WSG News Blog

Director’s Note: The Challenges of Coastal Resiliency

August 6, 2019

Russell Callender, WSG Director

It’s summer, and it’s supposed to be hot. However, is it really supposed to be this hot? Much of the central and southern United States is sweltering. We’re seeing temperature records broken in Europe, the Arctic, Greenland, the subarctic of Alaska . . . The list goes on. In Washington (where my friends that don’t live here, say “it rains all the time”), we are under a drought emergency that now includes nearly half the state. The drought raises concerns about increased threats of wildfires and negative consequences for our iconic salmon and other species. Warming ocean temperatures are causing shifts in distribution patterns of commercial, recreational and protected species and are exacerbating user conflicts on the West Coast. Warming ocean temperatures are also influencing sea-level rise due to factors such as ocean thermal expansion, shifting ocean currents or glacial melting.

Clearly, the consequences of a changing planet are impacting all of us; particularly those of us that live and work on the coast. Washington Sea Grant and our partners with the UW Climate Impact Group and the Department of Ecology are winding up a NOAA-funded three-year Washington Coastal Resilience Project (WCRP). This project has resulted in many successful outcomes—such as the sea-level rise report released last year, which you can read about in this month’s featured story—that will help coastal communities, counties, cities, homeowners and business owners understand their risks and plan for the future.

However, this project has just scratched the surface. Sadly, the challenges of climate change and its impacts on ocean ecosystems and coastal communities are not just a challenge for this generation. This will be a concern for our grandchildren’s, grandchildren’s, grandchildren. Washington Sea Grant recognizes this and is planning to be in this for the long haul. We will continue to work to obtain state and the federal support to help develop a more unified approach for Washington to strengthen our coastal resilience by better assessing community challenges and needs, by providing practical tools, technical assistance and funding sources to stimulate locally-driven resilience efforts.

Stay tuned….. this story will continue.

Russell Callender, WSG Director