News & Blog

“Sources of Uncertainty in Long-Term Climate Projections” – PCC Summer Institute 2018

by Sarah Ragen and Hannah Director On September 12-14, 2018, members of the UW community and invited guests gathered at UW’s Friday Harbor Labs for the Program on Climate Change’s annual Summer Institute. The topic this year was “Sources of Uncertainty in Long-Term Climate Projections.” Participants attending the institute were introduced to many issues that affect how we quantify the uncertainty related to long-term climate projections. 

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Plant response to elevated carbon dioxide amplifies warming

A new study published by Marlies Kovenock, a graduate student in the Department of Biology and member of the PCC, demonstrates how the response of plants to climate change could result in more warming. Plants have been observed to change the thickness of their leaves when subject to increased CO2. Yet, the consequence of this physiological response is still poorly understood. Does this response amplify or dampen the warming caused by the increased CO2? Kovenock suggests that the thicker leaves may amplify the effects of climate change because the leaves would be less efficient in sequestering atmospheric carbon. By not accounting for this response, it means that global temperatures could rise by an extra 0.3 to 1.4 degrees Celsius.    

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On Wildfire Smoke and Climate Change

As satellite images of wildfire smoke and local air quality data streamed into our labs last month, the implications of our science have never felt so immediate. The thick haze of toxic wildfire smoke created levels of particulate matter that are the worst in over two decades for the Puget Sound region. In a lab meeting on a record-breaking pollution day, a colleague described a sinking feeling in her gut when she saw a group of children at summer camp playing outside in the smoke, since wildfire smoke can be especially dangerous for kids. 

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Understanding and Advancing Natural Resource Management in the Context of Changing Ocean Conditions

By Nyssa Baechler and Katie Keil The ocean is easy to take for granted一every day the tides roll in and out like clockwork, salmon return each season to their natal streams, and the ocean provides essential resources to sustain life around the globe. However, changes are happening at an unprecedented rate and the magnitude of the consequences of these changes is largely unknown. 

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Congratulations to Professor Cecilia Bitz, 2018 AGU Fellow!

Our PCC Director, Cecilia Bitz, was named AGU Fellow for the class of 2018, a recognition that only 0.1% of the AGU membership receives in any given year.  The AGU fellows program recognizes members who achieve excellence in research in ways that help us understand the complex natural world, in new, innovative ways that have sustained impact.  Cecilia will receive the honor in December at the AGU Fall Meeting in Washington D.C.  Read more about the AGU fellowship program here.

American Geophysical Union Announces 2018 Fellows

Mindfulness Practices as a Tool for Climate Change Communication

I’ve practiced nature-based spirituality in one form or another for more than twenty years. But spiritual or religious practices are not something that most scientists, particularly those in the “hard sciences,” talk about. This is perhaps a natural consequence of the idea that science needs to be unbiased. Personally, however, I feel a strong connection to the ocean generally and the Puget Sound region specifically. 

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"Climate change could heighten risk of global food production ‘shocks’"--Michelle Tigchelaar writes about her recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Michelle Tichelaar, a postdoctoral researcher at UW Atmospheric Sciences and others show in the PNAS paper that climate change will increase the likelihood of major crop failures of corn, and other crops, and provides context for the article in her piece for "Carbon Brief" Tigchelaar, M., Battisti, D. S., Naylor, R. L. and Ray, D. K. (2018) Future warming increases probability of globally synchronized maize production shocks, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1718031115

Michelle's opinion post in Carbon Brief

Communicating Sea Level Rise to Coastal Washington Communities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Concerns

-by Diana Perry, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs Graduate and Graduate Certificate in Climate Science Recipient, Spring 2018 The beach on Cape Cod where I grew up exploring looks different—a thinner, steeper backshore and steeper nearshore leading to a larger shallower point—than it did when I first stepped foot on it. In a few decades, it may not exist, or at the very least, will look dramatically different. 

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PCC members part of massive international project to monitor Thwaites Glacier

Knut Christianson, an assistant professor of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, and Nick Holschuh, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, are helping to lead a massive international collaboration to better understand the fate of Thwaites Glacier, nicknamed the "world's most dangerous glacier". Their work is just one of eight projects involving over 100 scientists. The project aims to collect better data that will eventually be fed into computer models to forecast the future of Earth’s climate. The data that Christianson and Holschuh will collect will be from scans using two different radars to map the individual layers of snow, ice, and bedrock. Predictions of the near-term fate of Thwaites Glacier depend critically on a more detailed picture of the bed topography where the glacier resides.

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A Speakers Bureau for a local, worker-centric Climate Caucus

As climate researchers living in a city with the highest public recognition of global warming in the US, it’s easy to slip into social media-enhanced echo chambers about the science and risks of climate change. With the decline in civic organizations, as demonstrated in Robert Putnam’s popular book “Bowling Alone,” breaking out of this bubble and engaging in science conversations across diverse perspectives takes time and energy, and is especially difficult in the absence of a community affiliation that provides common ground. 

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