Northeastern alpine ecosystems are now but isolated biological ‘islands in the sky,’ having survived a myriad of challenges since the last glaciers retreated. While climate change often takes center stage today as the premier threat above treeline, such may not be the case. Dr. Ken Kimball, Director of Research for the Appalachian Mountain Club, is the principal investigator of a three-year NOAA-funded research project to better understand the impacts of climate change and air pollution on our region’s alpine ecosystems.JoinTinMountainon Thursday, December 8, from noon-1pm to learn more.

Dr. Ken Kimball is the research director for the Appalachian Mountain Club.  His academic training includes a BS fromCornellUniversity, a MS from theUniversityofMassachusettsand a PhD from theUniversityofNew Hampshire. Before joining the AMC staff in 1983, Ken worked as an environmental consultant, a research scientist at Cornell, and as a research scientist inIranfor the Smithsonian Institute-Peace Corps Environmental Program, a low point in his career where he was working on theCaspian Seaat minus 89 feet below sea level. Ken has explored numerous ecosystems around the world fromNepaltoAfricatoCentral America. In addition to alpine ecosystems, Ken’s portfolio at AMC includes overseeing terrestrial and river ecosystem protection and wind power siting initiatives in the northeast.

Ken will be discussing recent results from AMC’s ongoing research onMount Washingtonthat includes research co-partners the Mount Washington Observatory andPlymouthStateUniversity. In a twist of irony, it turns out that the factors that make the regions higher ecosystems much less susceptible to climate change are some of the same ones that expose them to much higher levels of air pollution and industrial scale development of wind power on the region’s mountains. The presentation will provide some intriguing insight to questions like … how did these ecosystems survive a major warming period several thousand years ago? Why are the region’s alpine ecosystems some of the lowest in the world at this latitude? Why is the air safer to breath at the mountain base compared to the summit?  And are we running an unintended fertilizing experiment that possibly could alter where the treeline of tomorrow might be?   

The Eco-Forum lunchtime lecture series is sponsored by The Flatbread Company ofNorth Conway, the Rock House Mountain Baker, and Frontside Grind Coffee and Espresso. It is presented atnoonon the second Thursday of each month at theTinMountainNatureLearningCenterinAlbany. The public is urged to attend to learn more about salient issues facing our natural environment and to hear the views of thought-provoking speakers.