As climate-related challenges unfold with increasing speed and impact, the Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) are hard at work delivering science to help our nation’s fish, wildlife, water, land and people adapt to the changing climate.
The U.S. Geological Survey is currently accepting applications for an ORISE Fellowship with the NW CASC! This fellowship will focus on synthesizing research results from NW CASC-funded projects from 2017 through present and creating a series of “state of science” reports on topics identified in the NW CASC Science Agenda for 2018-2023. This is a one-year, full-time position based in Corvallis, Oregon, with a possibility of telework and a possible extension for two additional years. Master’s or doctoral degree required. Application deadline is January 31, 2022.
The Climate Adaptation Science Center network is preparing for several positions to come available in the next year, focused on the impacts of climate variability and change on ecosystems, natural resources, cultural resources, infrastructure, tribal lands and waters, urban and rural settlements and economic development. The network is seeking contact information for scholars with experience and interest in these subjects, as well as in developing actionable science with stakeholders with demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The NW CASC is excited to welcome our 2020-2021 Research Fellows as they kick off their Fellowship activities this fall. These 13 Fellows represent each of our consortium universities across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Throughout the Fellowship year, each Fellow will conduct research in close collaboration with regional natural resource managers and decision-makers to produce relevant science on climate change impacts and adaptation actions, while receiving training in the principles of actionable science. Through their innovative research, which includes investigating how receding glaciers are affecting fish habitat, exploring how local knowledge of rangelands can inform flexible management, and identifying forest management actions that enhance habitat and biodiversity while buffering climate impacts, these Fellows will help advance the mission of the NW CASC in delivering science to help fish, wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate.
This was originally published on the NWCASC news webpage.
“The insurance buying public wants to know that insurance is going to be available and affordable to them when they need it.”
That was the take-home message from Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who hosted a half-day virtual summit on climate change on Wednesday.
“We expect to see the area burned by wildfires in Washington quadruple by the 2040s.” – Amy Snover
The Climate Summit 2020 featured a host of experts talking about climate change, its impact on the Pacific Northwest, and the globe, as well as steps being taken to mitigate the impacts of a warming world.
Kreidler has in the past pushed the insurance industry to do more to address climate change, including calling for greater insurer disclosure on climate risk. He founded the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Climate Risk and Resilience Working Group in 2007 and has been the chair since its inception.
He said he worries about insurance consumers, and that as large wildfires continue to become the norm, and flooding becomes more frequent, the insurance industry may look at withdrawing from risker areas.
“At that point, you become very vulnerable,” Kreidler said.
Other presenters at the conference included Kara Hurst, head of worldwide sustainability for Amazon.
Hurst discussed the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative, which is intended to accelerate sustainability research in partnership with organizations like NOAA, NASA and the U.K. Met Office.
She said Amazon’s goal is to reach zero carbon emissions in the next few years. As part of that goal, the company has launched 90 solar and wind projects globally, and is on a path to do more each year.
“We’re going to reach 100% renewable by 2025,” Hurst said.
Michelle Lancaster, director of sustainability for Microsoft Corp., said the software giant is working on addressing four areas: carbon, water, waste and the ecosystem.
The company plans to operate “carbon negative” by 2030.
“That’s a big target,” she said. “Somewhere on the order of 16 million metric tons of carbon that we have to reduce or replace by 2030.”
Another Microsoft goal is to be “water positive,” replenishing more water than used, by 2030, and be zero waste by 2030, she added.
She also talked about the company’s “planetary computer,” also being called AI for Earth, to help the world become more sustainable.
“We think that’s really the tip of the spear of what Microsoft can do in this marketplace,” Lancaster said.
Dr. Amy Snover, director of the Climate Impacts Group and Northwest Climate Adaption Science Center at the University of Washington, said temperatures in the Northwest have been increasing since 1800s, the snowpack is declining, glaciers are shrinking, the timing of stream flow is changing in rivers, sea level rise is affecting Washington’s coast, and coastal waters are warming and acidifying.
“We’re also seeing a large number of fires and area burned has increased in the Northwest in the last couple of years,” she said, noting that dryer fuel is leading to worse wildfires because of human-caused warming. “We expect to see the area burned by wildfires in Washington quadruple by the 2040s.”
What’s worse, she added, is “we’re headed for significant change.” She also said models suggest increased flooding should be expected inland.
Projections show that the river flows in Puget Sound’s 12 largest rivers are expected to rise between 18% to 55% by the 2080s.
Other summit speakers included Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians, Francis Bouchard, Group Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability for Zurich Insurance, Sherri Goodman, with the Polar Institute and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer.
The COVID-19 pandemic, catastrophic on many levels, has starkly exposed the structural, social, economic and political factors that prevent equitable health outcomes for people around the world.
While communities everywhere grapple with the devastating losses of life, livelihoods and connection, another catastrophe is well underway. Climate change continues to devastate the health and well-being of people all over the planet.
