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  • Fall Temperatures at Acadia

    In the Northern Hemisphere, fall occurs between the Autumnal Equinox (September 21st-24th) and the Winter Solstice (December 21st or 22nd). The thermometers illustrated here show the average daily temperature at Acadia National Park for the months September, October, and November of 1995. Observe the downward trend in daily temperature over the season.

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    Showing the data in this way suggests a steadily decreasing average daily temperature.

    Do you think this is where the story ends?

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    In reality, the average daily temperature varies widely throughout the season. Explore the data by mousing over the temperature line.

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    In addition, the daily temperature patterns vary widely from year to year. This variation makes it a challenge to compare year-to-year temperature trends.

    How would you compare the temperatures between two years?

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    One way to compare temperatures between years is to use the average daily temperature across these months. In this case, the average daily temperature for the fall of 1995 was 41.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

    How do you think the average fall temperatures at Acadia change from year to year?

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    At first glance, the yearly average fall temperatures look similar.

    Do you agree?

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    When viewed in more detail, the average fall temperatures appear to be increasing year to year.

    Could this be due to climate change? If the warming trend is true and continues, what impacts might it have on the plant and animal life at Acadia?

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  • Fall Foliage at Acadia

    During fall, leaves gradually turn from green to brown and then detach from the tree. The formal name for this process is "leaf senescence". Informally, it is also referred to as "brown-down".

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    In a forest, trees go through the brown-down process at different rates. Some trees stay green and retain their leaves longer than others. Other trees turn brown and lose their leaves sooner. This variability makes it difficult to measure where a forest area is in the brown-down process.

    How would you measure a forest’s brown-down process?

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    One method is to use the day on which a forest's leaves are collectively turning brown at the fastest rate. This is known as peak brown-down and can be determined indirectly from satellite images or directly from citizen science programs. Peak brown-down enables scientists to compare the brown-down process between regions and years.

    Do you expect peak brown-down at Acadia to happen at the same time each year?

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    Comparing when peak brown-down in Acadia and the surrounding area occurs from year to year suggests that the event is occurring earlier. Scientists worry that even a small change in peak brown-down timing could have a substantial impact on the environment.

    More data collection and analysis is needed to determine if brown-down is indeed happening earlier and the phenological impacts it might be making.

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  • Raptor Migration at Acadia

    Each year, various bird species migrate through the Acadia National Park area. But the birds do not all migrate at the same time.

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    Neither do the birds migrate at a constant rate during the fall season.

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    We focused on raptors, birds of prey, migrating through Acadia in the fall for this graph. The number of raptors initially starts with a few each day, grows to a maximum rate, and then decreases as the fall season ends.

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    If a daily count is kept of the raptors that have migrated through Acadia since the start of fall, the result would be similar to the graph illustrated here.

    After the season ends, the final count can be used to convert the daily count into a daily percentage of the raptors that migrated during the season. Expressing the data in this way makes it easier to compare between years.

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    The shape of the daily migration percentage curve can vary substantially between years.

    How would you compare these migration patterns between years?

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    One method is to identify the migration “midpoint”, the day on which 50% of all the raptors that will migrate have already passed through Acadia.

    How do you think the migration mid-points compare between years?

    Can you think of other ways to summarize daily percent migration patterns to compare between years?

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    Plotting the raptor migration mid-points from 2004 to 2013 at Acadia National Park demonstrates the need for more data and analysis. It is unclear from these data if migration is happening earlier, later, or remains unchanged.

    What are your thoughts on the migration data?

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  • Explore the Relationships

    Now let's begin to combine data sets. Here we look for a relationship between the average fall temperature and peak brown-down date.

    Would you expect peak brown-down to be affected by temperature?

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    In this graph, we look for ties between average temperature and migration midpoint. While we do see the midpoint migration day is often the same, it’s hard to say there is a meaningful tie between temperature and migration based on this data.

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    When looking at one variable at a time, there isn’t a clear picture of when peak brown-down happened in relation to bird migration. This graph combines the data by plotting the days on which peak brown-down and migration midpoint occur during the same year. The data is again suggestive but inconclusive.

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    This graph combines the data in a different way by showing the number of days that peak brown-down occurs after the migration mid point from 2004 to 2013. While a strong trend is not seen yet, this is something scientists want to study more. Even a small change can have a substantial impact. You can help!

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  • We need your help

    This map of Maine shows eBird and Acadia HawkCount citizen scientist participation since 2010. The brighter colors represent greater participation in those areas.

    Do you live in Maine? How does your area compare to the others? Help brighten your location by collecting data!

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    The image represents data collected in the Continental United States from eBird citizen scientist participants since 2010 . Brighter colors indicate areas with greater participation.

    How does your state compare with the others? Help brighten your state by participating in data collection! Click on the participate tab in the upper right-hand corner of the site to learn how.

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