Dear Friends of the Cary Institute:
Snow shapes temperate ecosystems. Here in Millbrook, we can expect that soil microbes are well insulated by snow and busy decomposing fallen leaves and releasing nitrogen that will help plants grow in early spring. The microbes are happy. And the piles of snow that we’ve shoveled off our driveways and sidewalks will help recharge groundwater supplies.
The ecological effects of snow occupy the thoughts of several of our scientists, including Peter Groffman, who recently gave a public lecture at the Cary Institute entitled “Snow is Good.” Meanwhile, Rick Ostfeld is contemplating how the heavy winter snowpack will effect populations of white-footed mice, the dominant hosts for the ticks that will carry Lyme disease next summer.
As our climate warms, future snowpacks are likely to be smaller and shorter lived. We are studying the consequences of these changes. What will reduced snowfall mean for the animals that influence the spread of infectious disease? How will snow reductions impact the quality and quantity of freshwater resources? These are issues that should concern every citizen in New England.
Climate change and water will be among the topics discussed at a spring Science and Management Forum that the Cary Institute is hosting. The forum, which will focus on regional freshwater issues, will help inform effective stewardship by connecting decision makers and concerned citizens with current thinking about the state of our freshwater resources.
I hope that all of you have had a chance to take in one or more of our monthly public programs. In addition to Peter’s great talk, we heard from Simon Winchester in December and will be featuring upcoming lectures by NRDC president Frances Beinecke and environmentalist Bill McKibben; see our calendar for more details.
It’s been wonderful to see the Cary Institute expand its role as a resource for regional environmental programming. This is a role at which we excel, and society is better for our efforts. Our forums and lectures are made possible by unrestricted gifts from people like you.
Dr. William H. Schlesinger, President