The University of Maine is launching an initiative designed to help Mainers better understand how the state is affected by Arctic climate.
Called “UMaine Arctic,” the project explores how the changing climate will impact the state's fisheries, native populations and coastal communities.
"The Arctic has a huge impact on life in Maine," says Christopher Gerbi with UMaine’s College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture. He says the Gulf of Maine is fed by waters from the arctic regions of Canada and Greenland.
"As the water changes temperature, that changes the temperature in the Gulf of Maine, which has a huge impact on all our fisheries, the lobster industry," he says.
And on all of the industries that rely on those industries, such as marine suppliers, restaurants and coffee shops in coastal communities, says Gerbi.
Other impacts, he says, include sea level rise, impacts to native ways of life, as well as commerce and shipping opportunities as ice-clogged waterways become navigable.
"We absolutely have to know what's going on, but, more importantly, we have to share what's going on with the people who are going to be impacted by it so they can plan well for it," says Gerbi.
The project has been under development for a year, and officially launched Thursday.
Gerbi says UMaine Arctic will serve as a center that connects student and faculty engaged in arctic research, as well as a hub for outreach to the state's Climate Council, regulators, communities and other stakeholders.