How Global Warming Affects Winter in Maine

Students in Mrs. Cardosi’s honors biology classes are learning about how climate change can negatively impact plants. Maine plants are adapted to cold weather in the winter and this could negatively affect them because plants are living organisms and need to be within a certain temperature threshold or else their enzymes will denature (deform). This will cause the enzymes to be unable to react with proteins and carry out processes needed for the plants to live and gain needed nutrients.

Trees at Thornton Academy

According to nrcm.org, “Seventy percent of Earth’s fresh water is locked up in ice, glaciers, and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.” Warming weathers in the winter will melt snow and cause a rise in sea level in Maine and rivers will slowly go over their banks. Snow will become less common and melt easily and organisms that rely on season change won’t know what to do. One early example is geese in Maine in the middle of winter who  are migrating later.

Snow falling in the Thornton Academy parking lot

There have also been rare sightings of a bird in Maine that does not live in cold climates. According to pressherald.com, “The great black hawk, native to Central and South America, may be the most unusual bird sighted in Maine for decades…” Bird watchers have been shocked to see a bird that lives close to the equator that  can survive the climate in Maine.

Photos above taken by TA alumni, Ryan Lessard

                       According to ncrm.org, “This is particularly the case since the Gulf of Maine is warming 99% faster than the rest of the world’s oceans.” This means that Maine is especially affected by global warming negatively. With sea levels rising without anything being done the geological formations we are used to will be gone and some areas near the oceans and rivers will be covered with water. Especially in the winter, if all the snow melts from blizzards or if falling snow becomes massive rainstorms.

Precipitation on the window of a bus

Melissa Dubovik, a math teacher at Thornton Academy said, “Over recent winters, I have encountered a lot of different types of storms. It seems to me we go through periods of warmer days which allows for rain and then periods of cold weather where we see stronger storms. I have seen more snow days earlier in the school year than in recent years.” It is snowing harder meaning more precipitation and higher water levels. All the snow will melt and go into lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and the ocean. All that snow is precipitation brought in from clouds. The warmth brings up water by evaporation. With warmer temperatures, there is more precipitation. According to geo.umass.edu, “Every year for the last 10 years, Maine has received more precipitation than the 20th century average.”

Partially melted patch of snow

Temperatures may be warming in the summer but the changes in the winter are not as noticeable. Cameron Schaffer, a student at Thornton Academy said,  “I’m expecting this year to be colder and snowier. It’s been colder than average so far. I think we will have some days when it reaches 50 degrees but most days will be low mid 30’s to low 40’s” temperature is staying around the same but if it is snowing more then there is more precipitation meaning more water.

Sky while snowing at Thornton Academy

According to an article by David Abel at bostonglobe.com, “With milder winters sparking a surge in deer ticks, park rangers now duct-tape their ankles while combing the wilds of Acadia, where native flowers are disappearing at alarming rates and invasive species are thriving.” Things used to Maine weather are becoming less common and invasive species used to warmer temperatures are thriving. Organisms in Maine need to adapt to the climate or be forced to extinction if global warming is not stopped. Organisms in Maine are used to colder weather and the invasive species moving up into Maine are used to those new temperatures.

Area at Thornton Academy where all snow melted

Thomas Keating who has lived through many winters said, “I grew up in Aroostook County, the winters were colder in temperature. Many below 0 nights compared to nowadays. Much more snow that began in November and many years went to late May. These years were the 50s. Less use of coal and wood burning in factories in the countries that use them. Like in China where the pollution causes smog. The weather patterns have changed and there are much more serious storms and increased droughts and that will affect how people live because the storms are much more destructive and the droughts more severe that it’s going to affect agriculture and the ability to produce food for people.” With global warming occurring it will be detrimental to everyone and their way of life if action is not taken. Without a switch to green energy, all the chemicals will go into the air and cause not only heating on a global scale but will cause even more massive storms and flooding.

Fresh snow at Thornton Academy as it snows
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