Welcome to the blog of the ARC, dedicated to encourage, facilitate, and disseminate scholarship that advances the quality and vitality of the Adirondack Park and related environs. For more information on our history, projects, annual conference, and the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, please visit our web page at www.adkresearch.org.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

With warming trend, ice forms later in Adirondacks


Science calls Mirror Lake an indicator
By MICHAEL VIRTANEN Associated Press Writer

ALBANY — Ice is forming this week on picturesque Mirror Lake, weeks later than it once did as scientists continue to document a century-long warming trend.

"The weather is so variable, and the data sets are so few or incomplete, the ice cover is the one thing that stands out above everything else," said Curt Stager, professor of natural sciences at Paul Smith's College. "It's the most obvious, irrefutable sign of climate change in the North Country."

Stager and three other scientists co-authored a recent paper in the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies plotting regional climate changes since data collection began in the early 1900s. The data showed ice on Mirror Lake forming 14 or 15 days later and melting three or four days earlier than it did then, consistent with records from several other high-elevation Adirondack lakes.

Colin Beier, a researcher at the Adirondack Ecological Center of the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry, said climate is affected by geography in the 6 million-acre Adirondack Park, a place with mountains, lake effects, weather from Canada and other local factors.

A separate preliminary trend analysis from 1950 to 2008 found high mean temperatures in the High Peaks area increasing a few degrees while those in the southwestern Adirondacks around West Canada Lakes were decreasing by a similar amount.

"There's a lot of hysteria about climate change right now," Beier said. "It's important for us as scientists to present as sober and clean a picture as possible."

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 found it "very likely" that most observed warming globally is due to the buildup of heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels. A 193-nation conference ended last weekend in Copenhagen with a limited agreement to address global warming amid acrimony over failure to reach a legally binding deal. Scientific debate continues over causes and forecasts.

With data from seven sites around the Adirondack region, the four scientists reported mean annual temperatures from 1926 to 2005 rose overall only "slightly," or about 1.5 degrees. However, measured over the most recent 30 years, the trend was more pronounced and statistically significant for the months of September, up an average of 4.7 degrees, and December, up 3.4 degrees. May was 1.7 degrees cooler.

Some of the best ice records came from Mirror Lake, which can be seen from Main Street in Lake Placid.

One of the longer-term goals of the research is to develop useful projections, with knowledge of underlying mechanisms and avoid the "oversimplification" of projecting historical trends forward, they wrote.

Stager noted that there was a warm spell in the 1950s in this part of the world and said that depending on the time frame used, it was possible to draw different conclusions. "If you start in the 1950s, it makes it seem like there's not much change. If you start in the '60s, it's a ramp upwards everywhere," Stager said.

The corrected United States Historical Climatology Network data they used came from Dannemora, Indian Lake, Lake Placid, Stillwater, Tupper Lake and Wanakena in the Adirondacks, as well as Lowville just west toward the Tug Hill Plateau.

They also found an increase in stream discharge over a century, indicating "an overall wetting trend," and more rain, particularly in August. Some migratory birds also are now arriving earlier.

[Photo: A dog sled navigates Mirror Lake during an earlier winter. 2004 Plattsburgh Press Republican File Photo]

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New book on the "Great Experiment in Conservation"

The current and two former presidents of the Adirondack Research Consortium recently finished editing "The Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from the Adirondacks". The new book, which resulted in part from collaborations through annual ARC conferences, was published by Syracuse University Press in July of 2009. Editors William Porter, Jon Erickson, and Ross Whaley pull together a who's who of Adirondack scientists, writers, advocates, and politically active citizens who write about the natural, cultural, and economic cornerstones of the Adirondack Park across 34 chapters.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Adam Hothschild writes:
I’d love to see this important book be required reading for every New York State legislator and opinion-maker. Alive with personal voices, it is also packed with vital
information and at times justifiably angry at what we human beings have done to the Adirondacks. It reminds us of what we've lost, of what we can still save, and of
what a rare treasure this extraordinary region is.
A recent review by Midwest Book Reviews describes the book as a:
... seminal work of impressive scholarship ... [and] a core addition to academic library Environmental Studies reference collections, and especially recommended for non-specialist general readers with an interest in American conversation history and land preservation in general, and the Adirondack Park in particular.
For more information, visit the 2009 spring catalog page of Syracuse University Press. You can also listen to Ross Whaley, co-editor and former Adirondack Park Agency chairman, talk about the "Great Experiment" in a September 17th, 2009 interview with Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pioneering Acid Rain Researcher Receives Adirondack Achievement Award


The Adirondack Research Consortium (ARC) presented the 2009 Adirondack Achievement Award to pioneering acid rain researcher Dr. Dudley J. Raynal of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. Dr. Raynal’s award was presented at a luncheon ceremony on May 21, 2009 as part of the 16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks, May 20-21, 2009, at the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid.

