of the Climate Change Institute

The Climate Change Institute greatly appreciates and acknowledges funding from: National Science Foundation, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, W.M. Keck Foundation, Comer Science & Education Foundation, Bingham Trust Fund, Dan & Betty Churchill Exploration Fund, Heinz Endowments, National Geographic, Arcadia Foundation and many other donors.

EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY • THE CLIMATE CHANGE INSTITUTE fosters learning and discovery through excellence in graduate academic programs, addresses local and global needs through basic and applied research, and contributes research-based knowledge to make a difference in people’s lives. It is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people in Maine and around the world, and promoting responsible stewardship of human, natural and financial resources, now and in the future.

From the Director

Photo by Joan Meyers

CLIMATE CHANGE Institute scientists conduct climate change research around the globe — from the deserts and highlands of Peru throughout the Andes, throughout the glaciers of the Arctic onto the summit of Greenland, throughout the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, across the vast Antarctic continent, to the rocky shores of Maine.

Paul Andrew Mayewski Director and Professor

CCI’s work has led to important discoveries with far-reaching implications, such as the phenomena of abrupt climate change that revolutionized the field of climate science in the early 1990s; the contribution of marine-based ice sheets to past and future sea-level rise; documented retreat and advance of glaciers in Antarctica, Greenland, South America, Asia and New Zealand over the last few decades and millennia with implications for sea-level rise, water resources and ocean circulation; a framework for assessing climate change; demonstration of the unprecedented rise in human source pollutants over the last century and longer; and the impact of climate change on humans and ecosystems. CCI researchers have extensive field experience and expertise to tackle critical, complex issues related to climate change and human and ecosystem adaptations to changing climates. These issues are extremely challenging, but they are particularly well suited to the character of the Climate Change Institute. Physical, chemical and biological climate change issues are deeply embedded in the fabric of local and global-scale concerns about economy, health, the rise and fall of civilizations, and overall quality of life for humans and ecosystems. Change in the physical and chemical characteristics of the climate system is compelling, and understanding the state of current and future levels of human source pollutants, including greenhouse gases, acids, toxic metals and radioactivity, will define our reality and opportunities in the future.


THE CLIMATE CHANGE INSTITUTE (CCI) is the hub of climate change research at the University of Maine. It is a trusted resource for scientific information and accessible tools related to the climate sciences used throughout Maine and around the world. CCI faculty, students and staff focus on innovative graduate education and interdisciplinary research involving both domestic and international exploration. These studies contribute to the understanding of the variability of Earth’s climate, the complex interconnections between climate, humans and the natural world, and the unique challenge of abrupt climate change. The discoveries made by CCI scientists strengthen the scientific foundation upon which evidencebased solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental problems will be built, and they provide the basis for our many partnerships with diverse stakeholders to create pathways to a climate resilient future.

“The age of climate decision is here, and our actions will define the course of civilization and the health of our planet.” — Paul Andrew Mayewski, Director, Climate Change Institute

Photo by Mariusz Potocki


Assistant professor and Maine State Climatologist Sean Birkel developed data demonstrating a dramatic increase in the frequency of intense precipitation events over the past decade.

Photo credits: Barn by Holland Haverkamp; Snowy Shore by Sean Birkel


“Maine people are experiencing a changing climate, and they are increasingly recognizing the value of informed decision-making and cost-effective adaptation in concert with the urgency of greenhouse gas mitigation.” — Ivan Fernandez, Professor of Soil Science, School of Forest Resources and Climate Change Institute

MAINE CITIZENS are acutely aware of human links to the environment. What’s happening in the woods, fields, sky, and water influences most aspects of daily life, from business operations to food production to recreational pursuits. In 2008, Governor John Baldacci asked the Climate Change Institute to develop an initial assessment of climate-related changes in Maine. Since the 2009 publication of the original report Maine’s Climate Future, concern has grown over climate change and its effects. The economic and human risks facing Mainers include hurricanes, droughts, melting

Arctic ice, flooding, warming and rising seas throughout the U.S. and beyond. These signals are evidence of a changing climate at home and around the world.

Maine’s Climate Future MAINE’S Climate Future 2015 builds on the 2009 report and highlights the understanding of past, present and future trends in key indicators of a changing Maine climate. Climate change often acts in concert with other stresses — including a changing chemical climate — rather than being a singular cause of any given change. Sometimes these changes represent a new opportunity. Too often they come with a price for Maine citizens.

Maine’s Climate Future 2015 5

Collectively, Arctic warming has critical implications for humans and ecosystems in the Arctic and beyond.

Photo by Benjamin Burpee


“The Arctic now stands firmly in our future — a concept few imagined even one to two decades ago.” — Paul Andrew Mayewski, Director, Climate Change Institute

THE ARCTIC has witnessed some of the most rapid, nonlinear environmental change on the planet in the last 10–20 years. Perhaps one of the best examples of these changes can be found in Greenland, where the average annual air temperature over the last decade has risen 3 degrees Celsius relative to the period 1979–2000. During the last decade, the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans have experienced the most drastic loss of sea ice ever recorded. Recent dynamic changes affecting the Greenland Ice Sheet are anticipated to accelerate rates of sea level rise. The permafrost soils of the Arctic store

large quantities of organic carbon, making permafrost thaw one of the most significant potential positive feedbacks to atmospheric warming. CCI members are investigating rates of Arctic warming, implications of Arctic warming on the atmospheric circulation of the Northern Hemisphere with implications for the frequency and magnitude of extreme events, causes and implications of glacier volume loss, and the processing of carbon in lakes with subsequent release as greenhouse gases.

Arctic warming Alterations to the arctic carbon cycle are of major concern due to the large repositories of carbon stored in permafrost, which can be released into surface waters and subsequently buried or released in the form of greenhouse gases. Research by doctoral students Rachel Fowler and Benjamin Burpee is aimed at better quantifying carbon dynamics in arctic lakes in an effort to clarify the contribution of these lakes to the global carbon cycle.

Arctic challenges and beyond 7

IGERT Ph.D. students conduct research that addresses the threats of abrupt climate change to global security, ecosystem sustainability, and the economic, social, political and ideological systems of human society.


“Determining how to anticipate, avoid and manage abrupt climate change (ACC) was recently identified as one of the five grand challenges to global sustainability, underscoring the importance of this IGERT designed to train the next generation of scientists to meet the environmental and social challenges of ACC.” — Jasmine Saros, A2C2 IGERT Program Director; Associate Director/Professor, Climate Change Institute

THE NEED to adapt environmental policies and management strategies to meet the social and ecological challenges caused by abrupt climate change events around the world is the focus of UMaine’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change (A2C2). This program is a collaboration between the Climate Change Institute and the School of Policy and International Affairs and has been funded by a $3 million award from the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program.

The program currently supports 22 Ph.D. students in Earth sciences, ecology, economics, anthropology and archaeology, marine sciences, biomedical sciences and engineering. In addition to their individual dissertation research, A2C2 students work in interdisciplinary teams on special collaborative research projects, and also participate in policy and management internships with international, federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations.

