One evening while having dinner on our deck, I happened to look up over the roof of the house at the maple, and noticed all the leaves had fallen from the middle of its crown, while all the rest of the leaves are still green. We called our tree guy, whose verdict after inspection was -- climate change.
I've heard for a long time that one of the expected impacts of climate change in New England is that the maple sugar industry will be decimated as the sunny days and cold nights of late winter/early spring will no longer be predictable. I've heard that the trees will migrate north. I always had a picture in my mind of the trees pulling up their roots and marching north, but the way it really happens is that trees in the southern range will just die.
Once I started really looking at the tree, I noticed that it looks sickly overall, not just at the bare spot on top. The tree guy recommended a few hundred dollars worth of treatment, which will at best just delay its demise. Then I looked down the street and saw two more maples that seem to have the same bare-on-top problem as ours. (The photo at top is of our neighbor's tree, since I couldn't shoot our own tree from a good angle.)
Several studies point to Connecticut having a climate more like North Carolina's in the next several decades, and given that climate change is happening much faster than scientists predicted less than a decade ago, I fear we'll be at that warmer place even sooner. I sure as hell will miss my maple trees.