In 1978, Dudley Raynal initiated the establishment of the acid rain monitoring station at the Huntington Wildlife Forest in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. This is one of the oldest monitoring stations in the U.S. and has been in continuous operation for 30 years. Information gathered from this and other monitoring stations throughout the country has provided the scientific basis to identify the causes of this problem. Through the years, Dudley has also been involved in many research projects to determine the impacts of acid rain on Adirondack lakes, plants, and forests.

Dr. Raynal’s work has been extensively published and he has received numerous international research awards. Dudley recently retired from the position of Dean of Instruction and Graduate at SUNY- ESF where he is both Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Teaching Professor.

The ARC’s Adirondack Achievement Award is an annual award given to an individual or group of individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions to the long term sustainability of the Adirondack Park. Dr. William Porter, ARC President, said “Dudley Raynal’s pioneering leadership in researching the impacts of acid rain is a clear indicator of his commitment to the future of the Adirondack Park and the broader scientific community”.

In the photo above, Dr. Porter, at left, presents the 2009 Adirondack Achievement Award to Dr. Raynal. (Photo taken by Ken Rimany, Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Research Notes: Valuation of Natural Resource Improvements in the Adirondacks


The posting of this publication, Valuation of Natural Resource Improvements in the Adirondacks, is a follow up to the initial post regarding the study of how much people are willing to pay for natural resources in the Adirondack Park. Published in 2004 by H. Spencer Banzhaf, Dallas Burtraw, David Evans, and Alan J. Krupnick, this article outlines specific facts and figures that were arrived to after surveying Adirondack residents. The estimates collected by this group revealed that residents would be willing to pay $48 to $107 annually to benefit the Adirondack region, implying the potential for vast statewide benefits. This article will hopefully offer a little more insight and connectedness to the previous posting.

Research Notes: Mercury Contamination in Sport Fish in the Northeast


Mercury deposition in aquatic ecosystems is becoming an increasing issue both worldwide and in the Adirondack park region. In the publication "Mercury Contamination in Sport Fish in the Northeastern United States: Considerations for Future Data Collection," researchers studied the levels of mercury contamination of sport fish in lakes throughout the Northeast. They were met with numerous obstacles that led them to create suggestions for future data collections. The main purpose of their study was to judge the human dimensions of the food web and natural resources, and to determine how humans would be affected by the contamination present in the aquatic ecosystems. Although the study was flawed, the researchers were able to outline ways in which future research could be conducted in order to better judge potential impacts of mercurial fish on human health.

Research Notes: Wind Turbines in the Adirondack Park


In March, the Adirondack Park Agency announced that it wants to make it easier for residents to construct wind turbines on their property. Through recent initiatives calling for an increased presence of alternative energy sources in the region, the APA believes that wind energy is a step in the right direction. It is the hope of the APA that the Adirondack community will no longer feel discouraged from installing small scale turbines in their communities based on their revised regulations. The proposal, scheduled to be put up for APA board review this past April, would open up many opportunities for the erection of wind turbines throughout the park.

Article Link

Research Notes: The W!LD Center

This past November the W!LD Center hosted the conference: ‘The American Response to Climate Change - The Adirondack Model: Using Climate Change Solutions to Restore a Rural American Economy.’ The intended focus of the conference was to look for methods counteracting climate change which could be used to boost the Adirondack economy. One of the proposed solutions, outlined in the article "Wild Center Details Planned Conference to Address Ways Early Action on Low Carbon Economy can Benefit Adirondack Economy", is to lower the carbon emissions of the region through green design and alternative energy sources. There was also the suggestion of capitalizing on the vast water resources within the region, which, in the future, could greatly benefit the local economies of the Adirondack region.

Research Notes: Landscape Ecology of Eastern Coyotes

The 2007 Ecological Applications article "Landscape Ecology of Eastern Coyotes Based on Large-scale Estimates of Abundance" concerns the main areas of coyote habitation in the Adirondack region. Through fecal sampling and analyzing areas of disturbed forest, researchers worked to create a map of where this fairly new species is concentrating in the Adirondacks. The study revealed, based on abundance models, and contrary to previous assumptions, that forested areas are very suitable habitats for these coyotes. The research collected showed the highest density of coyote population present on the Southwestern edge of the Adirondack Park.

