Sept. 2020 Newsletter
Cooler temperatures, shorter days, and hints of oranges and reds dusting the treetops are ushering in the fall season in typical, quintessential New England fashion. Far from typical, however, was Maine's weather this summer. Here are just a few examples of our extreme weather:

  • Portland experienced its hottest summer on record, more than 3 degrees warmer than 'normal' and more than 1.5 decrees hotter than the previous hottest summer of 2018.
  • July was the hottest month ever documented in Portland since record keeping began in 1940.
  • Unusually dry conditions triggered drought across the state and in coastal York County.

These abnormal conditions provide a glimpse of what Maine's future weather patterns could be, highlighting the dire need to prepare for a changing climate and cascading effects now. Program staff have been working to assist our towns with just that, spending the summer organizing climate-focused workshops, actively engaging with the Maine Climate Council, and finalizing sustainability and resilience assessments for each town to serve as a road map for tackling climate change through priority municipal sustainability strategies and resilience actions.
Nuisance Flooding on the Rise in Southern Maine
A 15-Fold Increase in Frequency of High-Tide Flooding Events with One Foot of Sea Level Rise - Up to 85 Days in 2050
Our coastal towns will experience an increase in the number of high-tide flooding events, also known as sunny day flooding or nuisance flooding, in the coming years, and along with it, more frequent disturbances and impacts to critical infrastructure, coastal economies, and emergency services. A recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that high-tide flooding resulting from sea level rise is happening now across the US, including in Maine, and is increasing in frequency each year, with up to 13 days expected in 2020. The report assesses changes in high-tide flooding patterns, provides an outlook for the coming meteorological year, and identifies projections for the next several decades. Projections are based on the range of relative sea level rise, using the "Intermediate Low" and "Intermediate" scenarios identified in the Fourth National Climate Assessment.

Using data from the Portland tide gauge, the NOAA report shows that in 2018, the Portland area experienced 11 days of high-tide flooding – a whopping 120% increase from the 2000 average of five days. The study reveals that southern Maine should expect to experience significantly more high tide flooding events in the future and projects the number of high tide flood days in southern Maine to significantly increase over the next 30 years as sea level continues to rise. Additionally, the Maine Climate Council Scientific and Technical Subcommittee notes that a one-foot increase in sea level, which is likely to occur by 2050, will lead to a 15-fold increase in the frequency of nuisance flooding across the state. Further, a one-foot rise would increase the probability of a 100-year storm flood level occurring to once every ten years. For our coastal communities, that means more frequent flooding of low-lying roads, roadway closures, travel disruptions, public inconveniences, impacts to local businesses, seawater bubbling up from storm drains, and flooded yards and basements. Those impacts translate to interruptions in our daily life, intrusions to our coastal tourism economy, and increases in municipal financial and personnel resources required to deal with the effects. Fortunately, the regional focus on coastal resilience and ongoing efforts to assess and plan for future flooding mean that our towns are building the knowledge, capacity, and planning expertise to address intensifying flood hazards and protect property, lives, and livelihoods in our communities.
Summer Outreach and Engagement
Local Socially-Distanced Climate Council Forum
Climate Forum_Lydia Blume's
Covid-19 has certainly brought changes to the way we do outreach! We've had plenty of virtual presentations, Zoom meetings, and conference calls, but we particularly enjoyed this socially-distanced outdoor event hosted by Representative Lydia Blume, member of the Maine Climate Council (MCC), to discuss some of the Council's working groups' recommended strategies and what they might mean for coastal York County.

On September 3rd, municipal staff, interested community members, and current and prospective state representatives from coastal York County gathered at the home of Lydia Blume for an outdoor forum on the MCC. Regional Program staff, in collaboration with Representative Blume, Cassaundra Rose, Senior Science Analyst & Climate Council Coordinator with the Governor's Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and Ivy Frignoca, Casco BayKeeper of Friends of Casco Bay, shared an overview of the MCC process and recommended strategies from the MCC's Coastal and Marine and Community Resilience Working Groups. We heard great feedback on how these recommendations would affect coastal communities, with a focus on our six-town region. The need for improved climate-related data, technical assistance, and revise state rules and regulations to proactively address climate change.
We presented virtually too!
7/23 Ogunquit Sustainability Committee

8/26 New England Environmental Business Council Climate Change Summit

9/8 Kennebunk Select board

9/10 Kennebunkport Board of Selectman climate change presentation
On-road Transportation Emissions for York County
For Maine communities, one of the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions sectors is on-road transportation. However, it is often complex and confusing to estimate transportation-related emissions, due to difficulties in obtaining accurate and timely information, as well as the large number of methodologies available. To assist York County communities in estimating their on-road transportation emissions, we created a methodology that uses Streetlight Data vehicle miles travelled (VMT) to estimate on-road transportation GHG emissions for all towns and cities in York County.

On-road transportation GHG emissions estimates can help municipalities set emissions reduction targets and prioritize emission mitigation strategies. Because on-road transportation emissions are estimated for all York county communities, it is possible to compare emissions across communities and to identify regional emission patterns and potential mitigation strategies. This methodology uses up to date VMT data, and can easily be applied to different years, seasons, and types of day. This methodology can also be used to evaluate the emissions impacts of future infrastructure decisions, and to evaluate the impact of different mitigation strategies on GHG emissions.

Keep an eye out for our report: Evaluating Streetlight Data for Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions in York County, Maine
New Program Workshops: You're invited!
Are you interested in learning how your community can incorporate sustainability and resilience into transportation planning?

As a leader in sustainability and climate resiliency in Maine, SMPDC would like to invite you to join us for a discussion about our work with local communities, and hear an update from representatives from Maine DOT and the Maine Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) about proposed recommendations from the Maine Climate Council.

Join SMPDC, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Audubon and our other expert partners for a virtual, interactive session on the status of municipal solar in Maine.

Ask the experts your solar questions, and learn about solar opportunities for your municipality.

Registration details coming soon!
Funding Opportunities

  • Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands: Land & Water Conservation Fund (due May 28th, 2021; pre-application site inspection request due October 31st, 2020)

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