Posts Tagged ‘climate matters’

Monday, April 15, 2024

Carbon mapping

A map of New York showing tree cover and developed lands

Nearly five years ago, New York state passed an ambitious climate law intended to reduce and counteract fossil fuel emissions contributing to climate change. Storing carbon dioxide, a gas released from burning fuel, is key to achieving the goals outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Much of that can be accomplished through protecting carbon-absorbing forests across the state.

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Monday, April 8, 2024

Solutions in our backyard

black spruce

Last week I sent you a story on how climate change could be triggering a mass movement of species northward. The Adirondacks could be a critical habitat for those migrants.

So, how do we help?

During an interview with a wildlife connectivity expert from The Nature Conservancy, I asked that question. It turns out the solutions to protecting migrating species are mostly uncomplicated: Conserve the land you have.

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Monday, April 1, 2024

Connecting wild spaces

Elk in Alberta, Canada

The Adirondack Park is home to a universe of animals and plants. From fire-colored efts to shy black bears, abundant waters and forested lands support a dense network of Northeastern biodiversity.

So, you may be wondering why a photo of an animal that hasn’t existed in the park for centuries is featured at the top of this newsletter.

It’s possible that elk could slowly move back to the Adirondacks in the future. Scientists see evidence for animals and plants inching northward and to higher elevations as Earth warms from accelerated climate change. The park has an outsized role in ensuring their survival, scientists say.

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Monday, March 25, 2024

Signs of Spring

An American robin.

This week marks the first calendar-official days of spring. Some ground around the Adirondacks is covered in white while other parts are bare and evolving into the next season.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation in early March advised hikers to avoid elevations higher than 2,500 feet, an announcement made earlier than usual. The park saw the warmest winter on record, producing spring-like weather during the last weeks of the season.

But it’s still unknown how the conditions will impact the arrival of the traditional “signs of spring.”  We do know it’s been an early maple season. 

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Monday, March 18, 2024

Literacy and solutions

Paul Smiths College students on a boat on a lake

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay Watershed Education and Training program awarded a grant to Paul Smith’s College recently. The $160,000 award boosts the college’s funding for climate programs and focuses on climate literacy and solutions. Under the terms of the grant, a new Youth for Climate and Water Action project will unite school districts in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes around studying the Great Lakes watershed.

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Sunday, March 10, 2024

The warmest winter

nordic skis laid across a muddy trail with minimal snow

After more than a year of living in the Adirondacks, I’ve learned that winter is highly anticipated and celebrated by most. Months of powdery and icy conditions in the region have historically attracted outdoors enthusiasts to experience the park’s extensive cold season. But this winter’s record-breaking warm temperatures and minimal snowfall transformed the season, shortening outdoor recreation times and disrupting some events.

Winter temperatures in the Saranac Lake area were the warmest on record this year. According to data from the National Weather Service, the average temperature from December to February was 24.1 degrees. The previous record was 23.5 degrees in the 2015-16 winter season. Read the story here. 

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Monday, March 4, 2024

Quieter forests, silent spring?

A song sparrow and a white-throated sparrow

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with Jason Hill, an ecologist with the Vermont Center For Ecostudies. He recently published a report with data going back to 2010 showing a steep decline in many mountain birds. Some of the data came from the Adirondacks.

Climate change is a root cause, he said.

“The processes driving these long-term trends that are reported in the State of the Mountain Birds report aren’t ephemeral,” he said “They are choices that we make as a society.”

But there are some ways to help local birds. Click here to learn more.

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Monday, February 26, 2024

The power of peatlands

aerial view of forest

[On Feb. 22,] we launched the first installment of Climate Voices of the Adirondacks, a new series where I’ll explore climate solutions and the people working on them. I spoke with naturalist Charlie Reinertsen about peatlands and the ways he’s spreading the word on them.

Watch the introduction to the series here. Read our story and see some vibrant photos of the ecosystems at this link. 

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Monday, February 19, 2024

Rewiring winter

An electric snowmobile in winter snow.

Despite the season’s limited snowfall, snowmobilers trekked across parts of the park in January and February, including on the Adirondack Rail Trail. Research shows that snowmobiles cause harm to the environment from their exhaust and noise pollution.

But new technology points to a zero-emission transition.

