State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound

A 2015 report from the University of Washington provides the most comprehensive assessment to date of the expected impacts of climate change on the Puget Sound region.

Report cover for State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound
Report cover for State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound

Executive summary

From the peaks of the Cascades and Olympics to the saltwater of the Sound, climate shapes the physical landscape of the Puget Sound region and where and how people, plants and animals inhabit that landscape. In addition to important natural variations, we know now that the Earth’s climate is changing, and expected to continue to change in ways that will alter our local environment, the nature and health of our ecosystems, and the risks and opportunities facing our communities.

This report summarizes the current state of knowledge concerning observed and likely future climate trends and their effects on the lands, waters and people of the Puget Sound region. It describes:

  • Changes in the key factors shaping our local environment: temperature, precipitation, sea level, ocean chemistry, and natural variability,
  • Implications for Puget Sound lands: freshwater resources, landslides, sediment transport, agriculture, and ecosystems,
  • Consequences for Puget Sound’s marine waters: coastal and marine ecosystems, water quality, and circulation,
  • Impacts on the region’s population: health, tribes, and infrastructure, and
  • Climate risk reduction activities underway in climate-sensitive sectors across the Puget Sound region.

This report, State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound, is designed to be an easy-to-read summary that both complements and points to the foundational literature (peer-reviewed science, community and agency reports, and publicly available datasets) from which it draws.

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Mauger, G.S., J.H. Casola, H.A. Morgan, R.L. Strauch, B. Jones, B. Curry, T.M. Busch Isaksen, L. Whitely Binder, M.B. Krosby, and A.K. Snover, 2015. State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound. Report prepared for the Puget Sound Partnership and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington, Seattle. doi:10.7915/CIG93777D

Acknowledgments

This work was funded by grants from the Puget Sound Institute (PSI), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the state of Washington. The Puget Sound Institute is a cooperative agreement between the U.S. EPA and the University of Washington (Award # PCV00J303V09). The NOAA funding was provided via the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). All of the mapping work for this project was conducted as a collaboration between Robert Norheim at the UW Climate Impacts Group and Roger Fuller and Jonathan Picchi-Wilson at the Western Washington University (WWU) Huxley Spatial Institute. Julie Morse at the Nature Conservancy provided helpful comments on the content and organization of the report. Finally, the authors would like to thank other collaborators at the Puget Sound Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, NOAA, and the Skagit Climate Science Consortium for their thoughtful ideas and comments on the manuscript. Beth Tully at the University of Washington assisted with design and layout.

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About the Author: 
Coordinating Lead Authors Guillaume S. Mauger and Joseph H. Casola are with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington in Seattle.