Old journals shed light on climate change

Read the full story at SFGate.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the hunting guide L.S. Quackenbush lived in a cabin in remote Oxbow, Maine. He rented cabins to hunters, cut, stacked and split wood and used his daily walks to keep detailed notes on the spring arrivals of songbirds and the first appearances of flowers and tree leaves.

His journals meticulously documenting the changing seasons grew and grew, eventually totaling more than 5,000 pages. Now they are filling gaps on how trees and migratory birds are responding to a changing climate in northern Maine, where historical data is sparse.

A new paper by the University of Maine’s Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie compares Quackenbush’s journals to recent observations, and suggests bird arrivals may be lagging behind the earlier leaf-out and flowering induced by a warming climate. Flora appears to be more directly responsive to local warming, while migratory bird schedules are more complex.

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