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The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group: How we (I) got to where we are, and why it works


The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group: How we (I) got to where we are, and why it works Dennis P. Lettenmaier Department of Civil and Environmental ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group: How we (I) got to where we are, and why it works

The University of Washington Climate Impacts
Group How we (I) got to where we are, and why
it works
  • Dennis P. Lettenmaier
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • University of Washington
  • 2009 Idaho EPSCOR Annual Meeting
  • Moscow, ID
  • August 31, 2009

Three defining forces in my career
  1. The Federal water pollution control act of 1972
  2. The era of large dam construction (and its end)
  3. The dawning of the era of (recognition of) global

Science 174 (4012), 1971
while we know that water quality conditions
must be getting worse, we are hard-pressed to
determine precisely the relation between the
pressures posed by society and the responses of
the river system
Reservoir construction began to slow in the
1970s, is small now in developed world
Visual courtesy Hiroshi Ishidaira, Yamanashi
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
The Climate Impacts Group
1st of 9 U.S. Regional Integrated Sciences and
Assessment (RISA) teams
Areas of study Water resources Aquatic Ecosystems Forests Coasts
Objectives Increase regional resilience to climate variability and change Produce science useful to (and used by!) the decision making community
Major CIG Stakeholders Include
Local/Tribal Level King County, Washington City of Olympia, Washington Puget Sound Energy Seattle City Council Seattle City Light Seattle Public Utilities Swinomish Tribe (Washington) Tacoma Power and Light State Level Idaho Dept. of Water Resources Oregon Dept. of Energy State Governors Offices (WA, OR, ID) WA, OR, ID State Legislatures WA Dept. of Community, Trade Economic Development Washington Dept. of Ecology Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Washington Dept. of Health Washington Dept. of Natural Resources
Federal Level Bonneville Power Administration National Marine Fisheries Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. Bureau of Reclamation U.S. Congress, PNW delegation USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service U.S. Dept. of Energy, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Forest Service U.S. Geologic Survey
An Interdisciplinary Research Team
  • Dept of Atmospheric Sciences
  • School of Marine Affairs
  • Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences
  • College of Forest Resources
  • School of Public Health and Community Medicine

University of Washington
  • Washington Department of Ecology (coastal zone
  • NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (hydrology)
  • Consultants in Idaho (water markets, energy
    deregulation, institutional analysis)
  • Washington State University (agriculture)

External Collaborators
Core Expertise
  • Forests
  • Modeling and projecting changes in disturbance
    (fire, pests), distribution, composition
  • Aquatic ecosystems
  • Salmon
  • Puget Sound food-webs and harmful algal blooms
  • California Current ecosystem
  • Impacts on stream temperature and flow
  • Adaptation
  • Implications for PNW communities and ecosystem
  • Outreach
  • Climate
  • Climate dynamics and diagnostics
  • PNW climate change scenarios
  • Regional climate modeling
  • Extreme events
  • Hydrology and water resources
  • VIC/DHSVM modeling
  • Scenario development
  • Implications for water management, institutions
  • Hydropower production
  • Optimization

Additional Strengths
  • Coasts/Estuaries
  • Implications of sea level rise on coastal land
  • Impacts of climate change on the near shore
    environment, Puget Sound estuary
  • Urban Stormwater Infrastructure
  • Human Health
  • Extreme heat
  • Air quality
  • Agriculture
  • Dryland and irrigated agriculture
  • Agricultural economics

Primary Funding Sources
  • NOAA Climate Program Office, RISA program
  • NOAA Climate Dynamics and Experimental Prediction
    (CDEP) program
  • University of Washington - supports staffing for
    outreach and teaching
  • Various grants and contracts awarded to
    individual researchers

Summary of Contributions to Climate Impacts
  • Defining the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation)
  • Identifying ENSO and PDO impacts on PNW winter
    climate and key natural resources
  • Identifying 20th century trends on PNW
    temperature, precipitation, and snowpack
  • Extending the paleo record for PNW climate,
    streamflow, forests, and summer sea surface
  • Defining and evaluating the potential impacts of
    global climate change on PNW climate and
  • Identifying barriers to effective use of climate
    information and characteristics of adaptive

Supporting WA State Climate Needs Decision
  • Support for the WA Preparation/Adaptation Working
    Groups (PAWGs) (July-Dec 2007).
  • Participated in monthly meetings
  • Provided technical guidance on climate impacts
    science and adaptation
  • Reviewed PAWG recommendations

Released February 2008
Supporting WA State Climate Needs Decision
Support (contd)
  • Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment
  • Funded by the WA State Legislature under HB 1303,
  • First comprehensive assessment of climate change
    impacts on WA
  • Products include final report as well as
    comprehensive data sets
  • An absolutely groundbreaking study.adds urgency
    and specificity to the range of impacts that we
    will have to be concerned with.
  • -- Jay Manning, Director, WA Dept of Ecology,
    (2.11.09, Weekday, KUOW 94.9 FM)

Relationship Between the PAWGs and HB 1303
Supporting WA State Climate Needs Decision
Support (contd)
  • Columbia River Basin Water Supply Development
  • Funded by the State Legislature under HB 2860
  • CIG working with Dept. of Ecology to develop a
    comprehensive hydrologic database of climate
    change scenarios to support long-range water
    planning in the Columbia River Basin
  • Database will include wide variety of future
    climate change scenarios for 300 locations

