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Backward Seasons, Droughts, Maple Sugaring, and Other Indicators of Historic Climate Fluctuations

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“A summerish January, a winterish spring.” This quote by David Ludlum aptly describes the precursor to a backward spring, a season that is either late and/or with weather that is inappropriate for that time of year. Apart from the weather entries in pre-20th-century newspapers, another rich source of historical weather information comes from farmers’ diaries.

This presentation will highlight how climatologists use such records about phenology (e.g., budding, full bloom conditions) and agricultural patterns to reconstruct the local meteorological conditions and climate around Vermont and New Hampshire for the 1680–1900 period. Some of these backward seasons were accompanied by frosts and droughts that influenced sugar maple production. The presentation will also delve into how some persistent, severe droughts in the 1700s have not been repeated in the 20th or 21st centuries.

Annual Meeting Presentation

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