Acadia National Park
(Photo credit: Dana Moos / Flickr)

If you’ve ever taken a fall trip to Acadia National Park in Maine, a climate scientist wants to see your photos. Don’t worry, she won’t judge your outdated fashion. She just wants to see the trees behind you.

Stephanie Spera of the University of Richmond is studying how rising temperatures and changing rain patterns affect the timing of fall foliage in Acadia. She and her team have been analyzing satellite photos and scouring old newspapers and reports.

“And our preliminary research suggests that fall foliage has been occurring one day later a decade on average,” Spera says.

But she needs more historical data to confirm a trend.

“Because we don’t have satellite data that are consistent and robust before the year 2000, we’d love it if people would send in photos,” she says.

The snapshots that people submit by email can help her establish a longer timeline and verify other reports.

She says surveys show that many people visit Acadia to see the colorful fall foliage, so knowing how its timing is changing is important for park management and local tourism.

“If fall foliage, peak particularly, is occurring later and later and later in time, you can imagine that will change things for the way local businesses plan,” Spera says.

So your old snapshots could help this much-loved park and nearby communities adapt to climate change.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...