A report pulling together research by scientists around the state may provide answers.
A report that’s due next year on global warming’s potential effects in Maine will for the first time pull together research being done by scientists at the University of Maine and other institutions around the state, according to one of the project’s leaders.
“We’re not setting out to begin whole new research projects,” said George Jacobson, a professor affiliated with the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.
“We’ve been doing research for years,” he said, but “we have never really pulled things together with the focus on Maine.”
Gov. John Baldacci asked the Climate Change Institute to undertake a Maine climate change assessment and report back in November 2008 on potential effects, challenges and opportunities facing the state as the planet warms. While the shifting climate will mean the decline of some forest species and crops, it could mean the expansion of others.
The report also is expected to identify monitoring needs and recommend a framework for ongoing dialogue between scientists and policy makers.
The cost of the project is unknown and will be borne by the university and the research institution, according to Jacobson, one of the researchers leading the effort. While individual researchers and institutions will contribute their time and effort, the only anticipated financial cost could be to print the report for the governor, he said.
Scientists will use existing models and projections of climate change and compile brief reports from a variety of researchers with expertise ranging from marine biology to economics. They will meet periodically to review the work, Jacobson said.
“What’s exciting for us is the idea of bringing together people with separate but quite advanced understandings of their small parts of it,” said Jacobson, an expert on forests and climate change. State Rep. Ted Koffman, D-Bar Harbor, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee, said policy makers frequently draw on the experts but have not had a single climate change clearinghouse.
“It’s very valuable to have one location that inventories all of those changes over time and is scientifically credible,” he said. Koffman’s daughter is a graduate student at the Climate Change Institute.
In his letter to the Climate Change Institute, Baldacci wrote that the report “may well have significant and direct bearing on the future economic prosperity, quality of life and safety of Maine’s residents.”
Jacobson said he’s confident the university can help.
“The models are suggesting that Maine’s climate in a century, or sooner, could be much more similar to the current climate in Connecticut, if not New Jersey. Not necessarily a disaster; just different,” he said. “I’ve felt for some time that this is such an important issue that the private and public sector should have this in mind.