IGERT: Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change (A2C2) Working in interdisciplinary teams of two to four, all A2C2 IGERT trainees develop a Collaborative Immersion Project, which serves as the centerpiece of their training in how to conduct collaborative, interdisciplinary research. Student teams compete for internal IGERT research funds by preparing formal research proposals which are reviewed by a faculty committee.

Abrupt climate change 9

10Green’s interactive elements allow users to look at air quality scores over time and compare scores between locales.


“10Green is not just about the very important problem that the future is going to get warmer. It’s about what is happening now at the local scale. It’s about understanding changing in the chemistry of the air we breathe and how this impacts our health.”

What’s your score? 0



— Paul Andrew Mayewski, Director, Climate Change Institute


AN INTERACTIVE CCI website called rates the air quality of locations in the United States on a 1-to-10 scale. Users enter a ZIP code or name of a city or town to see the environmental health score based on 10 categories of human-source pollutants in the air. The higher the score, the healthier the air. The goal of the website is to make people aware of the quality of the air they breathe. CCI’s interest in providing information about air quality stems from its world-renowned work on ice cores. The cores have allowed UMaine

researchers to demonstrate dramatic long-term changes in the effects of pollutants on the atmosphere. In particular through their research, UMaine scientists have developed an understanding of how air quality has changed over time, back thousands of years. 10Green’s creators — Erik Albert, Sudarshan Chawathe, Andrei Kurbatov, Paul Mayewski, Sean Birkel and Bjorn Grigholm — say the user-friendly portal provides access to a large database of information that most people do not necessarily track, despite its importance to their quality of life.




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Climate records from Peruvian archaeological sites allowed us to build a chronology of El Niño frequency through the Holocene. Many (though not all) natural paleoclimate archives throughout the Pacific Basin support this reconstruction. Holocene El Niño Frequency > 9,000 years ago: El Niño present, unknown frequency 9,000 to 5,800 years ago: El Niño absent or very infrequent 5,800 to 2,850 years ago: El Niño present but low frequency compared to today <2,850 years ago to present: El Niño present with frequency similar to present


“Archaeological sites in Peru not only inform us about the effects of El Niño on ancient people, they also hold important records of past climate including El Niño. Studying this phenomenon in the past is a great way to merge social and natural science.” — Daniel Sandweiss, Professor of Anthropology and Quaternary and Climate Studies, Climate Change Institute

FOR NEARLY four decades Daniel Sandweiss’ research has focused on past climates, most often the behavior of El Niño, a global climatic phenomenon that affects much of the world at irregular intervals. Understanding past behavior of El Niño is essential to figuring out how it will function in the future. Sandweiss works in coastal Peru, which is ground zero for El Niño. The coastal desert enables the excellent preservation of remains. Fish bones and shells from coastal sites provide clues to ancient Niños, while sedimentary layers offer a different approach.

About every 3,000 years during the Holocene, El Niño seems to have undergone a major change in frequency. Each transition correlates to notable cultural changes, such as the advent and eventual disappearance of the first phase of monument building on the Peruvian coast. These correlations open the door to further investigation of the dynamic links between climate and culture.

El Niño archaeology Working with colleagues from many areas of Earth science and archaeology, Dan Sandweiss has pieced together a record of El Niño frequency since the start of the Holocene Epoch about 11,400 years ago. The earliest publications were the first to recognize that the phenomenon has changed through time.

El Niño behavior 13

Abi Bradford first learned about climate change in middle school. Since then, she has wanted to dedicate her life to addressing current and near-future climate change.

Photos by Karl Kreutz


“Mountain glaciers in Alaska, and in many other parts of the world, are shrinking rapidly. Understanding the history of climate and glacier change in these regions is critical for predicting their future.” — Karl Kreutz, Professor of Earth Sciences, Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences

AVID SKIER Abigail Bradford is concerned that near-future climate change could jeopardize the healthy hobby that she and approximately 11.5 million Americans enjoy. For her senior capstone project, paleoclimatologist Karl Kreutz invited Bradford, an Earth and climate sciences major with a concentration in climate systems, to assist with the spring 2014 field season research in Alaska. Kreutz is in the midst of a multiyear National Science Foundation study examining temperature change, and glacial depth and retreat in the last 1,000 years in the Alaska Range.

Results are expected to inform predictions of future planetary sea level rise. Bradford gathered snow samples on the glacier and, in the lab, analyzed their isotope ratios. The research is trying to determine if a Jan. 23, 2014 atmospheric river event that originated near Hawaii and impacted the Alaska Range yielded precipitation statistically distinct from other 2014 storms. Bradford, who graduated in 2015, plans to pursue graduate research in regional climate modeling — parameterizations on snowfall, quality and retention.

Digging deep In Denali National Park in Alaska, climate change scientists are leading a collaborative multiyear ice core-drilling project funded by a $1.1 million NSF grant. Preliminary examinations of the ice cores indicate an increase in the occurrence of summer melt on the glacier since the 1930s. By reconstructing the temperature changes through the years, researchers can observe how glaciers in Alaska have responded, which informs scientific predictions about future trends.

Save the snow 15

Photo used with permission of the Maluhsi-hikon Petroglyph Foundation. Petroglyph photo used with permission of Donald Soctomah.

The Passamaquoddy Tribe received a grant from the National


students volunteered to stay on in the Machias Bay region

Park Service to document and begin creating a management

to work on the petroglyph project. The glyphs, created by

plan for the petroglyphs along the Maine coast. Brian

pecking with a sharp stone to create tiny pits that form a

Robinson served as the project’s lead archaeologist.

design, depict moose, deer, a shaman and the arrival of

Following four weeks of field school, a number of Robinson’s

European settlers in their sailing ships.

“Today, what many fear is that the rising sea level soon will wash away all remnants of the remaining shell middens and history will be swept out to sea. The same is true of the petroglyphs.” — Brian Robinson, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute

ALONG MAINE’S coast are buried and etched pieces of the past at risk of being lost forever. Before they’re gone, University of Maine associate professor of anthropology Brian Robinson is collaborating with the Passamaquoddy Tribe to learn and preserve as much as possible. Each gravel sample, small fragment of seal and fish bone, and discarded clamshell is a piece of the larger puzzle spanning several thousand years, from early tribal occupants to the more recent mix of tribal, French and English settlers of the last 400 years. Combine that with the largest petroglyph site on the Northeast coast

of the United States and you’ve got a rare history that tells a story through images that were carved thousands of years ago into the rocks of Machias Bay. Robinson, and Lisa Neuman, assistant professor of anthropology and Native American studies, co-authored a Maine Academic Prominence Initiative Grant that funded a summer field school for anthropology students. The goal was to provide students, primarily undergraduates, with hands-on experience excavating endangered shell midden sites on Maine’s coast, while working with the modern Native communities whose ancestors lived there.

Archaeological patterns Archaeologist Brian Robinson specializes in northern and coastal hunter-gatherers, the culture history of northeastern North America, cultural and natural boundary conditions, mortuary ritual and anthropological theory. He recently led a research team that helped confirm that the Bull Brook site in Ipswich, Massachusetts is the largest known organized settlement in the North American Pleistocene.

Carved in stone 17

King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), like other seabirds, are an important part of the marine-terrestrial nutrient linkage on the Falkland Islands. The penguins transport nutrients from the ocean to the land in their feces, enabling coastal plants to thrive in an otherwise nutrientpoor environment.

