2019: Climate Change Impacts on 21st Century Food and Water Security

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, 11-13 September 2019

Read the post-event blog by PCC Director Becky Alexander here.

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?


Abstracts/Titles available as of 9/9/2019

Confirmed Speakers (updated August 15 2019)

Michelle Tigchelaar (Stanford University) Beyond grains: Considering climate change impacts across food system components

Abby Swann (UW Atmospheric Sciences and Biology) The impact of future climate on agricultural yields

Summer Rupper (University of Utah) Climate and glacier changes in the world’s water towers

Nathan Mueller (UC Irvine) Adapting agriculture to a changing climate

Bart Nijssen (UW Civil Engineering) Climate, Hydrology, and Water Resources

Gidon Eshel (Bard College) Some geophysical considerations that should, and should NOT, shape our diets

Soo-Hyung Kim (UW Environmental and Forest Sciences) Crop simulation models for assessing climate impacts and adaptation strategies in agriculture

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) Adapting Food Systems to 21st Century Climate: from Systematic to Transformational Change

Stanley Wood (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) Smallholder Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Variability: Quantifying Threats and Evaluating Intervention Options

Jan Newton (UW Applied Physics Lab) Ocean Acidification: understanding this global condition and its local effects

Deepti Singh, (Washington State University Vancouver) Interactions between Climate Variability and Agricultural Activities in South Asia

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.



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