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Studies Reveal New Details About Regional Climate Change



New scientific data shows that Massachusetts is home to many ecosystems resistant to climate change, while communities across the region this past spring have experienced record temperatures. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

According to new data acquired from the Climate Systems Research Center at UMass Amherst, mean temperatures across the state for the past few months are among the highest on record.

Manager at the Climate Systems Research Center Michael Rawlins explained that the low amount of snowfall, position of the jet stream this year, and climate trends have all contributed to warmer weather.

Rawlins explained that in years with more snowfall, it takes much more energy from the sun to first melt the snow, evaporate groundwater, and then heat up the ground. This year, things came easier.

In what’s referred to as the meteorological spring – the months of March, April, and May of each year – temperatures this year broke records in Boston going back to 1872 with a previous record broken in 2010 with a high temperature average of 53.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Worcester broke its 2010 record by .4 degrees Fahrenheit to a spring average of 51.3 degrees; Hartford tied its record also set in 2010 at 54.3 degrees. Amherst remained less than a full degree from its record setting average of 52.1 degrees set in 1991.

While average temperatures are rising across the region, a study by the Nature Conservancy has discovered areas across the Northeast that are more resilient to climate change. The Nature Conservancy studied areas from Maine and Southeastern Canada through Virginia.

Mark Anderson, Science Director for the Nature Conservancy’s Eastern US Division said that areas across a state such as Massachusetts, with varied ecosystem types – such as flat coastal areas versus forested ridges and valleys, can support more diverse plant and animal species. The so-called climate change “strongholds” exist in what he calls microclimates.

Massachusetts is home to a high number of strongholds, and they may help conservation efforts by pinpointing locations worth protecting, while temperatures continue to rise in the meantime.  Anderson continues…

In Massachusetts, the Quabbin Reservoir was found to be the most resilient landscape to climate change. Strongholds were also identified in the Mount Washington area in the Southern Berkshires, Cape Ann, the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve, and on Cape Cod.