Q&A: New Washington Sea Grant director brings love of learning, experience across sectors

Russell Callender, director of Washington Sea Grant effective September 2018.

Russell Callender spent nearly two decades working on coastal science, policy and management issues at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s headquarters near Washington, D.C. But throughout his tenure at the nation’s capital, he kept his eye on a position at an organization in the other Washington. When he saw the job posting last summer to lead Washington Sea Grant at the University of Washington, it took Callender all of about two minutes to start working on his application. 

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Washington’s state climatologist predicts this will be an El Niño year

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond

Nick Bond is a University of Washington associate professor of atmospheric sciences who studies the link between ocean and atmosphere. He also serves as the state climatologist for Washington. Early reports suggest that the winter of 2018/2019 will be a weak to moderate El Niño year. For the Pacific Northwest, that probably means less snow in the mountains than the average. 

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UW, Tableau create interactive tool to explore more than a century of Pacific Northwest weather observations

Lummi Island storm waves

UW College of the Environment and Seattle visual analytics company Tableau Software teamed up to create a new, interactive visualization for historical observations of temperature and precipitation in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana, and for Washington snowpack. The free online tool lets anybody interact with the records going back as far as 1881 and look for significant trends. “This tool lets anyone, from researchers to meteorologists to members of the public, look at the actual data to motivate why we should care about our climate changing, and see how it is changing in our own backyard,” said project lead Karin Bumbaco, the assistant state climatologist for Washington. 

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New resources support tribes in preparing for climate change

A tribal fire crew member in Oregon monitors a prescribed burn, a key tool for preventing large wildfires that are likely to become more common under climate change.

As the natural world responds to climate change, American Indian tribes across the country are grappling with how to plan for a future that balances inevitable change with protecting the resources vital to their cultural traditions. The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and regional tribal partners have developed a collection of resources that may be useful to tribes at any stage in the process of evaluating their vulnerability to climate change. 

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First tally of U.S.-Russia polar bears finds a healthy population

An adult female and cub in fall 2017 on Wrangel Island, where hundred of Chukchi Sea polar bears spend the summer months.

Not all polar bears are in the same dire situation due to retreating sea ice, at least not right now. Off the western coast of Alaska, the Chukchi Sea is rich in marine life, but the number of polar bears in the area had never been counted. The first formal study of this population suggests that it’s been healthy and relatively abundant in recent years, numbering about 3,000 animals. 

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