Climate Change and Variability: Impacts, Mitigation, and Adaptation
Colleges: VCEA, CAHNRS, CAS, CON
Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues of our day and WSU faculty are addressing this challenge through internationally recognized research on the causes and consequences of environmental change. WSU’s holistic approach to climate change research emphasizes the historic, biologic, atmospheric, and social responses to environmental change and its effect on our world. Faculty are leaders in indigenous responses to long-term environmental shifts, how plants both influence and are influenced by climatic conditions. For example, WSU has a particular strength in understanding how climate change and variability are impacting water resources availability, agricultural and forest productivity, and air quality. Climate change mitigation involves reducing greenhouse gases that are responsible for causing climatic warming. Agricultural and forestry scientists are researching mechanisms for mitigation of climate change by reduced use of fuel and other inputs and enhanced carbon sequestration in soils. Plant biologists and engineers are developing methods to use biomass to make fuel and numerous bioproducts that were previously derived from fossil fuels. They are also examining modified production systems to maintain sustainability and productivity of our managed lands in a changing climate. Climate adaptation involves identifying strategies to reduce human and environmental vulnerability to climate change. WSU has cross-college efforts underway examining the food-water-energy nexus, which involves identifying current and future frictions between agricultural production, energy generation, and environmental needs for water. Through the involvement of regional stakeholders, solutions are being developed to reduce these friction points and achieve a more sustainable system. Such information contributes to management decisions, policy development and has implications for Washington’s natural and agriculturally managed populations of plants and animals and for the health and well-being of human populations.