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Director’s Corner: Celebrating 25 Years of Building Climate Resilience

This year, the Climate Impacts Group marks 25 years of building climate resilience through rigorous science and innovative, cross-sector partnerships. We are excited to spend the academic year celebrating efforts across the Northwest to prepare for the effects of climate change. We invite our partners, fellow scientists, supporters of our work and members of the public to join us.

Over the next six months, we will host three virtual lectures related to climate resilience.

Our first event, scheduled for Thursday, December 3, features Climate Impacts Group scientists and partners in discussion about efforts across the state of Washington to prepare for rising sea levels and shifting ecosystems. 

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CIG Project Finalist for International Competition Honoring Science Breakthroughs

A project led by Dr. Heidi Roop, formerly the strategic communications lead at the Climate Impacts Group and now assistant professor of climate science at the University of Minnesota, is a finalist for Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year. The project combines data visualizations and virtual reality to illustrate the impacts of sea level rise in South Seattle. Heidi started the project, which was funded by an EarthLab Innovation Grant, while working for the Climate Impacts Group.

As a finalist for “Falling Walls,” Heidi created a five-minute video describing her project and its impact. The video features Heidi responding to prompts ranging from: “Introduce your science engagement initiative in one sentence” and “How does society benefit from your initiative?” to “What did you want to become as a child?” The video guest stars Heidi’s eight-month-old daughter. 

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CIG Director Presents at Insurance Commissioner’s Climate Summit

Dr. Amy Snover, director of the Climate Impacts Group, was among several leaders advancing climate resilience who presented at the Climate Summit hosted by Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. Dr. Snover discussed Pacific Northwest climate change science: Impacts, risks & vulnerabilities. View a recording of her presentation as well as other talks from the Summit.  

Climate change poses risks to insurers and consumers alike. Insurance companies must be prepared to pay increased property, life and health claims resulting from a changing climate. The virtual 2020 Climate Summit brought together a national audience of climate, government and insurance professionals to understand and explore how climate change affects our communities, regulatory efforts and businesses.   

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Washington Commissioner’s Climate Summit Highlighted Area, Global Vulnerabilities

“The insurance buying public wants to know that insurance is going to be available and affordable to them when they need it.” That was the take-home message from Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who hosted a half-day virtual summit on climate change on Wednesday. Dr. Amy Snover, who spoke at the summit, is quoted.  

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Healthy Planet, Healthy People

Five experts in climate science and low-carbon infrastructure at the University of Washington wrote about how we can recover from a climate crisis during a health crisis. Amy Snover is one of the five featured experts. 

“Rebuilding our collective lives post-pandemic requires attending to all of the intertwined systems that we depend on. Responses to COVID-19 must incorporate solutions for climate change and racial justice. Recovery investments must accelerate decarbonization, not pause it — and advance preparation for rising climate stresses, not punt on it. In a world of compound risks, we must insist on compound solutions. We don’t have enough time, money or planet to do it any other way.” – Amy Snover  

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America’s Year of Fire and Tempests Means the Climate Crisis Just Got Very Real

Record-breaking wildfires and hurricanes were just the most high-profile effects of global heating — and this is only the start. 

“All of the systems that society depends on were designed to function in the climate of the past,” Snover, Climate Impacts Group director, told the Guardian. “But we no longer live in the climate of the past. The climate disruption brought by warming, changes in precipitation, changes in storms and changes in sea level is destabilizing the foundation of all these systems at once.”  

Read the article in the Guardian

How Climate Change Affects Wildfires, Like Those in the West, and Makes Them Worse

The consequences climate scientists have long been warning about are coming to fruition in the increased intensity of natural disasters around the globe, recently in the form of devastating wildfires that ravaged the western states and enshrouded areas not plagued with flames under hazes of smoke. 

“These are not unprecedented events,” Dr. Crystal Raymond, climate adaptation scientist, told ABC News. “Scientists know these types of fires burned in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but it’s the frequency at which they are now burning that has become a concern.”  

Read the article from ABC News

REGISTER: Oregon-Washington Water Year Meeting, October 28 & 29

The Oregon-Washington Water Year 2020 Recap & 2021 Outlook Meeting will be held as two virtual meetings on the mornings of October 28 and 29. The annual water year meeting is an opportunity to review climate-related impacts of the previous water year and learn about the forecast for the upcoming water year.

In addition to hearing from the forecast experts, both days will include time for discussion and peer-to-peer learning. We encourage participation from a wide range of sectors including utilities, agriculture and forestry.

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Day 1: October 28; 9 a.m. to noon P.T.

The first day will feature a recap of the 2020 water year with a focus on extremes — from winter flooding to drought to wildfire. 

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Burnt, Like I Am: After Fires Burn Through Colville Reservation, Efforts Underway to Recover, Adapt

Siblings Jimmy Timentwa and Elaine Timentwa Emerson describe the fires that burned through the Colville Reservation. Dr. Crystal Raymond is quoted. A brief on climate change, created for the Colville Tribes, is referenced.  

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Northwest Climate Conference to be Held April 6-8, 2021 

The 11th Northwest Climate Conference, hosted by the UW Climate Impacts Group, will be held Tuesday, April 6—Thursday, April 8, 2021. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the conference will be held entirely online.

The NW Climate Conference annually brings together more than 500 researchers and practitioners from around the region to discuss scientific results, challenges, and solutions related to the impacts of climate on people, natural resources and infrastructure in the Northwest. The conference also provides a forum for presenting emerging policy and management goals, as well as information needs related to regional climate impacts and adaptation. Conference participants include policy- and decision-makers, resource managers, and scientists from academia, public agencies, sovereign tribal nations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. 

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