Categorizing winter storms
Predicting the impact of a winter storm
in the eastern and central United States can be treacherous. How quickly
it strengthens, where it goes and how fast it travels can mean the
difference between shoveling a few inches of snow and being stuck in the
Greg Zielinski, Maine state climatologist and an associate research
professor in the University of Maine Institute for Quaternary and
Climate Studies, has developed a way to help weather forecasters and the
public understand the likely effects of winter storms. He has
categorized their severity on a scale of 1–5, with 5 being most intense.
Zielinski applies the classification to two types of storms: nor'easters
that often intensify in the mid-Atlantic region and move up the coast
into New England; and intense storms sometimes called the Witches of
November that originate east of the Rocky Mountains and move through the
Great Lakes region or up the Ohio River Valley.
"We have classification schemes for tornadoes and hurricanes," says
Zielinski. "Why not for winter storms? With my classifications, the
potential impact of a storm can then be passed on to public service
officials so they can make plans for precipitation amounts, particularly
snow, snowfall rates, wind speeds, drifting potential and overall impact
on schools, businesses, travelers and coastal communities."
Zielinski's approach uses two features of a storm. He calculates
characteristics of air pressure, which reflects storm strength, and
forward speed, because even moderately intense storms can have a large
impact if they move slowly. For example, a 1969 storm that stalled above
Cape Cod for two days dumped more than 8 feet of snow on top of Mt.
Washington in New Hampshire. Conversely, the cumulative impact of strong
storms may lessen if they move through an area quickly. That was the
case in New England with the March 1993 "Storm of the Century."
Zielinski is using his scale in a historical investigation of New
England's climate. He has classified more than 70 storms of the past,
including the Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899, the Blizzard of 1888 and
other storms that are part of U.S. weather lore.
A December 2000 storm was the most intense found in his study.
Zielinski hopes to compare storms and look for patterns in the more than
100 years of scientific weather records.
Solving procurement problems
Rapid turnover in computers and other high-tech equipment gives
retailers a headache. What is hot one day can be out of date the next.
Keeping track of product updates and availability, not to mention price
changes, can have technology sellers reaching for the aspirin.
Now comes a cure in the form of software developed by University of
Maine students working with Doug Marchio, manager of the Computer
Connection, UMaine's campus computer store. Known as the Buyers and
Sales Assistant, or BSA, the new system has proven so successful that
universities nationwide are using it to manage their technology
"The computer industry is the hardest industry for sourcing products,"
says Marchio. "For example, prices for memory sometimes change multiple
times a day. It's a monster, and we've developed a monster tamer."
Through a contract with the Campus Computer Resellers Alliance, a higher
education non-profit organization of more than 600 colleges and
universities, Marchio has seen a "lite" version of BSA solve technology
procurement problems for some of the country's largest universities,
including Stanford, the University of Illinois and the University of
Other large universities are establishing separate contracts for full
The approach was developed by Benjamin Scott, a 2000 UMaine computer
science graduate, in conjunction with Marchio. It starts by importing
computer supplier databases on a nightly basis (up-to-the-minute or
real-time are optional). The system retrieves, sorts and filters data to
produce its own searchable database. That information is then placed on
a Web site and tailored to specific groups of users.
Suppliers benefit, says Marchio, by having product information and
vendor advantages in the BSA database. Campus retailers save customers
time and money by finding the best available deals on everything from
high-end PCs to printer ink cartridges. End-user consumers will soon be
able to shop for themselves at an eStore Web page that uses the BSA
Scott, who developed the original computer code for BSA as a student,
continues to work on the system from his home in Portland, Maine, with
support from UMaine's Department of Industrial Cooperation. Scott says
he would like to see the system applied to purchasing in other
Sensors in schools
Students at Bangor High School are studying some of the hottest topics
in engineering as a result of a new program initiated by the University
of Maine College of Engineering with support from a $1.65 million
National Science Foundation grant.
In the program called GK-12: Sensors, 10 graduate and five undergraduate
students are working with the high school students in their classrooms
for a minimum of 10 hours a week. Their focus is on sensor technologies,
which have applications in fields from public health and pollution
control to national defense.
In addition, high school teachers spend time in UMaine laboratories
learning about sensor technologies and developing new curricula with the
help of faculty members from UMaine's multiple engineering disciplines:
electrical and computer, spatial information science, mechanical,
biological and chemical, and civil and environmental. The faculty are
affiliated with cutting-edge research facilities at UMaine, including
the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, the
Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LASST), and the Advanced
Engineered Wood Composites Center.
John Vetelino, a professor in the UMaine Department of Electrical and
Computer Engineering and LASST, created the project with Steve Godsoe,
chair of the Bangor High School Department of Mathematics.
Other community partners include the Maine Discovery Museum and the
Maine Challenger Project. Technology-based companies from throughout the
state also participate by offering tours for students and sending
personnel to the high school to make career presentations.
Gardening by calendar
Need advice on planting vegetables, selecting roses or protecting the
garden from deer? The illustrated 2003 North County Garden Calendar from
Cooperative Extension offers tips on these and other topics for every
day of the year.
Published by Extension offices at the University of Maine, University of
Vermont and University of New Hampshire, the calendar also provides
information about how to find Extension publications on gardening topics
by phone or via the Internet.
The calendars are available from Extension offices in each of the three
Fish River finds
An archaeological research team from the University of Maine has
identified four new sites in the Fish River drainage of northern Maine
that could shed light on how people in that region lived during the
Archaic and Ceramic periods (7000 B.C.–A.D. 1500).
Adrian Burke, an assistant professor of anthropology and Quaternary
studies, four UMaine students and a student from Acadia University in
Nova Scotia conducted an archaeological survey of the area last summer.
