Crandall, Nelson join team analyzing impacts of winter weather whiplash

If you think Maine’s winter weather has been wilder lately you are likely right. Recent volatile shifts in winter weather are likely connected to rapid changes in arctic weather and sea ice cover.

To improve scientists’ and communities’ understanding of winter weather whiplash, and what it means for seasonally snow-covered landscapes like Maine, the National Science Foundation’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) is funding a new research working group on the subject.

Sarah Nelson, director of the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program and associate research professor in watershed biogeochemistry, and Mindy Crandall, assistant professor of forest landscape management and economics, represented UMaine at the kickoff meeting in Washington D.C. this month.

“It was exciting to be a part of such a diverse and thoughtful group of researchers, from biogeochemists to hydrologists to soil scientists. Working at the intersection of natural and social sciences is challenging, but the only way to really represent all the impacts that weather events have on both human and ecological communities,” Crandall said.

The collaborators, who came to the meeting from private and public institutions throughout North America, aim to identify winter weather whiplash indicators and analyze how landscapes and communities respond to these events. The group anticipates their findings will serve as a model for seasonally snow covered areas across the globe, and help decision-makers can better understand how past and future winter climate change will impact human and natural systems.

More information about “Winter Weather Whiplash: Developing Indices of Extreme Winter Weather Variability and Socio-Ecological Responses” is available on the SESYNC’s website.