5th National Climate Assessment authors include UW climate experts

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.

Three University of Washington experts are among the authors of the newly released Fifth National Climate Assessment, an overview of climate trends, impacts and efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change across the nation. The assessment is produced roughly every four years, led by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and mandated by Congress. The fifth edition, released Nov. 14, assesses current and future risks posed by climate change in 10 regions. 

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New report, tool suggest how Washington can better protect against extreme heat

UW Heat Report

In June 2021, the “heat dome” that struck the Pacific Northwest sent temperatures in Seattle to an unprecedented 107 degrees Fahrenheit and set 128 all-time high temperature records across the state. The event was partly due to climate change. As the climate continues to warm, these hotter stretches are projected to hit the region with increasing frequency. Two years after that event — the deadliest weather-related disaster in state history — a collaborative effort led by two University of Washington teams, the Climate Impacts Group and the Center for Health and the Global Environment, or CHanGE, has drawn up recommendations for how people and groups across the state could prevent future heat-related illness and save lives. 

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Q&A: County-scale climate mapping tool helps Washington agencies prepare for the future

Map model of a higher future greenhouse gas emissions scenario in Washington State.

Many people are now aware of climate change, the need to curb greenhouse gases and to prepare for coming environmental shifts. But knowing how best to prepare can be a challenge, both for individuals and for local agencies. The University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group has released an interactive tool that lets state agencies and local governments see what climate scientists project for their county and what they might want to consider when developing their districts’ comprehensive plans. 

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Sea Change

A diver next to the Seattle waterfront sea wall.

Seattle is reimagining and creating a living urban waterfront — building a healthy future for the city’s people, wildlife, culture and economy. The UW has been part of the project from the start. Seattle’s waterfront renewal is one of the region’s most ambitious and innovative undertakings since the Seattle World’s Fair transformed the city in 1962. Finally reconnecting Seattle’s waterfront to its downtown, this $750 million renovation and restoration will create a network of public parks, cultural celebration spaces and an expanded aquarium — while building a sophisticated, seismically sound, salmon-friendly new seawall. 

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UW, Seattle Public Library, Seattle Public Utilities collaboration uses VR goggles to visualize sea level rise in Seattle

The VR experience begins by explaining how gases like carbon dioxide create an invisible blanket around Earth, trapping solar radiation. The user can hold up a magnifying glass that makes Earth’s atmosphere appear blue. Later in the experience the narrator explains how glaciers in Antarctica, right, contribute to rising seas.

A new project uses virtual reality to help communicate what climate models are predicting: Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing Earth’s temperature, melting glaciers that could create many feet of global sea level rise by the end of this century. The Our Future Duwamish project, available to community groups through The Seattle Public Library, uses Oculus Quest 2 goggles to help viewers imagine rising seas from a vantage point along the South Seattle waterway. 

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