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What does the 2019 fire season look like for Washington? UW experts weigh in

Wildfire season is already upon us. In 2018, roughly 1700 fires occurred in Washington, burning 500,000 acres of forested land and immediately affecting thousands of people in rural communities. Wildfires have a larger, regional impact too – long term exposure to smoke can increase the risk of heart and lung disease, as well as increase sensitivity to asthma. So what’s in store for Washington this year as the 2019 wildfire season gets underway? 

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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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UW atmospheric scientists to study most extreme storms on Earth, up close

Two University of Washington atmospheric scientists—Angela Rowe and Lynn McMurdie—are leaving for a weeks-long, firsthand study of some of the fiercest storms on the planet. They will participate in RELAMPAGO, an international campaign in Argentina to monitor storms that occur east of the Andes near the slopes of another mountain range, the Sierra de Córdoba. The international team hopes to better understand how convective storm systems — the big systems that unleash torrential rains, hail and lightning — initiate and grow as they travel from the mountainous terrain eastward over the plains. 

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