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Forest Climate Change Initiative


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.