Developed in Canada, electric snowmobiles have yet to become popular in the states and in the Adirondacks, though some are encouraging their presence. That includes the former executive director of the New York State Snowmobile Association.

Read the story here.

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Monday, February 12, 2024

How can the Adirondacks stay a four-seasons destination?

The Adirondack Rail Trail in early February./

A comprehensive study and analysis of climate change’s effects on New York detailed what many in the Adirondacks already believe: winters are warming.

To combat the loss of tourism to melting ice and fewer snow showers, the recreation industry is adapting.

The state’s climate report, which was released in full last week, highlighted the park’s cycling destinations as a potential solution to balance a loss of winter tourism.

“The Adirondacks have already experienced a long-term decrease in snowfall,” an analysis of the assessment reads.

The Adirondack Rail Trail was held up as a four-season example. Read the story here. 

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Monday, February 5, 2024

Forests, climate and Paul Smith’s

Fall at Paul Smith’s VIC

The Adirondack Park’s only four-year college is looking to expand its funding sources and boost enrollment using several grants. With about $3 million banked and $4 million more pursued, Paul Smith’s College is tracking new opportunities.

Some of their funding was awarded for their climate education.

“You can’t start to separate forestry education from climate education because if you follow the literature, we know that the Adirondacks is a big carbon sink,” Dan Kelting, president of the college, told me yesterday [Jan. 31]. “And so the Adirondacks plays a large role in regulating the carbon that’s in our atmosphere.”

There are also plans to establish a new research institute on campus. Read the story here.

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Sunday, January 28, 2024

Shaping young minds

Adirondack Youth Climate Summit participants hold an ”I Am Pro Snow” rally at Mount Van Hoevenberg in 2016

Teachers and students in New York public schools may get more climate education direction and lessons.

Several educators from the North Country are supporting a bill to expand climate education in New York classrooms.

Introduced by Sen. Andrew Gounardes, D-Brooklyn, and Assembly member JoAnne Simon, D-Brooklyn, the new legislation would direct teachers to prepare and instruct science, adaptation and career-focused lessons on climate change.

Although students receive some climate education in public schools, many environmentalists and teachers say the instruction doesn’t measure up to the severity of the global issue.

Click the link to read about the bill and why some Adirondackers are pushing for it.

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Friday, January 26, 2024

Report: More 90-degree days ahead

snowy aerial shot

Part of a multi-year climate assessment on New York’s environmental future was released last week. In 2021, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced the assessment with an extensive group of researchers and participants.

Projections and historical data indicating changes in temperature, precipitation, extreme weather and more were developed by scientists.

According to the authority, the assessment team is wrapping up a technical report on proposed climate adaptation strategies across industry sectors including agriculture, transportation, energy and buildings. Ecosystems, human society, water resources and health are also on the list. Adirondack Explorer will continue covering the findings as they are released. Read the latest here.

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Saturday, January 13, 2024

Under a spreading chestnut tree

A man plants a chestnut tree

Starting today [January 11], Climate Matters will reach your inbox on Thursdays instead of Fridays. Happy reading!

This week I have a story on forest restoration using genetically-modified trees. The American chestnut tree, found in many pieces of art and literature, used to be abundant in Eastern forests. A fungus introduced in the 1900s, now known as chestnut blight, wiped out much of the population.

Although the Adirondacks were never home to a high population of the tree, climate change may have altered its range as the park’s environment has become warmer, a researcher told me.

At this link: A high-stakes restoration process that could take generations to accomplish, with some bumps along the way.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 6, 2024

Where’s winter?

Pond hockey and skating on Holcomb Pond in the Sentinel Wilderness area of the Adirondacks, near Lake Placid.

Last winter in the Adirondacks saw relatively mild temperatures and unstable ice. By February 2023, one skater said he would have traversed 200 miles of ice by then. But conditions caused Dan Spada, a retired supervisor in the natural resources department at the state Adirondack Park Agency, to lose about a fourth of that mileage.

Lake Champlain, a favorite wild ice skating spot of Spada’s, has yet to fully freeze this winter, he said. Human-caused climate change is spiking temperatures across the globe, leading to thin ice and rainy winters in climes like the Adirondacks.

The park, along with the entire Northeast, is already feeling the effects of climate change.

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