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EarthLab seeks to partner with decision-makers and to create relevant science-based solutions to our most urgent environmental issues. Together, we identify and work on projects that can effectively create real and positive change. For collaborations that are just starting and may become projects in the future, EarthLab offers an Incubator Program to help nascent ideas realize their full potential.

These are just a short selection of ongoing and past projects — visit each of our Member Organization’s webpages for a more complete list and details.


Latino Connections with Nature

In partnership with Vive | NW EarthLab is studying how contact with nature improves cognitive, emotional and physical health, and exploring the specific barriers and facilitators that shape the ability of Latino communities to access nature and enjoy these benefits. Our results will provide educators, urban planners and environmental organizations with a detailed understanding of what they can do to support Latino communities’ positive connections with the natural world. 

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Mapping Recreational use with Social Media Data

Public land managers face a thorny problem: how to provide sufficient and equitable recreation opportunities based on tangible data about local visitors. In response, a team of scientists, practitioners and partners from the US Forest Service, US Park Service and Washington Trails Association has begun using social media as a source of data on park visitor quantity, distribution, behavior, and preference—information that has been notoriously difficult to collect with traditional methods. 

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Model Projections of Heavy Precipitation for use in Stormwater Planning

Dynamically downscaled climate projections are still relatively rare, especially at the scales needed to assess changes in heavy precipitation and changes in stormwater risk. The primary aim of this project by the Climate Impacts Group is to produce two new regional climate model simulations that can provide projections tailored to the needs of stormwater modeling and planning.
More about this project 

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Nature Contact and Human Health Working Group

The Nature and Health Working Group is a growing community of doctors, scientists, educators, landscape architects, recreation advocates and others interested in exploring how experiences in nature benefit human health and well-being. We are building a community of practice across disciplines and sectors, scoping and implementing a research agenda, developing a policy and action blueprint and defining and incubating fundable initiatives and research projects. 

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In collaboration with NatureCollections, we are developing a new mobile app that encourages elementary school children to go outside and explore the natural world. Kids love to collect things and NatureCollections Beta helps kids take pictures of nature, identify the species in their photos and share and curate their photos in categories such as plants, birds and landscapes. They can also complete in photo challenges or photo scavenger hunts. 

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Predictive Modeling for Corrosive Marine Waters

The marine waters of Washington state can often be corrosive to shelled animals such as clams and oysters, especially when they are very young. Corrosive conditions are driven by natural variability combined with an increase in the acidity of ocean waters. This threatens marine ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, and poses a significant barrier to shellfish growers and the sustainability of their business. 

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Progress by Washington State Agencies in Pursuing Adaptation

Washington state has identified climate change as a major challenge to its economic, social and environmental success. To take stock of state agencies’ efforts to prepare for climate impacts, the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group and School of Marine and Environmental Affairs reviewed publicly available online documents, administered an online survey, and convened focus group discussions involving over 60 agency staff. 

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Social Science for the Salish Sea

Ecosystem recovery depends on understanding the diverse people and social systems in the region.​ ​The “Social Science for the Salish Sea Incubator” is outlining a research agenda for environmental social science that serves the ecosystem recovery needs of the transboundary waters shared by Washington State and British Columbia. Co-authored by researchers and practitioners, the paper will include a literature review, annotated list of research questions, roadmap for implementing this research plan, and summary of best practice​s​ for studying the human dimensions of ecosystem recovery. 

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Story Map of Climate Change

This project is developing online interactive story maps designed to provide information about the consequences of climate change to scientists, resource managers, and stakeholders. The climate science is framed within stories about Northwest residents who are taking steps to mitigate or adapt to the consequences of climate change, specifically, sea level rise and drought. A goal is to build empathy and mutual understanding among stakeholder groups, and thus foster constructive negotiations, shared purpose, and long-term policy solutions. 

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Surge Exhibition Partnership: Imagining Climate Futures

Philip Govedare, UW Professor of Art and a member of our steering committee, is collaborating with Phil Levin, UW Professor of Practice and Lead Scientist with The Nature Conservancy Washington Office, to prepare a contribution to the third Surge exhibition, which will be held in the fall of 2018 at the Museum of Northwest Art in LaConner, Washington. Surge encourages artists and scientists to learn from each other and share diverse perspectives on how climate change is affecting communities in the Northwest.  

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