To commemorate the opening of the UW’s new Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, we asked five of the University’s leading voices on climate change and decarbonization to discuss how we can move forward from the pandemic in ways that deliver environmental resilience and positive health outcomes for all.
Accelerating our global response to a worsening crisis
As pandemic stay-at-home orders went into effect around the world, we saw headlines celebrating clean air and drops in global greenhouse gas emissions. These changes seemed a thin silver lining during a dark time.
But they were only temporary improvements, not actual success in addressing the root cause of climate change: the centrality of fossil fuels in the global economy. In fact, many responses to the pandemic have slowed our responses to climate change. The next international conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was postponed, and essential funding to tackle climate risks in California and Washington is at risk.
Unfortunately, climate change is not on hold; it continues to accelerate. The year 2020 is on track to be the second warmest year on record. Climate change–fueled wildfires, hurricanes and heat waves affect much of the country, the Greenland ice sheet is reportedly melting past the point of no return, and until we eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions (not just release them more slowly), it will only get worse.
The current global unraveling has shown how we, and the systems we depend on, are all connected. Weaknesses in our health-care system, in social and economic justice and in the stability of our climate make life more precarious for us all.
Rebuilding our collective lives post-pandemic requires attending to all of the intertwined systems that we depend on. Responses to COVID-19 must incorporate solutions for climate change and racial justice. Recovery investments must accelerate decarbonization, not pause it — and advance preparation for rising climate stresses, not punt on it. In a world of compound risks, we must insist on compound solutions. We don’t have enough time, money or planet to do it any other way.
This article originally appeared on the Population Health news page. Read the all five essays here.
This article was originally published by NW CASC.
There is growing concern that changing climate conditions will amplify the negative impacts of non-native invasive species and facilitate their expansion. Despite the potential ecological and economic impacts of invasive species expansions in the Northwest, there has been no comprehensive synthesis on climate change effects on invasive species – until now. NW CASC-funded researchers Jennifer Gervais (Oregon Wildlife Institute), Clint Muhlfeld (U.S. Geological Survey) and colleagues conducted an extensive literature analysis to determine the current state of knowledge about climate change effects on non-native invasive species in the Northwest.
This analysis focused on studies describing how climate change has already influenced, or is projected to influence, the demography, range, spread or impact of almost 400 non-native invasive species. These include both terrestrial and aquatic species that have either been documented in the Northwest or whose future invasion of the Northwest is considered inevitable.
Findings: This study highlights how little we know about how climate change has or will affect aquatic and terrestrial species in the Northwest, especially at the fine geographic scales needed to manage them. The few retrospective studies describing connections between climate change and terrestrial non-native invasive species were consistent in suggesting that environmental changes associated with climate change have already contributed to the expansion of non-native mammals, insects and plants. In aquatic environments, researchers have similarly demonstrated relationships between conditions associated with climate change and the expansion of non-native fish species (check out related NW CASC-funded research on the hybridization between introduced rainbow trout and native westslope cutthroat trout).
Compared to the number of retrospective studies, there were more studies projecting future dynamics of non-native invasive species relevant to Northwest ecosystems, the majority of which focused on plant taxa. Regardless, both the retrospective and forward-looking studies suggest that while climate change may often benefit aquatic non-native invasive species, it will have more complex and context-specific effects on terrestrial non-native species.
This literature review highlights our limited understanding and ability to predict how non-native invasive species in the Northwest will respond to climate change. Although our understanding of how climate change may interact with non-native invasive species is notably lacking, some evidence suggests that climate-induced non-native invasive species expansions are already underway in the Northwest, particularly in aquatic ecosystems, and will be exacerbated by future changes in temperature and precipitation regimes. Since existing studies suggest that invasives will have varying impacts on native species depending on context, this study also highlights the need for research at the regional and local scale where management actions are taken.
Authors Jennifer Gervais and Clint Muhlfeld urge collaboration among managers, biologists and researchers to develop “a more coordinated and integrated research and monitoring approach,” which will be critical for understanding the environmental conditions that facilitate the spread of invasive species, as well as which habitats and native species might be most vulnerable to their future spread in the Northwest. This understanding can help inform climate adaptation strategies aimed at reducing the impacts of non-native invasive species on Northwest aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
The Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (NW CASC) invites proposals for its 2020-2021 Research Fellowship Program from graduate students at University of Washington (UW), Boise State University (BSU), Oregon State University (OSU), University of Montana (UM), Washington State University (WSU) and Western Washington University (WWU) and postdoctoral scholars at BSU, OSU, UM, WSU and WWU (this Fellowship cannot support postdocs at UW).
The NW CASC Fellowship program supports research related to climate adaptation for Northwest natural and cultural resource management and provides training in the principles and practices of co-producing decision-relevant science. Funding will be available as early as Fall Term 2020, to support research performed during the 2020-2021 academic year. The deadline to submit proposals is March 16, 2020.