Members of the Champlain Society, the group of 1880s-era college students who studied the natural history of Mount Desert Island. PHOTO COURTESY OF MDI HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Citizen scientists needed to document climate change

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND Six island nonprofits have come together to document the impacts of climate change on bird, pollinator, air and sea water temperatures. In a new project called Landscape of Change, the partners are comparing historic observations and data with modern findings to document change over time with a goal of better understanding how the island is changing. 

The Mount Desert Island Historical Society cares for an important collection of historic natural history observations taken on the island by a group of students from Harvard, known as the Champlain Society. These students spent a decade in the 1880s exploring island ecosystems and documenting their findings. The historical society was curious if these records could be used as a baseline from which to measure changes seen today that could be linked to climate change.  

To help answer this question, a new partnership was formed between the historical society, the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, College of the Atlantic, the Schoodic Institute, Acadia National Park and A Climate to Thrive. Working together over the past year, the partners digitized and mapped the historic data and launched a new website sharing those findings on April 19. 

New data will be collected throughout the year in a series of citizen science programs hosted by Acadia National Park and the Schoodic Institute. The first of these programs will be held at Sieur de Mont in Acadia National Park on Sunday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All of the partners will be available to talk about the project, their findings and how to get involved. Visitors are encouraged to stop by and learn more about climate change, how to promote climate resiliency and how to get involved in recording new observations. Suggested hikes will be recommended for ideal viewing of birds, pollinators and emerging spring flora.  

Participants will learn more about citizen science apps they can download to their phones to participate in recording new observations. These new observations will be added to 140 years of data to help scientists track the impacts of climate change. 

All participants must wear masks and practice social distancing in compliance with all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.  

This program is free and open to the public. Hikes of varying degrees of difficulty are available. For more information, contact Raney Bench at [email protected] 

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