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Good news for Casco Bay!

We have great news to share: we reached the $1.5 million goal for our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund for Technology, Monitoring, and Community Engagement!

We launched the Fund to be used over the next decade to establish and maintain three oceanographic Continuous Monitoring Stations to collect data on how the Bay is changing. Communicating those changing conditions to our community is paramount for advocating for policies and actions needed to adapt and address the impacts of climate change.

Already, the Fund is being put to use. Staff Scientist Mike Doan has just launched a brand new Continuous Monitoring Station in Cundys Harbor, Harpswell. The launch of a third station in Portland Harbor is imminent and will make a splash in the coming weeks. These two new stations join our existing station off Yarmouth in collecting data on how the Bay is changing, every hour of every day, all year long.

To mark this milestone, we wanted to share with you this short video documenting the launch of the Yarmouth and Harpswell stations.

Having three continuous monitoring stations is a game changer for us. Together, these stations will convey conditions found across the Bay, from east to west. This wealth of data will strengthen our science and advocacy to protect the health of the Bay for years to come.

While we reached our original fundraising goal, Friends like you can still donate to the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund. Additional support will allow us to continue to maintain and operate our stations beyond the next decade. If you are inspired by our work, you can donate to the Fund here.

Donate to the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund

 

Celebrate with us

Join us on Wednesday, June 16, from 5:30-6:15 p.m., for an online event to share data from all three of our Continuous Monitoring Stations and to celebrate the ways the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund will enhance our efforts to improve and protect the health of the Bay for years to come.

Staff Scientist Mike Doan will share and compare, for the first time, data from all three continuous monitoring stations. Register here.

Register Now

We hope you join us!

Celebrating Data From Our New Continuous Monitoring Stations — A Casco Bay Matters Event

We are hosting an online event to share data from all three of our Continuous Monitoring Stations and to celebrate the ways the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund will enhance our efforts to improve and protect the health of the Bay for years to come.

On Wednesday, June 16, from 5:30-6:15 p.m., Staff Scientist Mike Doan will share and compare, for the first time, data from all three continuous monitoring stations.

He will be joined by Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca to talk about how these new data sets are informing our work. Following a year of unprecedented challenge, we will take the time to commemorate our collective work to keep Casco Bay blue.

We hope you join us!

Register Now

An annual spring awakening in the Bay

Rising seas and storm surges in Casco Bay

We had an inspiring and informative conversation at our latest Casco Bay Matters event, Sea level, storms, and surges, oh my! How Maine’s coasts can be resilient to climate change. Marine Geologist Peter Slovinsky from Maine Geological Survey joined Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca to illuminate the latest science on rising seas, and how we can work together to make our coastline and waters resilient to climate change.

Here is a video of the event, for those of you who were unable to attend live or would like to rewatch. Attendees asked more questions than we had time to answer, so we also created a bonus video where we answered them, see below.

If you don’t have time to watch the full event, there are a few key moments you may want to check out. We’ve assembled these three clips into one playlist to make it easy to watch. The playlist is eight minutes long.

In the first clip, Peter shares how rising seas can dramatically increase the frequency and duration of “nuisance” flooding events in Portland and along the shores of Casco Bay. Thee, Peter discusses the historical trends of sea level rise in Portland, dating back to 1912. He points out that over the past 118 years, nearly 50% of the increase in sea level has occurred since 1990. Finally, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca shares how we can respond to rising seas through adaptable policy informed by science.

 

Your sea level rise questions answered!

Event attendees asked more questions than we had time to answer . . . until now.

Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman recently followed up with Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Marine Geologist Peter Slovinsky to answer questions we did have time to address during the event. Including:

  • Where can we get good local information about projected sea level rise in our community?
  • Can future governors disband Maine’s Climate Council?
  • What will it cost us if we don’t begin to adapt to coming changes?
  • What are some useful actions we can take to help address climate change and sea level rise?

We hope you enjoy this Casco Bay Matters bonus content!

In this bonus content video, Pete and Ivy mention a number of resources. Here are links to those resources:

We are beginning to see the effects of climate change here in Casco Bay. Anticipating and adapting to the impacts of rising seas and stronger storms will prove critical to protecting the health of our coastal waters. If you are on our email list, we will keep you informed on ways you can help make your voice heard on these issues as state and local decision makers continue to develop climate change policies. Joining our email list is also the best way to stay up to date about future events.

