Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest Agenda

Program Summary | Agenda | Speaker Bios | Participant Bios | Resource List
Climate Change and the News Initiative

September 6-7, 2013
The Bullitt Center
1501 East Madison Street, Seattle, WA

View videos of each speaker’s presentation on the Metcalf Institute YouTube channel.

Click on speakers’ names to see their presentation slides.


Friday, September 6

9:30-9:45 a.m.          Welcome and Introductions
DENIS HAYES, The Bullitt Foundation; KATHY BEST, The Seattle Times; SUNSHINE MENEZES, Metcalf Institute

9:45-12:00               Session 1: Introduction to Climate Change Science & Policy
The first session of this two-day seminar will provide a strong scientific and policy foundation for journalists covering the broad implications of climate change, just in time for the next highly anticipated report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report will provide an update on scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of climate change. This session will inform Sessions 2 through 4.

9:45-10:45           Introduction to Climate Change Science – What Do We Know Right Now?
Dennis Hartmann, University of Washington; LuAnne Thompson, University of Washington
Speakers will introduce the physical science of climate change, the differences between weather and climate, and the interactions of Earth’s atmosphere and ocean, and the proceedings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will release an updated report in stages between October 2013 and September 2014. With plenty of time for Q&A, this discussion will provide a solid understanding of the drivers of climate change.

10:45-11:00        Break

11:00-12:15         Climate Change Policy and Programs in Washington and Oregon
Lara Whitely Binder, University of Washington Climate Impacts Group; Hedia Adelsman, Washington Department of Ecology; Michelle Crim, City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
A variety of regional initiatives and policies are underway in the Pacific Northwest to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Presenters will provide a summary of major regional efforts to address climate change, and a report card on their successes to date.

12:15-1:00             Networking Lunch

1-3:50 p.m.             Session 2: Climate Change Effects on Regional Water Supply
Researchers are still trying to refine models to predict the local effects of climate change, but they are increasingly confident in their projections at the regional level. In the Pacific Northwest, climate change will significantly affect water supply. Building on concepts introduced in Session 1, Session 2 will provide background on the science and management of water under climate change scenarios and insight into the many implications for news coverage.

1:00-1:30             Constraints on Water Availability: Temperature, Precipitation, Snow Accumulation
Nicholas Bond, Office of Washington State Climatologist
Whether considering the basic necessities like access to safe and plentiful drinking water, economic prosperity (agriculture, tourism, timber), or recreation (skiing, fishing, boating), water plays an important role in the quality of life of those living in Washington and Oregon. Bond will discuss recent trends in water availability in the region and projected limitations in water supply under a changing climate.

1:30-2:30             Water Management Under Climate Change Scenarios
Heejun Chang, Portland State University; Janet Neuman, Tonkon Torp, LLC
The Pacific Northwest is accustomed to competition for water between utilities, agriculture, forests, and protected salmon runs, but climate change will add a new layer of complexity and urgency to flow allocation. Panelists will discuss water policy and management approaches in the region as well as the associated economic risks and  opportunities.

2:30-2:45             Break

2:45-4:00             Perspectives on Regional Changes in Water Availability
Charles Hudson, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission; Paul Fleming, Seattle Public Utilities; John Fazio, Northwest Power and Conservation Council
The implications of climate-driven changes in the timing, type, and amount of precipitation are significant for Pacific Northwest natural ecosystems, agricultural and timber harvests, hydroelectric power, and communities throughout the region. Following the discussion of scientific projections for water availability and related management concerns, panelists representing tourism, business and community interests, and environmental conservation will discuss their perspectives on how these changes could affect the region’s economy.

 4:30                       Seminar adjourns. Participants are invited to join a guided tour of the Bullitt Center, “the greenest commercial building in the world.”


Saturday, September 7

9:30-9:40 a.m.          Welcome and Introductions

SUNSHINE MENEZES, Metcalf Institute

9:40-12:00               Session 3: Ocean and Coastal Ecosystem Responses
Warming temperatures, changing ocean currents and chemistry, and changing precipitation patterns can cause a cascade of effects in marine ecosystems. Speakers will describe their observations of the regional effects and projections for the future.

9:40-10:40               A pH Balancing Act: Ocean Acidification
Richard Feely, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Lab; Shallin Busch, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Having recently recorded the highest-ever measured level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, researchers are increasingly concerned about how this greenhouse gas will make ocean waters more acidic. Ocean acidification is already harming shellfish in the Pacific Northwest. Speakers will describe the process of ocean acidification and how this shift in ocean chemistry is affecting marine life and threatening the livelihoods of people dependent on those ocean dwellers.

10:40-11:15             Climate Science on the Coast: Shoreline Change and Sea Level Rise
Patty Glick, National Wildlife Federation Pacific Regional Center
Coastal zones offer an early indication of the future effects of climate change. Among the many effects of climate change in coastal environments, two of the most regionally significant are the potential loss of tidal marshes due to rapid sea level rise and the physical effects seen in coastal zones as shorelines shift under our feet. This session will describe the observed and projected regional changes in sea level, as well as the implications of related storm surge, coastal flooding, erosion, and landslides for coastal infrastructure and public safety.

11:15-12:15             Perspectives on Shoreline Change, Sea Level Rise, and Ocean Acidification
Nicole Faghin, Washington Sea Grant; Eric Swenson, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership; Bill Dewey, Taylor Shellfish
Following the introduction to current research on marine ecosystem responses to climate change in the Pacific Northwest, panelists will share their perspectives on how these changes could affect regional economic, regulatory, and conservation decisions.

12:15-1:00 p.m.       Networking Lunch

1:00-4:00                Session 4: Forest and Watershed Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change
Climate change will affect ecosystems on many levels, from the timing of plant pollination in the mountain hemlock forests of the Cascade Range to the success of Northwestern salmon migrations. Continuing inland from the coastal perspective offered in Session 3, the final session of this two-day seminar will describe some hot research topics in regional forests and broader watershed impacts, followed by a discussion of how these changes will affect communities, regulatory approaches, and economic security.

1:00-1:45                Forest Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change
David Peterson, US Forest Service Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Lab
Regional forests will face changes in temperature, precipitation rates and timing, and snow cover as a result of climate change. These shifts will affect animal populations, recreational activities, and the frequency of forest fires, among other things. Peterson will identify the scope of these threats and their potentially long-term effects on local and regional economies.

 1:45-2:45                Freshwater and Riparian Ecosystem Reponse
Ingrid Tohver, University of Washington Climate Impacts Group; Lisa Crozier, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Rivers are deeply woven into the culture and economy of the Pacific Northwest, but how will these waterways be altered as a result of climate change? And what does this mean for those who live, work, and recreate in the region? Speakers will present observed and projected climate-driven changes in salmon populations, stream flow, and water quality.

 2:45-3:00                Break

3:00-4:00                Perspectives on Forest and Watershed Ecosystem Response
Oliver Grah, Nooksack Indian Tribe; Reese Lolley, The Nature Conservancy; Edie Sonne Hall, Weyerhaeuser
Following the introduction to science regarding forest and watershed ecosystem responses to climate change in the Pacific Northwest, panelists representing tribal, environmental, government, and other interests will share their perspectives on how these changes could affect regional economic, regulatory, and conservation decisions.

4:00                      Adjourn


This program was underwritten by The Grantham Foundation,
with in-kind support from The Seattle Times and The Bullitt Center


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