Photo by Kit Hamley


“I think climate change is really going to force us to be creative with conservation solutions. This may be the kind of creative solution where we need to think beyond the level of the species and protect biodiversity as a whole.” — Jacquelyn Gill, Assistant Professor of Paleoecology and Plant Ecology, Climate Change Institute and School of Biology and Ecology

JACQUELYN GILL puts the dead to work. She pores over fossils, pollen and spores from the Earth’s past, extracting clues about ecosystems through deep time and over vast regions of the planet. Clues from the departed can help the living, says the assistant professor with the University of Maine School of Biology and Ecology. The dead are not just a collection of bones and long-dead things in a drawer, she says. Rather, extinct animals and plants are naturally concluded experiments of the past, and teasing apart bits of material from what plants and animals left behind can inform current conservation efforts. The past matters and is a great

resource to teach people about the world today, says Gill. “If we understand the consequences of extinction better, we might be able to motivate ourselves to manage biodiversity better,” she says. While resilience of fauna and flora throughout the paleorecord gives Gill hope for the future, she says climate change is creating a planet of winners and losers. Climate change predicted in the next century will push the planet outside anything we’ve experienced in hundreds of thousands of years, or even longer, Gill says, and in many cases it’s predicted to happen faster than in the recent past.

Thinking big

Protecting ecosystems “Large herbivores, from mammoths to elephants, play special keystone roles in ecosystems. When we lose them, we lose all the services they provide — from spreading nutrients to creating patches where many different plants can thrive.” — Jacquelyn Gill

Illustration by Amanda Kahl


Finding million-year-old ice in the Allan Hills required many years of geophysical measurements, including ground penetrating radar and GPS. Measurements of trapped gases, stable isotopes of water, and the geochemistry of particles were also needed to verify its age and integrity.


“We have shown that million-year-old ice exists in the Allan Hills. Our next challenge is to find it in a continuous sequence so it can be interpreted in the context of this dynamic region.” — Andrei Kurbatov, Associate Research Professor, Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences

THE PUZZLINGLY snow-free landscape of the Allan Hills has been a scientific destination for decades. Scientists first made the hour-long plane ride from McMurdo station, the primary base of U.S. operations in Antarctica, to look for meteorites. Paleoclimate scientists at the Climate Change Institute became interested in the Allan Hills when the age of the meteorites collected suggested that the ice upon which they sat could be more than 2.5 million years old. Collecting this ice and demonstrating its suitability for reconstructing past environmental conditions will extend the deep ice core record beyond where it

now stands at 800,000 years. Collecting million-year-old ice in the Allan Hills is particularly alluring as buried terrain pushes flowing ice to the surface where intense winds erode the youngest layers to reveal the older ones below. Old ice literally sits at the surface where it can be collected in large volumes. The project’s long-term goal is to establish an international climate park at Allan Hills, where scientists from around the globe can sample large quantities of ice of known ages. Such samples are needed to answer fundamental questions about natural variability in Earth’s climate.

Photo by Melissa Rhode, Graduate Student, Stanford University

Training ground “As a Ph.D. student working in the Allan Hills, I acted as a GPS survey technician, an ice core handler, a weather observer, and a camp manager — among other things. Wearing so many hats kept me warm, but it also really filled out my logistic and analytical skill set. I feel totally prepared for a career in scientific research involving fieldwork.” — Nicole Spaulding, Ph.D. 2013

Out of the blue 21

The water chemistry of the reference watershed in East Bear has seen some recovery, especially in sulfate concentration due to the decrease in sulfur emissions to the atmosphere. That recovery, however, is not as great as originally projected, and current UMaine research is contributing to understanding the complexity of ecological recovery.


“You can define short-term responses, but that’s not necessarily what happens 10 to 20 years or more later. That’s what this kind of research allows us to understand.“ — Ivan Fernandez, Professor of Soil Science, School of Forest Resources and Climate Change Institute

MORE THAN a quarter-century ago, University of Maine geochemist Stephen Norton, forest soils scientist Ivan Fernandez and colleagues wrote a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant proposal that launched a landmark whole-watershed manipulation project to study effects of acid precipitation. Norton, a national expert on acid rain, and his research team identified the perfect spot in the North Woods — a paired-stream watershed on the southeast slope of Lead Mountain in northern Hancock County, known as Bear Brook. Literally and figuratively, it was a watershed moment in the study of long-term experimental acidification.

Today, the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine research program is internationally recognized for its contributions to our understanding of the effects of air pollution and climate change on forests and streams. Research began on the privately owned land in 1987 and has continued since, making Bear Brook one of the longest running experiments of its kind in the world. Bear Brook is a National Science Foundation Long Term Research in Environmental Biology research site.

Bear Brook Watershed in Maine Research at Bear Brook and similar locations in the U.S. was sparked by an EPA effort in the mid- to late1980s to determine the ecological effects of acid precipitation. For Norton and Fernandez, the focus at the time was on determining how nitrogen, base cations and, especially, sulfur would affect their watersheds at Bear Brook. But UMaine researchers had unexpected results over the long term, including some that deviated substantially from model projections.

A watershed landmark 23

South Georgia and other sub-Antarctic islands may still contain viable ice core records if recovered in time to avoid more melting. These records would offer climate reconstruction and improved climate prediction for the Southern Ocean and its highly productive ecosystem. The Westwind Expeditions are dedicated to understanding the role of greenhouse gas warming and Antarctic ozone depletion on atmospheric circulation, ocean circulation and consequent impacts.


Tracing the Route of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Photos by Mariusz Potocki

“Ice cores provide a remarkable opportunity to investigate climate change prior to the instrumental era. Unfortunately, with increased glacier melt in response to greenhouse gas warming, ice core records are rapidly disappearing all over the world.” — Paul Andrew Mayewski, Director, Climate Change Institute

THE WESTWIND Expedition team traveled aboard the 73-foot sailboat Pelagic Australis, a vessel specially constructed for the Southern Ocean. The team accessed South Georgia at the same location first used by Sir Ernest Shackleton, on the windward side of the island amidst heavy seas and surf. Paul Mayewski, Climate Change Institute director, and graduate students Mariusz Potocki, Jeff Auger and Ben Burpee were accompanied by scientists from Universidad de Magallanes in Chile, University of Wollongong in Australia and Imperial College London.

They collaborated with and were guided by the internationally renowned ocean sailor Skip Novak, owner of Pelagic Australis and her crew — Capt. Dave Roberts, First Mate Thomas Geisel and Second Mate Lizzy Fitzsimmons. All members of the science team assisted with logistics of sailing in the Southern Ocean. The 2015 expedition followed CCI’s 2012 Kuli South Georgia Expedition, where Mayewski and a research team conducted initial glaciological research.

The Endurance legacy In 1915, ENDURANCE became entombed in ice, was crushed and sank. The team initially camped on floating ice then used lifeboats to reach Elephant Island, off the coast of Antarctica. Shackleton returned to the ocean in a lifeboat to get help. He landed the lifeboat on South Georgia, traversed over the island to reach a whaling station and eventually found a vessel that rescued his fellow explorers.

