Tech tested on Cape Cod could track backyard septic-system pollution

Brian Baumgaertel, director of the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center, stands near a blue wastewater tank used to test nitrogen-monitoring sensors like the one contained in a metal box, at right foreground.

Nitrogen from septic systems has been disrupting local waterways for years, causing fish kills and blooms of toxic algae. Now, field testing on Cape Cod is playing a national role in the development of technology to monitor nitrogen — even in individual backyards — as a step toward keeping the excess out of our waters.…

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19th century New England whaling logs offer clues to 21st century climate change

The log book of the whaling vessel Marcella out of New Bedford at the Providence Public Library, which owns one of the five largest collections of whaling log books in the country.

  Tucked away in the New Bedford Whaling Museum is a room full of records. It holds manuscripts, manifests, banking records and crew accounts from New England’s storied whaling industry. It also contains the largest collection of whaling logbooks in the world. Logbooks were a legal record of each voyage, in which first mates documented…

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Federal appeals court reinstates lobster gear restrictions off Maine’s coast

A federal appeals court is reinstating restrictions on fishing gear in a nearly 1,000-square-mile swathe of ocean off Maine’s coast. It’s a blow to Maine’s lobstermen and a victory for advocates for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. In October, in an effort to protect the roughly 340 right whales remaining on the planet from…

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Researchers look to prepare coastal New England for future storms

New research on the combined threat of rising sea levels and extreme weather focuses on coastal areas in New England. By simulating hazards like flooding with computer models, the researchers say their findings could help prepare communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. “We’re particularly interested in looking at close to the…

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Salt marshes soak up carbon. Restoring them is key to fighting climate change

Marshes have been called the “kidneys of the landscape” because they clean pollutants from water. They also protect communities against storm surges and erosion, and are better than forests at capturing carbon, so are considered critical in the fight against climate change. But when they’re under stress, they degrade, and actually release carbon into the…

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Sea level rise is accelerating in Maine. In York County, hundreds of millions in property value is at risk

Maine's Wells Beach at low tide after a nor'easter in October 2021.

Sea level rise is accelerating along Maine’s coast. This year, record high water levels have been documented in Bar Harbor, Cutler and Wells. For coastal communities it means threats to buildings and infrastructure, the loss of beaches and intrusion of salt water into private wells. A modest 1.6 foot rise, which is expected by the year 2050, will…

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Portsmouth Naval Shipyard tends the nation’s submarines. That won’t protect it from rising tides

“Climate resilience” has become a phrase that describes the efforts of scientists, conservationists and government officials to respond to sea-level rise, intense storms, and increasing temperatures. The concept is getting the attention of military planners as well, and in Maine, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery is hardening its own historic facilities against higher tides,…

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