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Plunging into a jungle of weather statistics to find the footprints of climate change

“Augusts in Seattle are getting hotter, leading to a change of 3.5°F since 1970.” This was the sentence that caught my eye while reading an email from Peter Gerard, director of communications for Climate Central, an organization that prides itself on helping news reporters tell an accurate story of climate change. I wondered immediately: Is …

Can biologists estimate the massive loss of shellfish caused by low tides, high temps?

The putrid smell of rotting shellfish on some beaches in Puget Sound and elsewhere along the West Coast were a clear sign that large numbers of clams, mussels, oysters and other intertidal creatures were killed from exposure to extreme low tides, record-breaking temperatures and a blazing hot sun. The total losses of shellfish that perished …

Issaquah Creek. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Georgiadis.

Are summer low flows increasing in Puget Sound streams?

Update: A pdf of slides from the presentation is now available. Adequate stream flows are critical to Puget Sound’s endangered salmon and are one of the state’s ‘Vital Sign’ indicators of ecosystem health. Earlier data suggests that summer stream flows have been on the decline, but new analysis shows that gauging these flows may be …

A look at future ocean conditions and how they could affect coastal communities

Scientists tell us that climate change is probably increasing the frequency of extreme events, such as hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. As time goes on, we might expect even more dramatic shifts in the ecosystem, as some species move to more suitable locations and others die out. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing along …

Maps generated from the Salish Sea Model showing surface layer transport in the Northwest Straits (left) and sea surface salinity (right). Images: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

PSI launches Salish Sea Modeling Center

The Puget Sound Institute is launching a new program that will use supercomputers to advance ecosystem recovery of the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea Modeling Center will allow scientists from around the region to access sophisticated computer models to predict changes in the ecosystem. Work at the center will tackle vexing environmental problems such as …

Warm-water ‘blobs’ significantly diminish salmon, other fish populations, study says

It’s no secret that salmon and other Northwest fish populations are expected to shrink as a result of a warming Pacific Ocean. But a new study suggests that the resulting decline in commercial fishing by 2050 could be twice as great as previously estimated by climate scientists. The higher estimates of population declines were calculated …

New report describes anticipated climate-change effects in Washington state

Early effects of a warming Earth have reached Washington state, as we can see from actual measurements. Annual snowpack is declining in the mountains; ancient glaciers are shrinking; sea levels are rising; and coastal waters are becoming less hospitable to sea life. These are some of the changes outlined in a new easy-to-read briefing report …

Eelgrass at low tide. Photo by Olivia Graham.

Diving deeper to understand eelgrass wasting disease

New studies show that eelgrass wasting disease is more common in warmer waters, leading to concerns over the future effects of climate change on eelgrass populations in Puget Sound. We continue our series on science findings from the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. Robin McLachlan reports for Salish Sea Currents.