The Westwind Expedition South Georgia Leg (2015)


Zadar has undergone significant change through time, including its transformation into a Roman colony in the first centuries C.E. and a fortified Venetian stronghold in the 16th century. Because Zadar is a living city, the archaeological focus necessarily turns to sites such as Nadin in its hinterlands as areas of secondary urban development, intensive food production and resource acquisition.


“Contemporary societies inherit environments that reflect land use legacies deep into the past. Delineating such legacies is crucial for understanding environmental ‘baselines’ and projecting future challenges in the context of both human- and climate-induced changes.” — Gregory Zaro, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change

CITIES ARE a dominant factor in global environmental change today, but as a long-term process, urbanization has played a significant role in shaping our planet’s landscapes and environments for millennia, effectively creating anthropogenic landscapes. Recognition of this point opens the door for archaeological research to make significant contributions to contemporary urban/ecological issues while also generating cross-cultural knowledge about urbanism in the ancient, historic and modern worlds. In the Zadar region along Croatia’s Adriatic Sea, this process has unfolded over the

course of at least the past 3,000 years. The city of Zadar remains an important social and economic center in the region, but resource management, economic development, rural-to-urban migration and environmental policy are major concerns, particularly in the context of a growing tourism market and projected climate change in the coming century. Research at nearby archaeological sites such as Nadin can generate important information regarding the long-term process of urbanization and landscape change over time spans, ranging from centuries to millennia.

Urbanization and landscape change With a nearly 2,500-year record of occupational history, sites like Nadin afford the opportunity to investigate the relationship between phases of urban growth and decline with broader changes in landscape and environment. This kind of work can help build a range of knowledge on human-environmental interactions, offering deeptime perspectives on contemporary issues.

Anthropogenic landscapes 27

The research findings by UMaine climate scientists are providing unique insights into the processes causing rapid changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet. Their work is being aided by innovative observational technologies, new satellite missions, and advances in high-performance computing.

Photo by Gordon Hamilton


“What we are doing with the laser scanner is to map Helheim Glacier in very high resolution in three dimensions, multiple times per day for an entire year. No glacier has ever been imaged like this before.” — Gordon Hamilton, Professor of Glaciology, Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences

Photo by Adam Lewinter

Laser scanning of polar ice CCI RESEARCHERS Gordon Hamilton and Ellyn Enderlin explore the rugged and remote fjords of coastal Greenland, tracking glaciers and icebergs in an effort to understand how ice sheets respond to climate change and contribute to sea level. They conduct their research using high-resolution data collected by terrestrial laser scanners installed next to glaciers and from state-of-the-art imagery collected by surveillance satellites. Hamilton and Enderlin, along with Ph.D. candidate Jessica Scheick, are breaking new ground in glacier research using imagery collected by the

WorldView satellites — sensors so detailed they can detect objects on the surface as small as textbook from their orbits 385 miles above Earth. By exploiting the stereo imaging capability of the satellites, the researchers are able to build extremely detailed three-dimensional maps of glaciers and icebergs, and by comparing results from images collected a few weeks apart they can detect subtle changes, such as the melting of an iceberg in ocean water. Their work is shedding new light on the changes taking place around Greenland’s coast.

Hot spot

Terrestrial laser scanning allows researchers to map the surfaces of glaciers and icebergs in extremely fine detail. By comparing results from repeat scans, they can detect changes over time. Each scan is composed of millions of individual data points, and a new scan can be collected every hour using an autonomous instrument installed next to Helheim Glacier in East Greenland — an accomplishment made possible by new advances in laser technology, remote power systems and highperformance computing. The measurements collected in the field complement the results obtained from satellite images. 29

Understanding Maine’s changing climate is critical for informed risk assessment and costeffective adaptation.


“Last winter had record-breaking cold; this winter had record-breaking warmth. Maine’s climate is changing.” — Sean Birkel, Assistant Research Professor, Climate Change Institute, Maine State Climatologist

EXTREME WEATHER events that impact our daily lives — heat waves, cold waves, and intense rain and snowstorms — have become increasingly frequent in recent years across Maine and the Northeast. The interval 2005–15 registered the most days with precipitation totaling 2 inches or more at nine of 11 meteorological stations across the state, with records beginning in the early-to-mid 1900s. Other examples include: 1) A record warm winter (December–February) 2014–15 with unusually low snow cover and several rainfall events; 2) A cold wave in early 2015, with February being the coldest

month on record statewide back to 1895; 3) Record winter-spring warmth and early ice-out on lakes in 2010 and 2012; and 4) A heat wave March 21–22, 2012 with temperatures reaching above 80 degrees Fahrenheit across much of the state. Why are weather extremes on the uptick? There are two key factors linked to rising greenhouse gas concentrations: the world oceans are warming, and Arctic sea-ice is declining. These processes together increase moisture availability and change atmospheric circulation, fueling more intense storms.

CLAS The CLAS conference in October 2014 featured several online tools developed by the Climate Change Institute to assist local community planners in preparing for climate changes. The software tools — Climate Reanalyzer, 10Green and CLAS Layers — provide users access to station data, climate and weather models, and pollution and health indices as well as a planning system that invokes plausible scenarios at the community level where local knowledge can be applied to produce local solutions.

Extreme weather 31

At bird banding stations on the coast of Maine, biologist Brian Olsen is discovering how migrating birds use different habitats and the implications for each species if the landscape changes. The concern is that fast-paced changes from human development and climate change will be particularly challenging to birds.


“We have a responsibility as the caretakers of life’s diversity on this planet. And from a more utilitarian perspective, we simply do not yet understand how the loss of any species might alter the services that the natural world provides our society.” — Brian Olsen, Associate Professor of Biology and Ecology; Cooperating Associate Professor, Climate Change Institute

CANARIES ARE no longer used to detect unsafe levels of carbon dioxide in mines, but birds are still sentinels of a region’s health, says Brian Olsen, University of Maine evolutionary ecologist. Few animals and even fewer vertebrates offer a window into their private worlds like birds. So, when bird watchers in Maine spot wrens, screech owls, turkey vultures, mockingbirds, cardinals and titmice, they’re observing species that have adapted to changing climate and landscape. Climate change and habitat loss are the two biggest threats to birds in North

America, Olsen says. How birds respond to change — and which species do it well and which don’t — are central questions for Olsen. One species facing a survival threat is the saltmarsh sparrow, which breeds exclusively from Maine to Virginia. Olsen says population viability models indicate the species could face extinction in the next 30 or so years because the birds build their nests within centimeters of high-tide marks, and sea levels are expected to continue to rise.

Avian responses to environmental change Olsen’s research, in collaboration with student, Jennifer McCabe, and other investigators at UMaine, shows that prevailing wind conditions can strongly shape the migratory routes of birds. Evolving wind conditions were likely influential in establishing the paths taken by North American songbirds since the last ice age, and climate change has the potential to alter these paths again.

For the birds 33

Because shifts in temperature and salinity can change the chemistry of calcium carbonate shells, scientists in UMaine’s Climate Change Institute can use them to understand changes in the Gulf of Maine in the last 1,000 years.


