BDN interviews Birkel about droughts, record rainfall

The Bangor Daily News spoke with Sean Birkel, Maine’s state climatologist and a research assistant professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, for the article, “How Maine can be in a drought, even during record rainfall.” Birkel said drought conditions can spring up relatively quickly, whereas the trend of increasing precipitation is borne out by decades of weather data. The rain and snow that falls in Maine is not spread evenly throughout the state, he added, which can result in significant differences within Maine from one season to the next. Maine is getting greater amounts of torrential rain and snow from storms, which has contributed to the increase in annual statewide precipitation, Birkel said. As Maine gets more intense rainstorms, the saturated ground 05 cause more of the rain to be funneled into rivers and flow out to sea, rather than seeping more slowly into the water table underground, he said. As more rain falls in shorter time periods, it leaves longer gaps between rain events during which time topsoil can dry out and well levels can decrease, according to the article. The intensifying rainstorms “do not preclude seasonal drought” or even droughts that extend from one year into the next, Birkel said. “More of that [precipitation] is being delivered in bursts.” Maine Public also published the report.