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Bi-national Climate Network Meeting Helps Direct Regional Actions

Presentations at the September 2013 Climate Network meeting centered on several themes: forest impacts; extreme events and adaptive management approaches; and marine fisheries/ocean acidification. Scientists shared data confirming a modest increase since 1955 in GOM region air temperatures (0.8°C or 1.44° F.) and precipitation (9 percent). Precipitation from extreme events in the GOM region has increased 74 percent since 1958. IPCC models project a more rapid increase of  2.5 to 3.5°C (4.5 to 6.3° F) by 2050, with precipitation increasing 5-9 percent and more extreme precipitation events expected. Temperatures in the Gulf of Maine have risen much more in recent decades than many other coastal waters around the world, and an anomalous 2012 “heat wave” in sea surface temperatures had damaging economic impacts.

Extreme weather already poses challenges in ecological, economic and social terms for GOM communities and much discussion focused on ways to meet these challenges through planning, emergency preparedness and infrastructure adaptations. Extreme weather events can provide a valuable opportunity to raise public awareness and the will to take preventive action. More economic analyses demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of both mitigation and adaptive management might help persuade communities to make up-front investments (a dollar invested up front in adaptation can save four dollars in response costs).

Throughout the presentations and the ensuing discussions, seven over-arching themes emerged.

1) Local: It’s important to apply research to the local level and connect it to communities.

2) Knowledge sharing: An informational clearinghouse would help facilitate improved sharing of research and best practices.

3) Communication: Citizens and communities need climate adaptation and mitigation conveyed through accessible stories and pictures, and clear web-based guidance on best adaptive management practices.

4) Data sharing: Data available across the GOM region need to be combined and shared through a readily accessible data-management system.

5) Monitoring: Monitoring, which is critical to tracking climate change impacts, must use consistent standards for data to be shared and effective.

6) Mapping: More detailed mapping is needed for many facets of the GOM region (including hydrology, habitats, water use and bathymetry). Accurate forecasting of the timing and degree of climatic changes may help foster greater resilience.

7) Analysis: More socio-economic analysis of what people value is needed in the GOM region to help guide climate change adaptation.

Following presentations and discussions, participants shared ideas for constructive roles that the GOMC and Climate Network (CN) could play in relation to the gathering’s themes. Some participants had limited understanding of the Council’s role as a regional partnership promoting the Gulf’s long-term health through connecting people, organization and information; raising public awareness; conducting environmental monitoring; and translating science into management. Some ideas suggested by participants expressed more general needs for the Gulf of Maine region that are not within the GOMC’s scope: these are recorded in Appendix A.

Recommendations for further GOMC Climate Network projects included the following:

  • Reinforce the GOM region’s capacity for place-based climate research, collaborative management and expanded funding (taking lessons from similar cross-border efforts such as the Gulf of Mexico Climate Community of Practice);
  • Create outreach material on adaptation and planning for the general public, providing landowners and communities with examples of Best Management Practices (BMPs) related to climate change and with comparative cost-benefit analyses of adaptive changes;
  • Create a list of indicator species to monitor how climate change is affecting GOM marine life;
  • Help foster the sharing and coordination of data and modelling experiences, and help compile standardized and consistent land-based datasets  (LIDAR, land-cover, LCC habitat classification map);
  • Support development of high-resolution maps (at 5 km) in conjunction with federal, provincial, state, municipal, and private entities;
  • Re-engage GOMC on subfloor mapping of the entire Gulf of Maine, and fund sediment/habitat/deposits mapping;
  • Include more representatives from the forestry and transportation infrastructure sectors on the GOMC and engage them in discussion of climate-related issues; and
  • Work with New England Governors-Eastern Canadian Premiers on resolutions concerning climate adaptation planning.

Full Summary of the September 2013 Climate Network Meeting in Orono, Maine (14 pages)

Presentations from the September 2013 Climate Network Meeting

Theme 1:  Climate and Land Use Change impacts to Gulf of Maine Watershed Forests and Wildlife, Implications for Management and Conservation

Theme 2:  Extreme Events and Actions Taken in the Region (Ignite sessions)

The best available science tells us…

Translating climate information to action means…

Adaptive Management Actions / Approaches

Theme 3:  Marine Fisheries and Climate Change (Acidification)


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  • Precipitation from extreme events in the GOM region has increased 74 percent since 1958 (NOAA).
  • Extreme weather already poses economic and ecological challenges, and these events are expected to grow more frequent in coming decades, with precipitation increasing 5-9 percent (IPCC 2013).

Credit: Sherry Godlewski

  • By 2050, climate scientists project a more rapid increase of 2.5 to 3.5°C (4.5 to 6.3° F) in regional air temperature (IPCC 2013).
  • Temperatures in the Gulf of Maine have risen much more in recent decades than many other coastal waters around the world, and a 2012 "heat wave" in sea surface temperatures had damaging economic impacts.

Projected Temperature Changes in the Gulf of Maine Region by the 2050s (°C.), reflecting the most recent IPCC models (Credit: Adam Fenech, UPEI Climate Lab)

What’s Climate Change and What’s Just the Weather?

This one-minute animation by Ole Christoffer Haga, produced by Teddy TV for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, clearly and humorously illustrates the difference between long-term climate trends and variable weather patterns.