“If we can use these shells to see what has happened in the Gulf of Maine, we can interpret what’s happened in the Atlantic. That’s the big prize — to try to figure out if and how North Atlantic oceanography has changed over the past 1,000 years.” — Karl Kreutz, Professor of Earth Sciences, Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences

UNIVERSITY OF Maine researchers Karl Kreutz and Douglas Introne are reading the rings of clamshells — a practice known as sclerochronology — as a crucial tool in understanding how the characteristics of the Gulf of Maine have changed in the last 1,000 years. Those changes provide links to a broader picture of how the climate has changed in the same time frame. “When something happens in the North Atlantic, it’s transmitted to Maine,” says Kreutz, a professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences, and the director of the university’s Stable Isotope Lab, where the shells are

analyzed. The lab is a Climate Change Institute facility specializing in the measurement and interpretation of the light, stable, isotopic ratio of environmentally relevant elements, such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. Kreutz, Introne and colleagues at Iowa State University have been collecting clamshells from the Gulf of Maine to build a detailed chronology of how the water temperature in the gulf has changed, which they can see in chemical analyses of the clamshells.

Ancient clamshells The researchers have been collecting the shells of Arctica islandica, a Gulf of Maine quahog clam that has a life expectancy of around 150 years. To determine how the growth of the shells has been affected by water temperature and chemistry, shell material is extracted from the rings. Through chemical analysis, stable isotope patterns in each ring can indicate if the water temperature was particularly warm or cold in a given year. So far, it appears that the Gulf of Maine has actually been cooling over the past 1,000 years and was at least cooler up to at least recent years ago when significant warming started.

Timekeepers 35

Chasma Boreale is a long, flat-floored valley that cuts deep into Mars’ north polar ice cap. Its walls rise about 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) above the floor. Where the edge of the ice cap has retreated, sheets of sand are emerging that accumulated during earlier ice-free climatic cycles.

Photo by NASA/JPL


“One of the things you need to do to understand planetary physics is to look at more than one planet. If you only look at one planet, you only get part of the picture.” — James Fastook, Professor, School of Computing and Information Science; Cooperating Professor, Climate Change Institute

WHEN VIKING 1 sent back the first images from Mars in 1976, the world was abuzz about the possibility of life on the red planet —and that mysterious mesa shaped like a human face. But James Fastook was fascinated with something else entirely: ice. Fastook was a year away from earning a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Maine, working in the lab of glaciologist Terence Hughes. Fastook’s specialty was — and continues to be — ice sheet modeling, and he hoped to apply his equations to Mars. But at the time, his model wasn’t sufficient. In time, Fastook perfected what is now known as the University of Maine

Ice Sheet Model, a multifaceted mathematical approach to ice sheet physics. Today, his work helps climate scientists gain a better understanding of the glaciological processes that have shaped both Earth and Mars. The obvious question is, why Mars? Well, Mars is the only other planet in our solar system that has glaciers. It also has moraines and eskers — the types of landscape features that result from glacier movement — so it serves as a means of comparison. Mars is significantly colder than Earth. And in many ways, the climate of Mars is much simpler than that of our planet.

Seeing red

Maine Ice Sheet Model James Fastook has developed and maintains the University of Maine Ice Sheet Model, a multicomponent model of ice-sheet physics. Components include mass and momentum conservation for the ice dynamics, energy conservation for the internal temperatures, a hydrostatically supported visco-elastic plate for bed depression and rebound, a conservation of water-based basal water model, and various simple climatologies for surface temperatures and mass balance. The model has been applied to both paleoand existing ice sheets on both Earth and Mars. 37

Every summer for the past decade, paleoecologist Jasmine Saros has trekked across snowfields and horsebacked up bouldered mountain passes to reach remote, high-altitude lakes. She arrives in the pristine wilderness just after ice off to study changes in the algal community, looking for evidence of climate change and airborne pollution.


“What’s most disturbing is that this is a wilderness area, yet it’s undergone such rapid change because of human activity.” — Jasmine Saros, Professor of Paleolimnology, Climate Change Institute and School of Biology and Ecology; Associate Director, Climate Change Institute

IN LAKE sediments, the remains of the silica cell walls of ancient diatoms testify to their centuries of existence. By combining paleolimnology with ecological field observations and bioassays of diatoms now living in the water column, paleoecologist Jasmine Saros uses the fossil records to reconstruct environmental change and to better understand the mechanisms — from rising water temperatures to decreasing numbers of zooplankton grazers — driving past and present change. Sediment cores reveal that over the past 6,000 years, the abundance of

various Cyclotella, one of the most common diatom groups, has fluctuated in lakes in the central and northern Rockies. However, in the 20th century, the diatoms’ numbers have increased not only in the Rockies, but also worldwide in alpine and temperate lakes, as well as in the Arctic. “Our recent research in alpine and arctic regions has revealed how climate change is driving these species shifts,” says Saros.

Ancient diatoms In alpine lakes in the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies, in salt lakes in the northern Great Plains and in the “Great Ponds” of Maine, Jasmine Saros and her graduate student researchers are working to interpret the data preserved in fossil records by gaining a better understanding of the relationships between environmental variables and the growth and distribution of diatoms. Two of the critical variables are nitrogen and phosphorus — essential nutrients for algae in the right quantities; in excess, the cause of poor water quality.

Decoding diatoms 39

The interdisciplinary team of climate scientists led by Aaron Putnam included researchers from the LamontDoherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University; University of New South Wales; China Meteorological Administration; University of Nevada, Reno; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; University of California, Irvine; and Xi’an Jiaotong University.


“Climate-society connections identified from the past can provide important lessons for our species as we enter into a world with over 7 billion people, centralized food distribution systems, and a changing climate.” — Aaron Putnam, George H. Denton Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences, School of Earth and Climate Sciences; Cooperating Assistant Professor, Climate Change Institute

COULD THE rise of the Mongol Empire, the greatest land empire ever on Earth, have been linked to climate change? Aaron Putnam thinks so. In 2010 and 2011, Putnam and his team traveled to the Tarim Basin in northwestern China to develop a record of how quickly the mountain glaciers of the Tien Shan retreated at the end of the last ice age. The basin, which includes the Taklamakan and Lop deserts, is twice the size of the U.S. Great Basin. “My broad goal is to unearth the record of past climate to decipher how the climate system responds to forcing factors, such as atmospheric CO2, and

under what circumstances the climate system could jump abruptly,” said Putnam. During their travels in the Taklamakan Desert — the second largest shifting-sand desert in the world, located in northwest China — they found unusual sediments. Using radiocarbon dating methods, the researchers found that living trees, water-loving reeds, and a huge Lop Nor lake were present in what is now the desert as early as A.D. 1180 until at least as late as A.D. 1820.

Climate and the Mongol rise

Cold, wet and green Aaron Putnam and his collaborators concluded that the spread of the Mongol Empire from A.D. 1206 to A.D. 1241 was coeval with the early phase of the Little Ice Age cooling and glacier advance in northern middle latitudes. This cooling impacted atmospheric circulation patterns, water balance and the spread of grazing land, which fueled horse-driven Mongol conquests across Eurasia.

