Your ‘basic’ fall leaf photos could serve as evidence of climate change

Untangling the relationship between climate, fall foliage and visitorship in Acadia National Park–the goal of Stephanie Spera's research–requires a variety of data, including meteorological observations, park visitor surveys, and knowledge of when fall foliage starts, peaks and ends every year.

As an environmental scientist, one of the primary ways she studied changes in vegetation phenology–that is, the timing of biological events like flowering, leaf out, or onset and duration of fall foliage–is through the use of satellite data.

But like all technology, the farther back in time you go, the lower the quality of the data. Even worse, there isn’t any reliable satellite data over Acadia National Park before the year 2000 at all.

Her team is asking for your help. We know those awkward family photos of you or your parents in their 1970s bell bottoms standing in front of Acadia's Jordan Pond exist. And we want them. If you have any old vacation photos taken in the park during the fall, scan them and send them our way.

Understanding the relationships between climate change, fall foliage and park visitorship have important 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. So leaf peep–for science.

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