BAR HARBOR, ME – Your old vacation photographs of Acadia National Park in autumn could help scientists research changes in fall foliage. Fall in Acadia 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 2019 Second Century Stewardship fellow, 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 seeks submissions of unfiltered photographs of Mount Desert Island scenes from before the year 2000 to create a more complete data set. “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 said. “Historic photos of fall color will help us fill in the gaps.”
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,” said 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 said.