40 realizations of future streamflow variability
at each location
Hydrologic Data
300 Sites
Supporting WA State Climate Needs Decision
Support (contd)
  • Client-based research consultancies (e.g.,
    climate change impacts on municipal water
    supplies), including
  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • Central Puget Sound Regional Water Supply
    planning group (19 utilities, agencies, tribes,
    and others)
  • Also
  • Tualatin Water Dept. (OR)
  • Portland (OR) Water Bureau

Supporting WA State Climate Needs Decision
Support (contd)
  • Providing climate services to stakeholders. For
  • Based on the data and results produced through
    the Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment,
    PNW divisions of the USFS and USFWS have asked
    the CIG to provide climate information, data, and
    technical support for application of this
    information in agency resource management

Supporting WA State Climate Needs Decision
Support (contd)
  • Reinstituted and enhanced services provided by
    the Office of the Washington State Climatologist.
    Services include
  • Climate Inventory Maps
  • N.W. Temperature, Precipitation, and Snow Water
    Equivalent (snowpack) Trend Analysis Mapping Tool
  • Mountain Snow Depth Plotting Tool
  • Precipitation Rankings
  • MODIS Cloud Fraction Maps
  • WA Cloud Cover Data
  • Streamflow Station Map
  • Monthly Newsletter

Supporting WA State Climate Needs Decision
Support (contd)
  • Peer-reviewed scientific publications, white
    papers, fact sheets, and other documents on
    climate impacts

  • Motivation for writing grew out of October 2005
    King County climate change conference
  • Written by the CIG and King County, WA in
    association with ICLEI Local Governments for
  • Focused on the process (not a sector), and
    written for a national audience
  • More than 2,000 hard copies and electronic copies
    distributed globally

Additional Support Through
  • Seasonal to interannual climate forecasts for use
    in resource management, including
  • Monthly climate outlook for the PNW
  • Long-lead (1 year) and seasonal streamflow
    forecasts based on ENSO/PDO
  • Long-lead (1 year) seasonal marine survival
    forecasts for Oregon coastal coho salmon

Additional Support Through
  • Joint Washington/British Columbia coastal experts
  • part of an MOU between WA and BC on researching
    and adapting to coastal impacts of climate change
  • Puget Sound Partnership
  • via efforts to develop GIS-based tools for
    visualizing climate change impacts at very fine
  • Skagit Basin Climate Change Consortium
  • Partnering with federal and local agencies,
    tribes, and others in the Skagit basin to develop
    a climate science consortium focused specifically
    on the Skagit basin
  • WSU Community Supported Agriculture Center for
    Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • on their advisory committee CIG research informs
    their work

Supporting WA State Climate Needs Outreach
  • Workshops, meetings, and conferences, including
  • Annual climate and water fall forecast meetings
  • 2004/2005 climate change and salmon restoration
  • 2005 King County adaptation conference (600
  • 2009 Washington Assessment conference (600
  • 150 presentations/year to wide variety of
    agencies, public groups

How Have CIGs Contributions Helped the PNW?
  • CIG research instrumental in state-level, county,
    and local government efforts to begin preparing
    for climate change (e.g., WA state PAWGs, OR
    Climate Change Research Institute, ID State Water
    Plan, King County, Seattle, Olympia, Snohomish
    County, Port Orford (OR))
  • CIG research acknowledged by Seattle Mayor Greg
    Nickels as the basis for the US Mayors Climate
    Protection Agreement, which includes more than
    800 cities.
  • Public and private electric utilities now
    incorporating information on climate variability
    and change into power planning (e.g., BPA,
    Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy)

How Have CIGs Contributions Helped the PNW?
  • Climate impacts studies have helped water supply
    utilities understand and begin planning for the
    impacts of climate change on water supplies
    (e.g., Seattle Public Utilities, Portland Water
    Dept, Tualatin Water Dept , Central Puget Sound
    Water Suppliers Forum)
  • Federal resource management agencies now
    providing training on climate impacts to staff
    and developing strategies for adapting to climate
    change (e.g., USFS, USFWS)
  • Federal resource management agencies now doing
    studies on climate impacts to key resources
    (e.g., Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of
    Engineers, NW Power and Conservation Council)

How Have CIGs Contributions Helped the PNW?
  • Tribal governments now beginning to examine
    implications of climate change on tribal
    resources and communities (e.g., Northwest Indian
    Fisheries Commission, Columbia River Inter-Tribal
    Fish Commission, Swinomish Tribe adaptation
  • CIG paper on development of a National Climate
    Service (NCS) has had an important influence on
    the evolving shape of a federal NCS
  • CIG research has contributed to an overall
    increase in regional understanding about the
    impacts of climate change on the PNW environment
    and communities and the need for adaptation

Why has the CIG worked?
  1. Right idea at the right time
  2. Strong core science
  3. Organizational structure

The challenges
  • Integration (making the whole more than the sum
    of the parts)
  • Establishing a career pathway for core research
  • The need for new blood
  • Financial support/recompete