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.
Current and future climate risks, stemming from heat waves, floods and droughts pose challenges for all Washington communities. However, the degree to which communities are exposed to climate hazards is not uniform across the state. Similarly, the extent to which communities are vulnerable to or can cope with hazards varies across communities, and even among individuals. The Climate Impacts Group partnered with numerous organizations to produce a report aimed at supporting ongoing discussions at the local and state levels regarding the climate risks facing communities in Washington, with a special emphasis on risks faced by communities of color, indigenous peoples and communities with lower incomes.Read more
Many tribal nations are actively engaged in efforts to understand climate risks to their natural and cultural resources, and what they can do to prepare. The Climate Impacts Group and the Northwest Climate Science Adaptation Center work in partnership with tribal communities across the Northwest to support their efforts to respond and build resilience to climate-related threats.
This project will help increase tribal capacity for vulnerability assessments by providing guidance and data tailored to the needs of Northwest and Great Basin tribes.
Climate projections indicate an increase in flooding in many Pacific Northwest watersheds over the course of the 21stcentury, in response to an increasing proportion of mountain precipitation falling as rain instead of snow. Global climate models also project an increase in the intensity in the type of heavy rain events that cause most river-scale flood events. In this study, the Climate Impacts Group used new projections to model changes in future streamflow and evaluate potential changes in peak flows on rivers across King County, Washington.Read more
A warming climate in the coming century will have profound effects on fire frequency, extent and severity in the Northwest. Forest managers need information on likely changes in fire and forests in a warming climate to help guide management and sustain ecosystem services. To address this information need, researchers funded by the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center developed a state-of-science report on potential effects of changing climate on fire regimes in forests of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and western Montana.Read more
Researchers funded by the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center assessed spring-fed wetlands for hydrologic and ecological resilience to climatic water stress using freely available remote-sensing and climate data. The approach presented in this study could be combined with field-based assessments to help natural resource managers identify clusters of springs that are most likely to be resilient to climate change, to help support climate-aware conservation planning for wildlife and vegetation that depend on spring-fed wetlands.Read more
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
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.Read more