Bigger and worse wildfires? UW fire experts weigh in

Firefighters respond to the Taylor Creek and Klondike fires in Oregon’s Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest in summer 2018.

2020 was a memorable year for wildfires. Images of burning forests appeared everywhere on social media and attention-grabbing headlines dominated news cycles all over the world. Heading into the 2021 fire season, two big questions loom in everyone’s minds, so we checked in with some fire experts at UW Environment to ask: Are fires getting worse over time? If so, what compounding factors are in place? 

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Case studies illustrate how water utilities may adapt to climate change

The ship canal

Changing climate has far-reaching impacts, and is testing parts of society’s ability to continue doing business-as-usual.  Among these are water utilities, the entities responsible for delivering clean, fresh water to our nation’s households and managing wastewater and stormwater. Climate change affects not only rainfall and annual precipitation patterns—which has implications on the availability of freshwater—but can also stress the infrastructure and systems used to treat, deliver and manage water resources. 

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Conservation planning for a wild and thriving Cascadia

Cascadia region

With ever-shrinking pristine habitats across the region and globe, wildlife is often hard-pressed to find a place to call home. Even if they find a suitable home today, the question remains if it will still be suitable tomorrow. With climate change already underway and increasing human presence in wild landscapes, land managers and conservation organizations continually wrestle with this issue here in the Pacific Northwest and across the world. 

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Beyond video games: virtual reality brings science to life

Virtual reality — commonly referred to as VR — is the stuff of video games, right? Don your VR headset, gloves and bodysuit and *whoosh*, you’re transported into an alternate landscape. VR makes the imagined world feel real. Truth be told, VR isn’t limited to just gamers. Numerous applications for the technology are in use, like in military, sports and educational settings, and many new applications are still emerging. 

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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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