I live in New England and anecdotally people have been saying that the foliage season is shorter. Factually, however, maple sugarers are seeing less sap in the spring. Some have even sued because their businesses are being impacted by the government’s failure to regulate, as I wrote about here. Now, UNH is producing data showing that maples are indeed in decline. Interesting that the research is being quantified into tourist dollars, impacting state budgets - now that will get their attention!
Barrett Rock, a botanist and forestry professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Complex Systems Research Center in Durham, has been studying spectral satellite imagery of New England’s forests for decades, and said he’s seen a pattern of maple tree decline.
Maple trees are being affected by climate change…he said.
One way in which the changes he’s seeing via satellite imagery are beginning to manifest to the naked eye is that foliage seasons are more often becoming less spectacular, he said.
Global warming in New Hampshire also has meant warmer springs, a time that is typically the height of maple sugaring season, with March of 2010 being the warmest in recent memory.
The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development estimated some 7.7 million visitors came to the Granite State during foliage season this year and spent roughly $1.1 billion. According to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, some 90,000 gallons of maple syrup are produced annually, bringing more than $3 million to the state.