MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Scientists want your photos to study fall foliage at Acadia National Park.
According to researchers at the Schoodic Institute, fall seems to be arriving later, as warm temperatures extend longer into September and October. But are the leaves changing color later, too?
Stephanie Spera, assistant professor of geography at University of Richmond and the second century stewardship fellow at the Schoodic Institute is using satellite data to study how the onset and duration of fall foliage has changed in Acadia National Park, and the relationship to climate factors like precipitation and temperature.
Spera is looking for unfiltered photographs of Mount Desert Island in the fall.
“We plan to use satellite data to help us map fall foliage over time, but like all technology, the farther back in time you go, the lower the quality of the data,” she says. “Historic photos of fall color will help us fill in the gaps.”
The satellite data Spera is using to conduct her research dates back to the year 2000.
She's looking for photographs that can support the images shown by the satellite, but more critically, she needs photos to show foliage trends before the year 2000.
"We've gotten a lot of photos from the last 10 years," Spera says. She's having a more difficult time finding earlier photos.
"We have about 10 photos from the 80s, but that's all we have from before the year 2000," says Spera.
"I understand it's a lot more work to actually scan a photo and send it in, but I hope people will do it for science and for the park we all love."
Spera is also establishing fixed photo stations at several locations within Acadia where volunteers can take pictures to help validate satellite data.
“The number of people visiting Acadia in the fall has more than doubled over the past 20 years,” says Spera.
“We want to understand how climate factors have affected fall foliage in Acadia and if changes in fall foliage have affected park visitor use patterns, which have implications for park management, the local economies of towns on and around Mount Desert Island, and those of us who love visiting Acadia in the fall,” she says.