If you want to do more, you can always support our work by making a donation or volunteering.

January 2021 Water Reporter Post of the Month

Our intrepid Water Reporters help us keep an eye on Casco Bay year round. Many return again and again to a favorite spot along the Bay, reporting on changes they see.

This month, we applaud Sara Biron, Friends of Casco Bay’s Data, Development, and Design Associate, for capturing a series of photos at Spring Point Light during an extreme low tide event (when waters were expected to be more than 15 inches below normal).

“Our office is near Spring Point, so I’ve been taking daily walks by the lighthouse for years,” shares Sara. “This was the lowest tide I’ve ever seen here, so I had to take a photo of it. You could almost walk to the lighthouse on the sand.”

As she got closer to the lighthouse, she was surprised to see shoots of eelgrass growing out of the sand.

“We love that our Water Reporters keep an eye out for eelgrass,” explains Staff Scientist Mike Doan. “Eelgrass is considered a nursery of the sea, where young lobsters, winter flounder, cod, and other species can find a safe home. Eelgrass also improves water quality, reduces shoreline erosion, and removes nitrogen and carbon dioxide from seawater. It’s a crucial habitat here in Casco Bay. Eelgrass is a sub-tidal, submerged aquatic species and only rarely grows at the lower intertidal zone. In other words, it doesn’t usually grow in places that would be completely out of the water at low tide, so Sara’s photo is an uncommon sight.”

Sara works to keep our databases up-to-date, helps with our fundraising efforts, and designs our materials. And she likes using the Water Reporter app on her phone when she strolls along the Bay. “I’m a visual person,” she says. “I like contributing as a Water Reporter because it’s an easy way to capture changes I see around the Bay. I’m not a scientist, but it feels good knowing that taking a quick photo of what I’m seeing can be useful.”

Sara’s photos not only recorded an extremely low tide, but also will help us track this bed of eelgrass.

 

We’ve been noticing that tides are higher than predicted. . .

While we’re talking about tides, we want to share a follow-up to a previous Post of the Month. Volunteer Ann Wood took a photo of Falmouth Town Landing, remarking that the tide looked much higher than the predicted high of 11.01 feet. Looking back, the verified tide height was 12.11 feet that day, more than a foot higher than predicted.

You can find out why this may be happening by joining us online at noon tomorrow for Sea level, storms, and surges, oh my! How Maine’s coasts can be resilient to climate change.

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and special guest, Marine Geologist Peter Slovinsky from Maine Geological Survey, will provide an overview of how Casco Bay’s coast is changing and how we can make it more resilient to climate change. You must register to attend.

Looking back and looking ahead: leadership at Friends

September 21, 2021

Dear Friends, It has already been three weeks since we gathered with 200 Friends of the Bay to celebrate the career, contributions, and retirement of our longtime Executive Director, Cathy Ramdsell. Cathy’s send-off party, held outdoors at Portland Yacht Services’ boatyard, marked our first in-person event since the onset of… Read more

Leave No Trace on Casco Bay

September 9, 2021

Imagine stepping out of a boat onto a Casco Bay island. What would you hear and see? Perhaps the rhythm of crashing waves, wild roses rustling in the breeze, or a gull crying as it circles overhead. But would you ever imagine the sight of  food wrappers, derelict fishing gear,… Read more

Water Reporter Post of the Month: Linda Stimpson

September 7, 2021

Horseshoe crabs: ancient animals in Casco Bay Linda Stimpson has lived in Maine for much of her adult life, but it wasn’t until recently that she first spotted this prehistoric creature – with nine eyes and ten legs – scuttling along the shore of Casco Bay. In her Water Reporter… Read more

Water Reporter Post of the Month: Susan Woodman

August 4, 2021

Eyes on the intertidal: Willard Beach algal blooms After spending her career working and living in Augusta, Susan Woodman knew exactly where she wanted to be when she retired: near the water. As an avid sea kayaker, access to the coast where she could launch her kayak was a top… Read more

Strong storm delivers heavy runoff to Casco Bay

July 21, 2021

Water Reporter Alert: High Volumes of Stormwater Runoff We have received reports of high volumes of stormwater runoff entering Casco Bay, following yesterday’s thunderstorm and rain throughout the night. We look to you to help us track the impacts of strong storms on a changing Bay. If you have time today,… Read more