Photo by Peter Strand


Americans are internationally renowned shoppers, but it takes a lot of energy (and associated emissions) to produce and transport all of the products Americans enjoy each year. Indeed nearly half of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the provision of food and goods. Despite that investment, only about one percent of the materials used to produce these goods are still in use six months after the date of purchase. In this wasteful system we bury or burn products and materials with significant value. Research suggests that by simply using products longer, we can save money and significantly reduce energy use, emissions and waste.


“It makes sense to pursue mitigation strategies that leverage existing cultural institutions. Strengthening Maine’s already vibrant reuse economy has the potential to significantly reduce emissions, materials use and waste.” — Cindy Isenhour, Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department; Cooperating Assistant Professor, Climate Change Institute

(Re)Searching sustainability RESEARCH SUGGESTS that efforts to improve the efficiency of contemporary production systems — while important — are unlikely to result in environmental improvements sufficient to avoid dangerous climate change, long-term resource depletion and significant waste management issues. This is, in part, because consumption rates are rapidly outpacing efficiency improvements. These findings have increased support for efforts to engage communities in more efficient and collaborative consumption practices that can reduce emissions and waste. Maine

has a strong tradition of reuse. From summer yard sales to Uncle Henry’s, examples of Maine’s vibrant reuse economy are prevalent throughout the state. Anthropology assistant professor Cindy Isenhour and a team of UMaine researchers are investigating the environmental, economic and social value of Maine’s reuse economy.

As an anthropologist, Cindy Isenhour is particularly interested in tracing the historical roots and cultural construction of Maine’s localized second-hand economies, as well as the environmental ethics, risk perceptions, and values of thrift and social connection that likely drive them. Research also suggests that secondhand exchange can improve local economies, build social capital and increase community trust and resilience — factors that may be especially important in the case of abrupt climate change.

Waste not 43

Temperature across the globe for Dec. 30, 2015 forecasted by the Global Forecast System (GFS) model. Note abovefreezing temperature at the North Pole — an extremely rare occurrence for the time of year.


“Climate Reanalyzer provides an easy way for visualizing an array of climate and weather information sets.” — Sean Birkel, Assistant Research Professor, Climate Change Institute, Maine State Climatologist

Climate Reanalyzer CLIMATE REANALYZER is a platform for visualizing a wide array of climate and weather datasets and models. Climate and weather information are integrated because the two systems are connected: climate is average weather. The Climate Reanalyzer aims to make data easily accessible by anyone. The Reanalyzer’s simple, intuitive interfaces are provided for plotting maps, period differences and timeseries. Climate content includes daily and monthly reanalysis, gridded surface observations, and historical station data. Weather content includes forecasts at hour and 3-hour intervals for two to

seven days. Meteorological variables include temperature, precipitation, wind and pressure, among others. The most visited page on the site is “Today’s Weather,” which shows the current forecasted conditions across the globe. This is a good place to see how air and sea-surface temperatures depart each day from the long-term average.

The goal of the Climate Reanalyzer is to make key climate information — models and station data — readily available to everyone. – For perspective on climate and weather changes since the late 1800s, plot map and timeseries from climate reanalysis models. – View daily station data from the Global Historical Climatology Network. Do you wonder how the current weather compares to the long-term average? – Visit the daily-updated Global Weather overview to see animations of current seven-day and U.S. Regional 48-hour weather forecasts. 45















Bringing Global Science to Solutions in Maine

“The Climate Change Institute offers students the opportunity to contribute to cutting-edge research bringing global science to solutions for the State of Maine.” — Paul Andrew Mayewski, Director, Climate Change Institute

Research topics (A) Extratropical Cyclone Tracks and the Icelandic Low • (B) Planning for a Changing Climate: A Participatory Approach to Fishing Community Adaptation • (C) Using Particle Trajectory Models to Predict the Effects of Climate Change on Songbird Migration • (D) Determining the Effects of Extreme Precipitation Events on Maine’s Drinking Water Resources • (E) Latitudinal Trends in Saltmarsh Sparrow Nest Failure from Competing Risks • (F) Predicting Saltmarsh Communities via Remote Sensing: A Tool for Adaptive Coastal Conservation • (G) How Does Abrupt Climate Change Influence Marine-Terrestrial Linkages? • (H) Reconstructing Hydrographic Variability in the Gulf of Maine • (I) Modeling Erosion and Shifting Activities at the Holmes Point West Archaeological Site • (J) Effects of Abrupt Warming on Diatom Communities in the Laurentian Great Lakes • (K) Evaluating the Effect of Changing Wind Strength on Thermocline Depth in Maine’s Great Ponds • (L) Extinct Megafauna May Have Consequences for Trees in Changing Climates • (M) Exploring Limits of Evolutionary Rescue in Vernal Pool Amphibians Facing Abrupt Climate Change • (N) Assessing the Ecological Effects of Increased Dissolved Organic Carbon in Maine Lakes • (O) Currents of the Past: Archaeological Evidence for Past Changes in Fish Ecology in the Gulf of Maine • (P) Identifying Optimal Thermal Habitat for American Lobsters in the Coastal Waters of New England

CCI Graduate Students conducting “Global Science to Solutions in Maine” projects include: Jeffrey Auger Samuel Belkap III Jennifer McCabe Kate Warner Katharine Ruskin Maureen Correll Dulcinea Groff Nina Whitney Kendra Bird Amy Kireta Kelsey Boeff Benjamin Seliger Jared Homola Robert Brown A. Sky Heller Kisei Tanaka

The Maine connection 47

Where’s Chuck? PERU

Technology called inReach Explorer, a global satellite communicator created by DeLorme, tracked the UMaine researchers’ movements and generated an online map so students could follow their trek in nearly real time. 48

“Science isn’t just white lab coats and pouring things into beakers. Science means putting on crampons, scaling glaciers and drilling ice cores in Peru to conduct research focused on abrupt climate change.” — Charles Rodda, graduate student, Climate Change Institute

STEM statewide WHEN UNIVERSITY of Maine climate change researchers Charles Rodda and Kit Hamley took a lunch break from drilling ice cores on a glacier in Peru, they hiked to camp and sat down to eat. That’s when they got a volley of questions via text: “How will you keep all of your ice cores from melting?” “What is your camping setup while on the glacier?” The interviewers weren’t scientists, but elementary and middle school students in Maine and beyond who connected with the researchers through a new program offered by University of Maine Cooperative Extension with support from the Climate Change

Institute and the Maine 4-H Foundation. The Follow a Researcher‘ program gives students a glimpse into a scientist’s world by providing live expedition updates, and facilitating communication between youths and researchers. In March 2015, Rodda and Hamley traveled to Peru to collect snow and ice from glaciers high in the Andes. While in Peru, Rodda and Hamley interacted with participating classrooms and students by sharing prerecorded weekly videos and live tweeting in response to questions.

University of Maine students trained as 4-H STEM Ambassadors facilitate hands-on science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) activities with 8- to 14-year-olds statewide. In addition to community offerings, 4-H STEM Ambassadors provide opportunities tied to academic offerings on campus, such as 4-H Science Saturdays. Through 4-H STEM Ambassadors, youth become connected to the research, resources and scientists at Maine’s public universities.

