Forest Climate Change Initiative

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Maine’s Forest and Climate Change

Maine has a strong gradient in climate ranging from maritime to alpine, which helps to contribute to a diverse forest (Figure 1). There are a number of issues that link both climate and forests including tree growth and mortality, forest health, operability, ecosystem services (carbon storage, water quality, wildlife habitat), and recreation opportunities.

Map of Maine climate zones and associated forest types
Figure 1. Climatic zones in Maine from Briggs & Lemin (Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 1992, 22(6): 801-811) with US Forest Service Forest Inventory & Analysis forest type cover. Map created by Dr. Aaron Weiskittel.

With a changing climate, Maine has and will continue to experience a warmer and wetter climate (Figure 2) with a higher potential for extreme events and greater weather variability in concert with a changing chemical climate (e.g. increased CO2, decreased sulfur deposition). This has significant implications for the role of forests in climate mitigation, greenhouse gas emissions, a changing renewable energy landscape, and adaptation that includes minimization of risk as well as new opportunities. In particular, implications of a changing climate include alterations in forest species composition and productivity, forest recreation opportunities, risk of pests and diseases, winter operability, and forest hydrological regimes.
Maps of projected relative changes in mean annual precipitation and temperature
Figure 2. Downscaled projections of future temperate and precipitation based on an ensemble of 17 CMIP5 model predictions available at bit.ly/climate_estimates. Map created Dr. Aaron Weiskittel.

The University of Maine has significant expertise on climate and forest resources, which exists across academics units, centers, and institutes. This web portal is intended to serve as a point of access to these resources and encourage networking among university expertise as well as external stakeholders.

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FCCI Outreach

In April 2019, the FCCI hosted a session the the Maine Water and Sustainability Conference to highlight the goals of this initiative and to begin a larger discussion on research priorities. The session featured an overview of current FCCI activities, presentations on the current state of knowledge across multiple disciplines, and a panel discussion of stakeholders on their experiences and information needs regarding emerging weather patterns and climate change. 

Potential Concerns to Be Addressed

  • Climate effects and unpredicatability on forest products industry and tourism (ski industry,
    hiking, state and national parks, etc.) infrastructure
  • Big data needs on precipitation, erosion, and variability
  • Effects on tree growth and species migration
  • Increase/decrease of native and non-native pests
  • Spatial mapping and forecasting of effects
  • Implications for sustainable eco-tourism and forestry

Thanks to all who joined us for the FCCI session at the 2019 Maine Sustainability & Water Conference!

We hoped you found the session useful and we are working on a White Paper based on the afternoon’s discussions around research priorities stakeholder experiences, and information needs regarding emerging weather patterns and climate change. 

FCCI Presentation and Speaker Bios