PCC Summer Institute

An annual 3-day event where faculty, scientists, graduate students, and invited speakers focus on how climate and our physical and human world interact. Each year a new topic, showcasing emerging knowledge and ways in which disciplines intersect, is examined. Always an opportunity for team building and for full discussion of the alternative ways that research can be brought to focus on the pressing questions of today.

Climate Change Impacts on 21st Century Food and Water Security

 A 2019 Program on Climate Change Summer Institute

11-13 September 2019

Organized by David Battisti, UW Atmospheric Sciences and Cecilia Bitz, Director, UW Program on Climate Change, and UW Atmospheric Sciences, with sponsorship from Seattle-based Vulcan Inc.

Hosted by University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratory on San Juan Island.

Climate change affects food and water security. The number of undernourished people has reached over 800 million, with the highest occurrence in regions where food availability is most threatened by expected future warming. A related problem is the influence of climate change on fresh water through direct effects on precipitation and evaporation and through altering storage in ice/snow and groundwater. The World Food Programme finds that climate change exacerbates undernourishment through effects on food availability, access, utilization, and stability. Population growth and increased demand for food is altering fresh water use and has created new demands for managing water supply and quality.

The role of climate change on food and water is much more complex than predicting global or continental trends. The choices we make about food production and water supply in turn can influence climate change.

Important topics for discussion include:

  • What is the role of changes in extreme weather versus climate long-term trends?
  • What methods of downscaling are best for predicting and preparing for the future?
  • How will the monsoons and land aridity change in ways that are important for food and water?
  • How does the diet we eat influence our greenhouse gas footprint?
  • How does agriculture influence climate change through changes in greenhouse gases, albedo and evapotranspiration?
  • How is freshwater storage in groundwater and ice/snow influenced by climate change?

Presentations will be given by about 12 speakers, with up to 5 speakers from outside UW and the rest from within UW and our local community.

Confirmed Speakers (updated August 15 2019)

Michelle Tigchelaar, Stanford University, Climate Change Impacts on Food Systems (Grains especially)

Abby Swann, UW Atmospheric Sciences and Biology, Climate-Vegetation Coupled Interactions, Climate Modeling

Summer Rupper, University of Utah, Water Availability from Alpine Glaciers, especially on the Tibetan Plateau

Nathan Mueller, UC Irvine, Policy and Economics of global food demand

Bart Nijssen, UW Civil and Environmental Engineering, Climate Impacts on the Hydrologic Cycle, Land-surface climate modeling

Gidon Eshel, Bard College

Soo-Hyung Kim, UW Environmental and Forest Sciences

Gordon Holtgrieve, UW School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences,  “Floods, Fish, and People: Food-Energy-Water Challenges & Opportunities in the Mekong River Basin.”

Brian Smoliak, Two Degrees Adapt, LLC, non-academic career paths

Stanley Wood, Gates Foundation

Jan Newton, UW Applied Physics Lab

Deepti Singh, WSU School of the Environment

Strongly recommended for participating students and postdocs: paper discussion sessions.

Tuesday, Aug 13 at 1:30pm  in ATG 310 Discussion led by David Battisti. Come prepared to discuss the following:

Wednesday, Aug 28 at 1:30pm in OSB 425. Discussion led by Cecilia Bitz.  Come prepared to discuss the following:

This year’s Summer Institute is striving for carbon neutrality.

As climate scholars, we value the opportunities to share and showcase important research surrounding climate change that the Institute provides. As concerned citizens, we recognize the importance of challenging the “business-as-usual” status quo and making personal changes to lower our own carbon footprint. We hope that by achieving our net-zero emissions goal, this conference can serve as an example that cutting carbon is not an impossible task, nor is it a total sacrifice. Instead, with careful planning and mindful decision-making, it is an attainable goal and a step in the right direction.

To achieve carbon neutrality, we plan to offset the total emissions generated by the conference, which includes individuals’ transport to and from the venue in addition to during the conference itself. We will sum up emissions from transportation, food and beverages, electricity, conference materials such as name tags and posters, and other miscellaneous sectors, and divide by the total number of participants to reach an average carbon emissions per person. At the end of the SI, attendees will be given an estimate and will be invited to discuss options for how to offset the total-estimated emissions. We are currently working to identify an appropriate carbon offset program to serve our needs.

This effort was conceptualized by Alex Stote, a graduate student from the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, UW. She will be taking the lead on the project and will work in partnership with Miriam Bertram, PCC Assistant Director, and Friday Harbor Labs, the conference hosts.

The PCC Summer Institute is for members of the PCC community at UW and invited speakers and guests. Seating is limited at FHL, so we regret that we cannot accommodate general participants.


Registration is now closed.  (updated 7 Aug 2019).

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