Water Reporter reveals eroding coast

July 7, 2021

We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but have you ever seen a photo that is worth 17 years? Rick Frantz achieves such a feat by relying on his graphic design skills to compose his Water Reporter post from May 5. Images of Diamond Cove Beach… Read more

Our top 10 moments of 2020

As this very odd year comes to a close, let’s celebrate the large and small ways our community helped us protect the health of Casco Bay in 2020. Here are our top ten for the year:

1.) On December 2, the Maine Climate Council released its four-year Climate Action Plan, “Maine Won’t Wait.” We are heartened that the plan sets a roadmap for achieving carbon neutrality in Maine by 2045 and includes important mitigation measures to help coastal communities adapt to looming changes.

2.) Our volunteer Water Reporters were chosen as CommUNITY Champions. More than 240 volunteers are helping us keep watch over the health of the Bay.

3.) Gulf of Maine Poet Gary Lawless wrote the poem, “For Casco Bay, For Us,” in honor of our 30th anniversary. You can read the poem here and hear Gary read it at our Celebrating Water event in July, hosted by Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell.

4.) The South Portland City Council passed a groundbreaking fertilizer ordinance to promote soil health and to protect Casco Bay from nitrogen pollution.

5.) In October, Staff Scientist Mike Doan and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca shared what they saw on the Bay this field season during What Casco Bay is Telling Us: A Casco Bay Matters Event.  Ivy also hosted a Casco Bay Matters event earlier this year about the Maine Climate Council.

6.) Knack Factory made this short documentary about our work in honor of our 30th anniversary. If you liked that film, watch this behind the scenes montage about how it was made!

7.) We were delighted that Royal River Conservation Trust selected Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell and Friends of Casco Bay as recipients of their Conservation Champion Award.

8.) On Facebook, this huge lion’s mane jellyfish and this beautiful rainbow were our two most shared images from this year.

9.) We launched the public phase of our $1.5 million Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund. We are now less than $15,000 from crossing the finish line! And we will soon be launching two more continuous monitoring stations, thanks to the Fund!

10.) While we couldn’t celebrate our 30th anniversary in person, we were honored to have these community partners reflect on our success over the past three decades. We also took a trip down memory lane by scrolling through this timeline of our biggest victories and milestones.

We look forward to keeping you updated in the New Year. Thank you for being a Friend of Casco Bay.

October and November 2020 Water Reporter Posts of the Month

Good news for Maine and for Casco Bay

We have exciting news! Maine’s Climate Action Plan “Maine Won’t Wait” was released on Tuesday. The plan is a four-year road map for the state to follow as we work to address the causes and impacts of climate change.

I serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, and Friends of Casco Bay spent hundreds of hours working on coastal-related aspects of the plan. Media reports have focused on the parts of the plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality in Maine by 2045. The plan also includes important mitigation measures to help our communities adapt to looming changes. We are impressed and pleased with the Mills’ administration’s commitment to addressing the causes and consequences of climate change. Here is a link to the plan:  https://www.maine.gov/future/sites/maine.gov.future/files/inline-files/MaineWontWait_December2020.pdf

Here are some highlights from the Climate Action Plan in relation to Casco Bay:

Establish a monitoring network and Coastal and Marine Information Exchange (pages 79-81 of the plan)
The information exchange will help municipal and regional officials make decisions based on the best available science and projections. For example, infrastructure should be built with an understanding of sea level rise projections. The information exchange model builds upon and likely will incorporate the voluntary Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) partnership that we helped establish and coordinate. MOCA will meet next week to discuss its role in helping the State achieve its climate action goals. The plan also seeks to establish a statewide monitoring network by 2024. We expect this network to build upon existing public-private monitoring networks, including our seasonal monitoring and Continuous Monitoring Stations. Others, including the Wells Reserve and the Department of Marine Resources, already are consulting with our Staff Scientist Mike Doan as they develop their ocean acidification monitoring stations.