Research Notes: CFES Program

Kristen Ward, a student at Middlebury College, recently published her thesis regarding the non-profit organization College For Every Student (CFES) and its work in Adirondack schools. Entitled "From “one more step” to college for every student: the evolution of a nonprofit organization in two Adirondack schools", the focus of her thesis was to find if CFES was successful in these schools, and to address the potential issues that teachers at these schools face. What Ward found was that many New York schools felt CFES was a school reform organization, despite it being an organization for providing access to college. This indicates a disconnect between the ideals of CFES and the experiences of the teachers, who find their definitions of success very different from that of the organization.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Research Notes: Economy and Ecology in the Adirondacks

In a 2008 publication in the Discussion Papers of Resources for the Future, the study "An Update on the Science of Acidification in the Adirondack Park," by Mische John et al, reviewed how the social and physical sciences were being brought together in Adirondack communities that had been affected by acid rain. Based on the previous work of Cook et al in 2002, which used its scientific findings to determine how readily Adirondack residents would put money toward ecological improvements that would be brought about by reduced acidification in the Park area. Mische John et al used this follow-up study to update the information already provided by Cook, and are hopeful that the updated science will be helpful in reevaluating the willingness of Adirondack communities to pay for ecosystem renewal in their areas.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Research Notes: Mercury Fluxes and their Relation to Global Warming

Over the course of 2005 and 2006, Clarkson University researchers studied the flux of gaseous mercury from the forest floor of the Adirondack Mountains. The study revealed that the flux of mercury was elevated during times of raised temperature, as well as periods of direct solar radiation. The researchers concluded that:
The developed model can be used to examine how these Hg fluxes may be impacted by global warming. For example if the temperature increased a uniform 1 °C throughout the growing season (period when the ground is not covered by snow) the Hg emission flux is predicted to increase by 6.4%. Additional increases in fluxes from the ground would occur if the length of the growing season increases.
In turn, their results could also be used to better predict how these mercury fluxes will influence the ecosystems of the Adirondack forest. Findings were published in the February 2009 issue of the journal Environmental Pollution.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Research Notes: A study indicates that garlic mustard is rapidly spreading and altering forests across the east

Researchers from Boston University and Harvard University recently completed a study exploring the ecological implications of the invasion of Alliaria petiolata – better known as garlic mustard – in the Northeast. Not only is the species spreading at a rate of 6400 square kilometers per year, according to this study it is also leading to detrimental changes in the ecosystems of the Eastern forests in terms of biodiversity and soil composition. Garlic mustard, because of its adaptive capabilities and unique characteristics, seems to be right at home in the forests of the east, and could potentially lead to dramatic changes in these ecosystems.
An abstract, as well as a link to the publication, is available at: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1641/B580510.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Call For Papers

16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks
Community Sustainability

May 20-21, 2009, High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid, NY

The Adirondack Research Consortium (ARC) invites research papers to be presented at the 16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks. This far reaching program will explore the latest information and research on such topics as community development and infrastructure, forest management, trends in private land development, findings of the Adirondack Assessment Project, GIS collaborations, green farming, energy technologies, the impacts of climate change, and opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint. The ARC invites and welcomes research on these and other topics including natural sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities relevant to the future of the Adirondack region.

To be considered, please complete the 2009 Abstract Submission Form, which is available on the ARC webpage at adkresearch.org. An ARC conference committee will review all submissions to determine acceptance for presentation at the conference. The ARC expects that all presenters will register for the conference.

The ARC Invites Paper Presentations and Posters

Paper Presentations: Papers will be presented in panel discussions of two or three participants that run throughout the conference. Talks must be limited to 20 minutes for the presentation and question/answer period. Your audience may have lay persons who, although they might have a keen interest in your research and results, may not be fully conversant with the jargon of your science. We encourage you to use plain language. Slide, overhead, and digital projectors will be available in all meeting rooms.

Poster Presentations: Posters will be prominently displayed throughout the conference. Posters must be mounted on a rigid backing. The ARC will accept them at a designated time at the beginning of the conference. Conference staff will aid in affixing and removing the poster in the display area. An opportunity for conference attendees to meet the poster presenters will be formally scheduled during the conference.
Note: Students must submit name of faculty sponsor for presentations.

For more information, please contact the Adirondack Research Consortium at 518-564-2020 or by e-mail at info@adkresearch.org. The submission deadline is April 1, 2009. The ARC will make its final decisions by April 15, 2009 and notify all applicants shortly thereafter. Please be sure to submit early and include your e-mail contact information!

Please share this announcement with colleagues and friends!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks Coming in May!

SAVE THE DATE
The Adirondack Research Consortium's
16th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks
May 20-21, 2009
High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid, NY

“Community Sustainability ”

This far reaching program will explore the latest information and research on such topics as community development and infrastructure, forest management, trends in private land development, GIS collaborations, green farming, energy technologies, the impacts of climate change, and opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint.

As a forum for the exchange of information, the conference offers the opportunity to network with well known experts and colleagues from communities, businesses, local and state government, and education, and to establish new friendships and strategic connections.

Ongoing conference program information and details will be available on the ARC webpage at http://www.adkresearch.org/ or by contacting the ARC directly at:

E-mail: adkresearch.org
P.O. Box 96, Paul Smiths, NY 12970


Phone: Dan Fitts: 518-523-1814
Eileen Allen: 518-564-2020