Follow a researcher 49

Mitigation Sustainability



Climate Change Opportunity






A transparent framework is needed for assessing impacts and addressing vulnerability in a changing climate where intended goals are: mitigation, adaptation, sustainability, resilience, opportunity and entrepreneurship.Â


“Climate change defines the 21st century in ways that we are only beginning to understand. How can we plan for the future without understanding climate change impacts on human and ecosystem health, food systems, energy production, the economy, geopolitics, and the future of storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and other extreme events?� — Paul Andrew Mayewski, Director, Climate Change Institute

CLIMATE FUTURES is an emerging Climate Change Institute product designed for the public, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and state, U.S. and foreign governments. It includes: climate understanding tools and information; a framework for assessing vulnerability, impacts, and assets affecting humans and ecosystems; and emphasizes plausible scenario climate change prediction planning. Climate prediction models are an essential element in planning for the impacts of climate change. However,

existing climate models based on classic IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) while essential stepping blocks, do not capture the full local- to regional-scale climate change known to exist in the past; nor do they capture the realities of nonlinearities such as abrupt climate change (ACC) in the past and currently emerging climate system, or the full health consequences of changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere, and as a consequence the full range of plausible scenarios for future climate.

The Climate Futures Framework The Climate Futures Framework offers a transformative mechanism and a platform for assessing and quantifying climate change, vulnerability, impacts, and opportunities based on classic IPCC and past climate analog change predictions, presented in the form of localespecific plausible scenarios, that go beyond standard linear climate predictions.

Climate Futures 51

2010–15 books by CCI authors


FY 2015 16 Special recognition awards

>250 Scholarly publications

>165 International/national/ regional/state/local presentations

>70 >65 Faculty and staff >60 Graduate students

Conferences/symposia/ meetings attended

>50 Television/radio/ newspaper media events

>$10 million in state-of-the art equipment >30 Research Expeditions mounted yearly

CCI by the numbers 53

Ice age app MAINE’S ICE age is now part of the digital age with a free iPad app, developed by University of Maine alumnus Joshua Plourde and glacial geologist and professor emeritus Hal Borns, author of the Maine’s Ice Age Trail: Down East, Map and Guide. The app (available at highlights 46 unique landscape features, including the Bubbles in Acadia National Park and boreal forest between Cutler and Lubec, created between 13,000 and 16,000 years ago when the Laurentide Ice Sheet withdrew northward.

spotlights 54

Buried fossil remains are used to reconstruct past climates and ecologies of the once bison-dominated landscape. Digging deeper to solve shrinking bison JEFF MARTIN, Climate Change Institute Ph.D. student, researches how abrupt climate change has influenced bison size. His goals as a paleoecologist and vertebrate paleontologist dovetail with his goals as a bison rancher — he wants bison and the bison meat industry to flourish. Martin is in the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, focusing on Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change. Bison, says Martin, have existed for about 2.5 million years. Understanding their past is the best way to prepare them for adaptation to future climate change, and to inform conservation and economic management of bison. While many large herbivores — including mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, giant camels and giant moose-elk — went extinct in North America at the end of the last Ice Age, bison survived.

Eastern Africa drought IN RECENT decades, drought in Eastern Africa has been on the increase, impacting millions of people. Using a wide range of observed climate data and output from the latest generation of climate models, Bradfield Lyon, research associate professor in the Climate Change Institute, along with other climate researchers, have linked these droughts to changes in sea surface temperatures in the global tropical oceans. They are using the climate models to investigate how the occurrence of drought may change in the future, in Eastern Africa and around the globe.

Ancient trash heaps hold clues IT’S IMPORTANT that archaeology — knowledge gained from studying past humans through material remains — is relevant for people today, says Sky Heller, a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology and the Climate Change Institute who is specializing in anthropology and environmental policy. For her Ph.D. project, the archaeologist is analyzing 4,200-year-old fish bones found in middens on the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. Her research has the potential to inform and support healthy fisheries in the continually warming Gulf of Maine. Sea-surface temperature in the Gulf of Maine has varied over time. The past two decades have seen considerable warming, and recordbreaking temperature occurred in 2012. Global Sea Surface Temperature is projected to increase 4o Celsius over the next century. Temperature in the Gulf of Maine is expected to follow suite, but with considerable year-to-year changes. Heller is exploring fish morphology, past ocean circulation in the Gulf of Maine, and fisheries policy. Photo by


Changing climate in classrooms IN JUNE 2015, as various school systems came to the end of their academic calendars, 17 Maine high school and middle school teachers and 12 science researchers gathered around small tables at UMaine, all with the same topic in mind: climate change. The group participated in a climate science teacher workshop led by Amy Kireta and Bjorn Grigholm, Climate Change Institute Ph.D. students. The workshop offered resources, activities and presentations to empower teachers to use a variety of tactics to discuss climate change in their classrooms. The focus of the workshop was how to incorporate data-based climate change educational activities in the classroom. Expert presentations were given by Paul Mayewski and Kirk Maasch. Resources for the classroom available on the CCI website include the Climate Reanalyzer, an intuitive platform for visualizing a variety of weather and climate datasets and models, and Maine’s Climate Future — an assessment that builds off a report released in 2009 (updated in 2015) that focuses on future trends in light of a changing climate specific to the state.

spotlights 56

Photo by Joseph Kelley

R-16-05 Lost to the sea: Maine’s ancient coastal heritage ARCHAEOLOGISTS HAVE documented approximately 2,000 Native American shell middens along the coast of Maine. These piles of oyster and clam shells, left by the ancestors of the Wabanaki people, range from 2,000 to more than 4,000 years old. Buried within the shells is a unique record of human occupation and coastal adaptation. Additionally, the shells and associated fish, animal and bird bones buried in the middens contain a wealth of paleoecological data. However, given limited resources, archaeologists can only excavate about three sites per year. Meanwhile, more of these features disappear as they slip into the water with every high tide, storm and wake from passing boats. Alice R. Kelley, Joseph Kelley, Daniel Belknap and Brian Robinson of UMaine’s School of Earth and Climate Sciences and the Climate Change Institute have been awarded a Maine Sea Grant award along with Arthur Spiess of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to allow the team to investigate the development of a noninvasive, rapid method of assessing coastal archaeological sites. This work is designed to help establish a method for prioritization of remaining sites on the basis of archaeological and scientific significance, as a guide for excavation and protection decisions. As sea level continues to rise, it is imperative to quickly formulate strategies to retain Maine’s ancient coastal heritage and paleoenvironmental history.

A historical ice core from the heart of Europe

Peru’s melting glaciers UNDERSTANDING HOW changes in climate influence tropical glaciers and glacially fed systems in the Peruvian Andes — and how these changes influence land use, water availability and water quality — is the focus of an interdisciplinary study by Climate Change Institute Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change IGERT Ph.D. fellows Dulcinea Groff, Jessica Scheick and Kate Warner. As a paleoecologist, glaciologist, and limnologist/economist, respectively, the researchers bring a breadth of perspectives to the issue, allowing them to work across disciplinary boundaries to tackle various components of this coupled natural-human system. The Peruvian Andes are home to 70 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers, which provide essential water resources to surrounding communities. In the last decade, rapid glacier recession has resulted in increased heavy metal exposure and transport, degrading the region’s water quality. In collaboration with The Mountain Institute, the researchers seek to understand the social and ecological value of the regions’ grasslands and wetlands, which immobilize the heavy metals naturally present in the valley’s hydrologic system. Their work will inform stakeholders about the climate history of the region and provide information to guide decisions about current and future water management and land use strategies.

