This winter, when the National Weather Service reported that Champlain finally froze all the way across to Vermont on March 8, it was like hearing that a steamboat had crossed the lake: typical in the 19th century, improbable in the 21st. The lake ice officially “closed” in almost every year of the 1800s and the first half of the 1900s, but has done so only 11 times since 1990.
Conservationists complain of a federal government now more welcoming of pollutants, including carbon dioxide, as the Adirondack region’s forests and snowy winters are changing with a warmer climate.
For the past five years, biologist Lee Ann Sporn and a team of Paul Smith’s College students and Adirondack Watershed Institute stewards have monitored the rapid spread of tick-borne diseases—especially those rarely found this far north or at these elevations—throughout the region.
Winter is shortening and getting less predictable, with yearlong consequences that will intensify as the century moves along, according to the authors of the regional chapter of the National Climate Assessment.
Some parts of the world, including much of North America, outpace the global average in large part because much of the planet is covered by water and it takes more energy to warm oceans than land. That explains how the Adirondacks can be so far ahead of global change.
North Country Climate Reality plans to help Adirondack Park residents and local officials envision ways of adapting with a one-day conference in Silver Bay on Lake George next month.
The state, local towns, and individuals are taking steps to adapt to life in a warming world. By MIKE LYNCH The Adirondack Park is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Lakes and ponds are covered with ice for fewer days than they were a century ago; spring is starting earlier in the lower elevations; and storms are becoming more intense and frequent. Scientists predict that in the future the Park will be a much different place. Wildlife species that can’t adapt to the warmer weather are expected to move northward or to higher elevations. Buildings that remain in floodplains are expected to be more vulnerable to flooding. Plant communities, especially those on high summits and boreal lowlands, >>More
Climate change is expected to bring heavy rains, more floods, and more damage to communities. By Mike Lynch A few years ago, Paul Smith’s College scientist Curt Stager came across a rare find that he says helps tell the story of climate change in the Adirondacks: the journal of Bob Simon, a retired engineer and longtime resident of Cranberry Lake. Simon, who died in 1991, kept a meticulous journal with entries for temperature, wind direction, barometric pressure, water level, ice cover, when loons arrived, and when thunderstorms occurred. He made entries twice a day, morning and night, for the last >>More
Warmer climate bodes ill for Adirondack businesses that rely on winter tourism. By Mike Lynch The most profitable months for the tourism-based businesses in the Adirondacks are without question July and August. This is when families take their summer vacations, the weather is warm, and the bugs are tolerable. But while summer is crucial for small businesses, a successful winter season can mean the difference between making money or not for the year. Vinny McClelland, owner of the Mountaineer in Keene Valley, knows this as much as anyone. His business depends on customers who recreate in the outdoors. In winter, they include >>More
Warming temperatures could bring disturbing changes in cold-water lakes and in boreal bogs, threatening such seminal Adirondack species as the brook trout, lake trout, and common loon. By Mike Lynch Sitting beside a small stream in the southwestern Adirondacks, Spencer Bruce clipped a tiny brook-trout fin and placed it in a small container. The fin is one of more than a thousand he has collected in recent years from waters in New York State for a genetic study. Studying the genetic makeup of fish may provide clues to how resilient a population is to climate change and other environmental problems. In >>More