Climate news

We work closely with state agencies, local governments, and planners to prepare Washington for the impacts of climate change and to reduce its causes.

View across Puget Sound with Mt. Rainier in distance and industrial facilities along shoreline.

Photo courtesy of Dawn Gardiska.

New sea-level rise report provides latest projections for Washington coast

Climate change is causing global ocean levels to rise. A new assessment, Projected Sea Level Rise for Washington State: A 2018 Assessment, was just released by Washington Sea Grant and University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group July 30, 2018. The report suggests the potential for higher rates of sea level rise for many Washington coastal communities during the next century.

The report includes projections at 171 different coastal sites in Puget Sound and the Pacific Coast. Researchers incorporated Washington’s unique geology-driven land motion, with uplift at Neah Bay and sinking in Seattle. The assessment projects the probability, by decade, of sea level rise at each coastal site from now until 2150.

The study follows a 2015 UW report on how climate change will affect Puget Sound. This new study provides much greater detail about sea-level rise, both in Puget Sound and along the coast. The new report is part of the Washington Coastal Resilience Project, a three-year effort funded in 2016 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We are a member of the project which also includes other local governments, public academic institutions, and state and federal agencies.

New guidance helps protect cleanup sites from climate change impacts

We created new guidance for cleaning up toxic sites in Washington. The Adaptation Strategies for Resilient Cleanup Remedies gives cleanup site managers tools for conducting site-specific vulnerability assessments. These assessments can then be used to identify adaptation measures to increase the resilience of cleanup site remedies. Implementing these measures during early stages of the cleanup process may increase the feasible cleanup options, maximize their integrity, and reduce short- and long-term costs in some situations.
By improving the resilience of our cleanup remedies to the impacts of climate change, we can help ensure that our efforts are effective in the long-term. And, by accounting for regionally-specific climate change impacts like sea level rise, we can better protect the significant investment in time, resources, and money that make cleanup happen. Learn more about the new guidance by reading our blog post or fact sheet.

Ecology helps to keep climate change discussions going

Ecology Director Maia Bellon accompanied Gov. Jay Inslee to discuss climate change with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile on June 7, 2017, in Seattle.

In 2015, Washington and Chile established a memorandum of understanding regarding climate change, sustainability, and clean energy while attending the international climate summit in Paris, COP21. The meeting was a chance to follow-up on that agreement and discuss potential next steps for cooperation. Read the full article.

Lower greenhouse gas limits recommended for the state

When the Legislature adopted the state’s original greenhouse gas limits, it recognized that climate change science was rapidly evolving, and legislators had the foresight to require periodic review of the state targets. Today, there is a global consensus that deeper greenhouse gases reductions than projected years ago are needed . Read our report to the Legislature recommending lower limits for Washington. 

You can also read our blog that shares background on the issue.

Projected impacts of climate change on groundwater in Washington

We released a report that summarizes how global climate change might impact groundwater supplies in Washington in the coming decades.

Although out of sight, groundwater is a highly valuable natural resource for people, the economy, and the environment. Throughout the state, groundwater provides a major source of water supply, sustains streamflows and wetland functions during biologically critical periods of the year, and helps to buffer the impact of short-term droughts.

Global-scale climate changes are unfolding at very rapid rates in comparison to historical patterns and are expected to have far-reaching consequences for Washington’s water resources. Read the full report.