IN 2013, a joint venture of the Climate Change Institute, Harvard University, University of Bern, and Heidelberg University retrieved a 73-meter (240ft) ice core from Colle Gnifetti in the Swiss Alps. Chemical analysis of the ice core is taking place at CCI’s W.M. Keck Laser Ice Core Facility using state-of-the-art laser-based technology to contribute ultra-high-resolution measurements of dust and other impurities. The resulting record will allow the first detailed, ice core based assessment of human-climate interactions during the first millennium AD. Concurrently, Harvard historians are reviewing pre-modern written records to create a new geo-database of climate events, which complements the scientific data. The project is supported by a grant from the Arcadia Foundation.

Photo by Nicole Spaulding


Documentary series featuring Mayewski wins emmy award A DOCUMENTARY about climate change that features a University of Maine explorer has won an Emmy Award. Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, appeared in the ninth and final episode of Years of Living Dangerously, which aired weekly April–June 2014 on Showtime. Developed by David Gelber and Joel Bach of 60 Minutes, Years of Living Dangerously won Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the Creative Arts 2014 Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. “Years of Living Dangerously offers a critical view of climate change and its impacts that drive right to the heart of the issue: ‘How does climate change impact one’s life today,’” says Mayewski. “We clearly need many more such views of critical issues.” Mayewski’s team was in Chile to collect ice cores from the melting glacier that serves as the drinking water supply for Santiago’s 4 million residents. Temperature there is rising, greenhouse gases are increasing and winds from the west that have traditionally brought moisture to the glacier have shifted, Mayewski says. By understanding trends, he says it’s possible to better predict where climate events will occur so plans can be made.

spotlights 58

Photo by George Denton

Learning from the past THE ANTARCTIC Ice Sheet holds more than 50 meters of global sea-level equivalent and is the largest potential source of sealevel rise under future warming climate. The history of the ice sheet, derived from well-dated glacial geologic landforms, affords clues as to the mechanisms underlying its behavior and to its likely future trajectory. To gain insight into the forces controlling ice-sheet response during the ice age and subsequent warming, Brenda Hall and George Denton of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences carried out a project to determine the timing of the maximum of the last glaciation in the western Ross Sea region. The results, published with three former students, Stephanie Heath, Margaret Jackson and Tobias Koffman, show that the timing of the maximum in this region occurred much later than anticipated. Comparison of records from marine-terminating vs. land-terminating glaciers suggested to them that the behavior of the ice sheet since approximately 20,000 years ago has been controlled by the interplay between mass gain from increased surface accumulation (because of warmer temperatures) and mass loss from marine downdraw. Moreover, they recognized that the unique balance of these two factors at any given location means that different portions of the ice sheet respond in different ways and at different times to climate change.

Record of stability

Falkland biodiversity

THE FIRST high-resolution glaciochemical record of West Antarctica’s last interglacial period between 140,000 and 102,000 years ago indicates that the warming episode was extremely stable compared to other ice age activity and ended after a long, gradual cooldown. A team of researchers from the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, including Elena Korotkikh, a Ph.D. candidate, analyzed a 42-meter ice core record from the Mt. Moulton Blue Ice Area. The ice contains a suite of 27 measurements, including major and trace elements, dust and temperature records. According to the researchers, the Mt. Moulton record does not hint at any of the dramatic climate-related changes now projected for Antarctica. The interglacial period that was studied is an analog for how our modern climate era would have progressed under full natural forcing of the climate system. The data is further demonstration that current changes in Antarctic climate are being impacted by human activity, according to the researchers.

LEARNING MORE about the biodiversity of the Falkland Islands and what can be done to preserve it is the focus of research by three University of Maine researchers. In December, 2014 Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology in the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and School of Biology and Ecology, led the fieldwork on the small, remote group of islands about 300 miles east of South America. With her were graduate students Kit Hamley, who is pursuing a master’s degree in quaternary studies, and Dulcinea Groff, a doctoral student of ecology and environmental science, who is part of a two-year fellowship called Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Research Traineeship in Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change. The researchers are studying the islands’ environmental history throughout the last 20,000 years to establish a baseline for conservation efforts, and to understand the effects climate change and human land use have on the area’s biodiversity.

“The Falklands are home to some of the most important penguin rookeries in the world.” — Jacquelyn Gill


“Borders? I have never seen one, but I heard they exist in the minds of most people.” — Thor Heyerdahl† (1914–2002), Distinguished Research Associate of the Climate Change Institute

CCI online Contribution Series: contribution-series The Climate Change Institute’s internationally recognized researchers are making scientific contributions that are vitally relevant to society. A sampling of topics covered include: Understanding the Climate System; Understanding Climate Change; Understanding Atmospheric Chemistry; El Niño; The Behavior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet; Paleoclimatic and Hydrologic Changes in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica; Ice Sheet Mass Balance; The Response of Shorelines (and People) to Quaternary Changes in Relative Sea Level.

Expedition Notes: The Climate Change Institute has been actively conducting field research for over 40 years. Faculty and students have

covered the globe gathering data and investigating the world. Expedition notes cover a wide variety of field expeditions such as: A Frozen Legacy Released: Chemical Pollutants in Meltwaters — Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; A Beryllium-10 Chronology of the Last Glacial Termination in the Mongolian Altai; Urban Development and Landscape Change at the Nadin Archeological Site, Croatia; Determining Superglacial Stream Bathymetry on the Juneau Icefield in southeast Alaska; History of Grounded Ice in the Ross Embayment Since the Last Glacial Maximum Using the Glacial Geology Alongside the Hatherton and Darwin Glacier System, Antarctica; 2014 Expedition in the Falkland Islands: Fossil, Peat and Sediment Collections.

Ice Core perspectives: Home.html The Ice Core Perspectives website developed by CCI Ph.D. student Bjorn Grigholm features sections on the following topics: Ice Core 101, Atmospheric Chemistry, Climate Fundamentals, Expeditions and Videos.

The Climate Change Institute greatly appreciates and acknowledges funding from: National Science Foundation, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, W.M. Keck Foundation, Comer Science & Education Foundation, Bingham Trust Fund, Dan & Betty Churchill Exploration Fund, Heinz Endowments, National Geographic, Arcadia Foundation and many other donors.


Climate Change Institute Research Areas


SCIENTIFIC CONTRIBUTIONS to the understanding of climate science

• Natural climate variability

• Major transitions in climate

• Modern glacier retreat

• Abrupt climate change and the collapse of past civilizations

• Abrupt climate change • Volcanic forcing of climate • Solar forcing of climate • Climate threshold effects

• A framework for assessing the role of human activity in climate change • Role of marine ice sheets and ice streams in rapid deglaciation and sea-level rise

• Recent change in Antarctica and Greenland • Implications of abrupt climate change to climate prediction • Software to assess changes in physical and chemical climate

The University of Maine does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, including transgender status and gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, 581.1226,

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