Assess and protect our blue carbon stocks for carbon sequestration and to help our coast provide healthy habitat and climate resiliency (pages 78-79)
We are very excited by this goal. “Blue carbon stocks” include vital habitat including coastal salt marshes, seagrass beds, and seaweeds. These resources not only store carbon, but also are critical for a healthy Casco Bay. These environments provide nursery grounds and habitat; they also can absorb storm surges better than man-made structures.

Revise Maine’s coastal land use laws to consider climate change (page 87)
We look forward to working with the State to revise its stormwater laws and regulations and other land use laws in the coastal zone. Without these changes, we cannot prepare for and mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Foster nature-based solutions (page 87)
Protecting and restoring Maine’s valuable coastal resources are critically important to adapting to climate change. If we restore natural water flows with right-sized culverts, plan for marsh migration, restore and protect coastal wetlands and dunes, the benefits will be invaluable. We need to retain as much of our current coastal resources as possible and help our coastal environments and people adapt to climate change.

We appreciate Governor Mills’ leadership and commitment to the climate crisis, at a time when we are all coping with a second crisis—the pandemic.

We will continue our commitment at Friends of Casco Bay to reducing the causes of climate change and to addressing its consequences. We are about to expand our array of Continuous Monitoring Stations in the Bay, and we are elated at the timing of this effort. Data from these stations will deepen not only our understanding of what we will need to do to protect Casco Bay, but more broadly may be of benefit to all of coastal Maine. We look forward to working with the Department of Environmental Protection and others in helping Maine reshape coastal regulations. We expect to be very actively engaged in this effort.

We will keep you updated as we continue to work with state agencies, partner organizations, and community members to help implement the plan.

Warming Waters Are Hot Topic

As the purple line for 2020 shows, temperatures measured at our Continuous Monitoring Station in Yarmouth, Maine, are setting records. Our staff, board, and volunteers are using data from the station in conversations with community members and decision makers to explore what we need to do to address and adapt to changes that are happening.

 

Day after day, we watched temperature records being set. This year has been hotter than usual. Out of the first 243 days of this year, January through August, 2020,  132 days exhibited a daily average temperature higher than established for that day in any of the prior four years, 2016 – 2019.

“While warm water temperatures may have been great for swimming in the Bay,” says Staff Scientist Mike Doan, “there are significant downsides to warming water. Less oxygen, more invasive species, changes in the ocean food web, and the growth of nuisance and harmful algal blooms are all associated with warming temperatures.”

In addition to hourly data collected at the station, Friends of Casco Bay’s staff monitor another 22 sites around the Bay as part of our seasonal spot-checks. Those sites, too, have been extremely warm. Our offshore site in Broad Sound saw temperatures near 22°C [almost 72°F], and the upper New Meadows River had temperatures over 25°C [nearly 80°F].

Other researchers have noted similarly high temperatures offshore in the Gulf of Maine this year. In August, NOAA satellites measured an average sea surface temperature of 68.93°F, nearly reaching the record set in 2012.

These data are critical as we continue our advocacy work with the Maine Climate Council at the state level and Portland and South Portland’s One Climate Future initiative at the local level, to address and mitigate the impacts of looming changes.

“What we have been seeing this year reaffirms for me the urgency of our collective work to document change, address the root causes of climate change, and prepare for its consequences at community, regional, state, and national levels,” says Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca.

What Casco Bay is telling us

We had a lively and informative What Casco Bay is telling us: a Casco Bay Matters Event as more than 100 Friends joined us for the conversation. Here is a video of the event, for those of you who were not able to attend live or would like to relisten.

If you don’t have time to watch the entire event, here are some key moments that you may want to check out:

In this 3½ minute clip, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca shares her observations on what the Bay was like during this very strange year.

Staff Scientist Mike Doan shares temperature data from our Continuous Monitoring Station (2½ minutes).

Mike explains how we can get a sense of the productivity of the base of the food chain and offers his thoughts as to why our waters have been so clear this season (3 minutes).

Ivy thanks our volunteer Water Reporters for the many ways they have helped us keep watch on the health of the Bay (2½ minutes).

Ivy reflects on what we must do to confront the impacts of climate change on the Bay (2 ½ minutes).

Last but not least, Cathy, Ivy, and Mike explain how our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund is a game-changer for our work (4 minutes). [We are delighted that we have raised 94% of our $1.5 million goal for the Fund, with the help of many of you. If you have not yet made a contribution to the Fund, help us past the finish line!]