The scientists found stone tools and by-products of their manufacture,
demonstrating that there were far-reaching trade networks among people
in what is now northern Maine, Quebec and New Brunswick.
"This part of the state has been virtually unexplored archaeologically,
so this research is beginning to fill in the gaps about that time
period. Our initial findings indicate that this region was not on the
periphery of communication and trade; rather, it was connected to a much
larger regional network," Burke says.
Next summer, Burke will return to the area with more students to set up
a field school to excavate one or more of the sites.
The Fish River drainage is located in the upper St. John Valley, where
large lakes empty via the Fish River into the St. John River at Fort
Kent, Maine. The region remains part of the territory of the Maliseet
and Micmac Indian Nations of Maine, Quebec and New Brunswick.
In the field for up to 10 hours a day for a month, the researchers
covered about 200 square miles by canoe, motor boat and foot. They
identified the search areas using topographic maps and aerial
photographs, and by looking at the patterns of site distribution in
Awareness and action to fight
One of three federal grants to develop a National Osteoporosis Awareness
and Prevention Action Plan has been awarded to the University of Maine
Center on Aging, in conjunction with the Maine Center for Osteoporosis
Research and Education in Bangor, Maine.
The other recipients of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
grants are the National Osteoporosis Foundation in Washington, D.C., and
the Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education, located in
In Maine, Lenard Kaye of the UMaine School of Social Work and Dr.
Clifford Rosen, director of the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research
and Education, are co-principal investigators on the one-year, $138,000
Osteoporosis affects approximately 10 million people in the United
States, mostly women. In 2001, the National Institutes of Health
estimated the costs related to the disease, manifested by the loss of
bone mass, at $47 million per day. Kaye and Rosen will lead an effort to
develop a strategy and plan that will raise knowledge about osteoporosis
and its prevention.
"By bringing together the best minds on aging and osteoporosis, and
talking with diverse groups of older women throughout the United States,
this project is intent on not just educating the public about the risk
of osteoporosis, but actually bringing about reductions in risk-taking
behavior," Kaye says. "If successful, such a campaign will ultimately
reduce the frequency of diagnoses of osteoporosis in the older female
"Central to our efforts will be our ‘whole person' philosophy of
osteoporosis education that emphasizes the importance of open
communication between women and their healthcare providers, personal
empowerment and responsibility, and education that targets underserved
older women in those regions of the nation where health information is
most scarce," he says.
Alumni abroad advising Maine
The potential to build relationships among people with connections to
Maine, no matter where they are in the world, is the focus of Maine
International Networking Service, or MINS.
In a global marketplace, state businesses and government agencies are
increasingly looking to foreign markets for economic opportunities.
Whether searching for new customers, business partners or trade
relationships, they need to know where to go and whom to contact.
Developed with two years of support from UMaine's Department of
Industrial Cooperation, MINS is linking businesses and government
leaders with Maine college and university alumni who now live in
countries from Canada and Mexico to Europe, Africa and Asia. The system
has already connected Maine companies with correspondents in 14
In its first year, the MINS database contains 330 alumni of UMaine,
Maine Maritime Academy, Husson College and Bowdoin College.
Former U.S. diplomat Bob Sargent of Downeast International Consultants
in Sargentville, Maine, manages MINS.
The network will be most useful in the early stages of project
development, says Richard Coyle, director of the Maine International
Trade Center in Augusta, Maine. "Normally it's a roll of the dice when
you contact business or government officials in other countries," he
says. "MINS gives us an advantage" — contacts who have ties to Maine.
Writing in Français
For Susan Pinette, the way something is said says something about a
culture. Pinette, the director of Franco American Studies at the
University of Maine, is conducting research about the way early modern
French writers who traveled in North America and those who remained in
France depicted French Canada.
In her research, Pinette is focusing on how early modern French writers
used literary techniques such as dialogue and autobiography. Her goal is
to analyze how they contributed to a distinctly French perspective on
ethnography and science.
By investigating the role of North American French language and culture
within a broader historical, cultural and literary context, Pinette's
research is helping to establish the significance of North American
Francophone communities within academic French studies.
A high-tech music box
The state's largest library will use the latest technology to bring an
interactive multimedia digital music library to teachers and students
with the help of a $344,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum
and Library Services (IMLS).
The University of Maine's Fogler Library, in partnership with the
Bagaduce Music Lending Library and the Bangor Public Library, will
create "The Maine Music Box." In this two-year project, the libraries
will design a digital library of musical scores with associated sound
renditions, cover art and lyrics. With this instructional tool, users
will be able to view, play and print scores, and manipulate music by
changing the key or instrument.
Throughout the country, educators are grappling with ways to meet
state-mandated education standards. The Maine Music Box will help
teachers and students achieve Maine Learning Results with online
strategies tailored to specific requirements for all levels in the
visual and performing arts, and social studies.
"This project provides a model for libraries that are endeavoring to
find new ways to share their resources and redefine the use of their
collections and services in this digital era," says Elaine Albright,
dean of Cultural Affairs and Libraries at UMaine. "The project will
demonstrate how collections can be enriched with the tools of
information technologies, and connected to local communities to support
and advance the broad education mission of libraries."
Fogler Library staff will collaborate with outreach coordinators from
the Maine Center for the Arts. Together, they will direct and implement
the project to support access to the partner library music collections
and to deliver the instructional tool for educators.
Fogler Library's IMLS grant proposal was one of 12 funded out of 35
IMLS is a federal grant-making agency located in Washington, D.C., that
fosters leadership, innovation and a lifetime of learning by supporting
museums and libraries.